10 Crazy Racing Series You Won't Believe Actually Exist
Sure the 24 Hours of Lemons is wacky and cool, and if you’re moderately more serious about your fantasies of being a weirdo race car driver on the cheap, then you can always upgrade (term used very loosely) to Chumpcar — but what do you do when you want to experience the ragged edge of reason in racing form?
The outer limits of competition present some truly unusual ways to get door-to-door with rival pilots as unhinged as you are when it comes to seeking adrenaline in the most unlikely of places.
Check out the 10 most unusual racing series out there, and see which one fits best into your own twisted worldview.
Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing
You don’t need a motor to do something foolish in a racing environment. Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing (photo source) is a regular contest of who is able to best ignore their instincts for self-preservation in a bid to make it down a variety of downhill courses without getting seriously injured. Adults load themselves into Barbie Jeeps that were originally designed for children and then hurtle themselves two at a time down a rocky escarpment with little hope of staying in control, or even surviving the descent. The only rule? You have to make it to the bottom with at least part of the vehicle still intact to win. Founded in 2008, we’re coming up on a full decade of Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing, which is now even starting to show up at major off-road events like King of the Hammers.
Dajiban is slang for “Dodge Van” in Japan, which is also the only place in the world where these bulky cargo movers have inspired their own racing series. Tired of using their vans just to haul motorbikes to the track, owners got kind of crazy with the mods and ended up with ’90s-era boxes going head-to-head on the Ebisu racing circuit. The official name is the D-Van Grand Prix, but whether there’s an actual sanctioning body or not is completely irrelevant once you’ve witnessed the glory of these V8-powered, column-shifted automatic vans body-rolling through corners originally intended for bikes.
Jaguar All-Electric SUV Racing
What’s the best way to get the public excited about an upcoming electric SUV? Why, create a single-model racing championship to go with it, of course! The field, which will be filled with 400-horsepower, specially prepared Jaguar I-Pace sport-utility vehicles, will line up on the grid as a support series for Formula E. Ten events will be held, with a random VIP driver thrown into the mix at each stop. Want to get involved? If you’ve got an FIA-recognized license, you’ve got a shot at making the cut.
Power Racing Series
Imagine tiny cars and trucks the size of Barbie Jeeps, only this time they’ve got motors and don’t have to survive downhill abuse, and you’ve got the Power Racing Series. The premise is simple: snag one of the Power Wheels carts from your childhood, soup it up as much as your $500 budget will allow, then have at it with a bunch of other maniacs on a course so tight you’re probably going to be elbowing each other out of the way. In addition to the standard Power Racing sprints, there’s also a 75-minute endurance class. The rules state you can’t install wheels, tires, or a chassis from a go-kart, but pretty much everything else is allowed, so there’s a whole lot of creativity unleashed in pit lane before each and every race, including home-brewed regenerative braking systems. Also, adults on Power Wheels.
European Truck Racing Championship
Also known as Super Truck Racing, the ETRC pits 18-wheelers against each other on a variety of road courses across Europe. These massive beasts have been wheeling at the edge of what should be physically possible since 1985, their towering cabs giving drivers a commanding view of tarmac about to be punished by the thousand-plus diesel horsepower that they wield. With some tracks barely over a mile and a half in length, it’s amazing that there’s any passing at all, but the skill level of the drivers involved ensures an incredible spectacle each and every time.
United States Lawnmower Racing Association
How popular is lawnmower racing in the United States? So much so that the website of the Lawn Mower Racing Association has to clarify to visitors that it is the “oldest and largest National Mower Racing sanctioning body.” Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, and sponsored by STA-BIL, this lawnmower racing series is way more serious than anyone would reasonably expect it to be. The end result is a bunch of dudes riding souped-up lawn tractors at events all over the country in the pursuit of a points-based national championship. In the interests of safety, the blades have all been removed from these hi-po riders, and, rather hilariously, the only fuel additive allowed is STA-BIL gas stabilizer, whose performance benefits in competition are, well, debatable.
Piaggio Ape Tuk-Tuk Racing
Nothing says “stable racing platform” like a three-wheeled pickup truck. The Piaggio Ape, one of the most popular tuk-tuks in Europe, also happens to have its own devoted high performance following complete with full aftermarket support that can double its engine size from under 50 cc to over 100 cc in the pursuit of…better lap times? Organized under the Malossi Piaggio Ape World Championship banner, the hottest action typically takes place in England where three-wheeled vehicles have long been a fun and ridiculous part of the automotive landscape.
Snowmobile Water Drag Racing
When winter’s ice melts away not everyone puts their snowmobile in the shed. For almost 30 years Lowville, New York, has been hosting the Spring Classic snowmobile “watercross” races that include both straight-line drags and loops around the town’s lake. As long as you can maintain 15 mph, it’s possible to keep the sled buoyant, but these modified monsters can see almost four times that velocity in competition. In addition to two other summer events in Lowville, plenty of other groups across America have gotten involved in snowmobile water drag racing, including the popular New Hampshire Snowmobile Association’s Race Into Winter events.
SsangYong Racing Series
SsangYong isn’t exactly an automotive brand most North Americans associated with performance — or are even familiar with at all – but in New Zealand, this Korean brand has made a splash with the SsangYong Racing Series. This single-make extravaganza stars the Actyon Sports Ute, a four-door subcompact trucklet motivated by a four-cylinder engine and featuring a fully built racing chassis. Oriented towards encouraging grassroots participation and keeping costs as low as possible, each ‘ute is run in identical spec to promote competition and showcase talented drivers across the island.
Figure-Eight Chain Racing
Picture this: you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a car that has a functioning engine, but no brakes. Chained to your back bumper is a similar vehicle, only this one has a dead engine and perfect stoppers at all four corners. You’re on a dirt track arranged in a figure-eight design, and you’ve got to survive to the end of the heat without jackknifing, spinning out of control, or t-boning someone at the crossover. Oh, and sometimes it’s two ambulances chained together, instead of cars. Good luck!
More by Benjamin Hunting