We based our opinion on the last 12 months of activity in short course, desert, rally raid, and rally. Racing and winning in multiple disciplines gives a driver more points. Class wins count less than overall wins.
10. Tavo Vildosola (Trophy Truck)
After a near win at the Baja 1000 last year Tavo Vildosola shook off the drama and started the year strong by winning the San Felipe 250. When he is on – he is an incredible driver. Watching him come through the road crossing at Vizciano at last year’s Baja 1000 was one of the most spectacular moments I have ever witnessed in off-road racing. We just wish Tavo would race more and venture into other forms of off-road. Three races a year is not nearly enough.
9. BJ Baldwin (Trophy Truck)
Winning the Baja 1000 with two drivers is a remarkable feat, but driving it entirely on your own and winning is an unbelievable achievement! BJ is consistently one of the top racers in the desert and has had experience with Dakar winning his class. He has been in a Pro-2 and a rally car…so maybe we will see him continue to expand his driving disciplines.
8. Robby Gordon (Trophy Truck, Pro-2, SST Truck, Dakar Vehicle)
Robby Gordon aka (Captain America) has found a new level as an off-road driver. After a dominant performance in the Desert last year winning the Best in The Desert Championship, Robby charged to Dakar, and after a rough start won three stages. Robby even managed to pull off a third place at Crandon last year. Robby also started this year off well with a top five finish at Parker and a win at his own Stadium Super Trucks. It would be pretty awesome to see Robby show up at both TORC/LOORS or Rallycross. He is capable of winning in any car, in any form of racing. There are no boundaries to what Robby is capable of…
7. Carl Renezeder (Pro-2 + Pro-4)
A lot of people don’t know that Curt Leduc actually introduced Carl to short course off-road, and he immediately fell in love with it. Carl has also raced in the desert having a Baja 1000 win to his credit, but that’s not why he’s on this list. Carl races both Pro-2 and Pro-4 and has won championships in both classes, and is dominating this years Lucas Oil Series.
6. Tanner Foust (Rallycross)
Tanner is arguably one of the best drivers on the planet. He is the only American to not just compete, but win in the European Rally Cross Championship. Having witnessed his car control on multiple occasions, I can safely say that he is a true wheelman capable of wielding any vehicle with incredible precision. Add his X-Games wins, with his Global Rallycross championship and you have America’s best rally driver at minimum. It would be great to see Tanner tackle Desert and short course racing.
5. Stéphane Peterhansel (Dakar Vehicle)
The only man in the world to have eleven Dakar victories Peterhansel has mastered the discipline of rally raid. Hopefully we don’t have to wait an entire year to see him battle. It would be interesting to see Peterhansel at The Baja 1000 or Vegas to Reno in a Trophy Truck.
4. Bryce Menzies (Trophy Truck, Pro-2, Rallycross)
After working his way up in desert and short course this young champion has become a top contender in an amazingly short amount of time. With one short course championship, two Baja 500 wins and a big win at The Mint 400, Bryce Menzies is on his way to the number one position. Now competing in rallycross Bryce is also targeting Dakar as his next challenge. It’s going to be fun to watch Bryce battle his way through competition in multiple disciplines.
3. Brian Deegan (Pro-2, Pro-Lite, Rallycross)
When Brian started talking to me about short course and Rallycross, I kept telling him that just getting to the point where you were competitive was going to be a monumental task. Brian is a lot smarter and more disciplined than people think. Behind the General of the Metal Mulisha facade is a driven, highly disciplined, ultra competitive athlete. Now after winning four championships in short course and multiple wins in rallycross, Brian has proven he can race and beat the best. Now if we could just get him into a Trophy Truck….
2. Sebastian Loeb (Rally Car, Rallycross)
After dominating in WRC for the last 9 seasons consecutively, Loeb stepped out into Rallcross and smashed the competition at X-Games. Even though he is technically retired from WRC he shows up at select races and smashed the compettition like he did at Monte Carlo and Argentina. Loeb is also headed to Pikes Peak and other racing challneges TBD. It would be great to see him in rallycross, shortcourse or even desert.
1. Rob MacCachren (Trophy Truck, Pro-2, Pro-4, SST Truck)
Currently racing a full season of Desert in BITD and SCORE as well as TORC and Lucas Oil Off-Road, Rob Mac added two Stadium Super Truck wins to his already amazingly packed resume. Rob is the man to beat in off-road, a dominant and consistent champion in short course and desert, he seemingly is getting better with age. After four decades of racing everything in dirt the only discipline Rob has not conquered is rally. It would be pretty epic to see a shoot out between Rob Mac and Sebastian Loeb at X-Games.
Races are happening even as we speak. In a few months these rankings could change radically so we wanted to mention a few drivers right on the edge of breaking into the top 10.
Brad Lovell (Pro-Lite, Ultra 4)
Brad successfully made the move from Ultra 4 to Pro-Lite with style winning multiple races and the TORC championship in 2012 including RedBud and Crandon. This self funded peoples’ champ also set a new track record at Crandon and finished the year with a BC Challenge Car win at The Baja 1000. Oh and he still had time to win the Ultra 4 Pro-Series Championship.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Rally Car, Dakar Vehicle)
Who? In case you have never paid attention to Dakar or WRC let me introduce you to Nasser Al-Attiyah. Besides being 8x FIA Middle East Champion, Nasser is a regular in both WRC and Dakar. Even though he DNF’d at this year’s Dakar he still had an impressive 3 stage wins running on an independent team. We need to see Nasser hop the pond and get into a Trophy Truck or Pro-2.
Kyle Leduc (Pro-4, Pro-2)
This dominant Pro-4 Champion has taken on racing in the Pro-2 class as well as Desert racing. With plenty of experience racing an 8 truck with his father Curt Leduc, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle ended up in the drivers seat of a Trophy Truck.
RJ Anderson (Pro-Lite, UTV)
After serving up the Pro-Lite field with a steady view of his rear bumper in 2012, RJ has already started the season strong winning one race as well as competing in the WORCS UTV series.
CJ Greaves (Pro-Lite, Pro-2)
When your dad is short course champion Johnny Greaves I would expect you have a lot of pressure to perform, but CJ showed that at just 15 years old he was ready to go against the best. In 2012 CJ became the youngest driver to win a Pro-2 class race and managed to finish 4th in class with 5 podiums. CJ also pulled double duty racing in Pro-Lite all season as well. In fact CJ started his season off this year with a Pro-Lite win in TORC.
Bradley Morris (Pro-Lite, Super Buggy, TrophyKart)
Part of the wave of trophy cart kids this “Baby Faced Killer” has come up though Trophy Karts, to Pro-Buggy, to Pro-Lite and has been a regular podium threat all along the way. Morris had two podiums back-to-back and was named rookie of the year in Pro-Lite in 2012 all while racing in two other classes.
Luke McMillin (Class 1)
Third generation off-road racer Luke McMillin had a stellar year in Class 1 dominating all season sweeping the SCORE races in Baja. He won the San Felipe 250, Baja 500, and the Baja 1000 in Class 1. He’s already off to a good start this year winning the SNORE Bap in 1600 for the second year in a row and finishing the San Felipe 250 third in Class. This 20 year old kid has a bright future and will be racing his first Trophy Truck race at the 2013 Baja 500.
Sébastien Ogier (Rally Car)
When Ogier moved from the proven platform of the Citroën to VW’s new Polo R platform no one expected him to come out of the gate in control of the WRC points championship lead. He has dominated every round except the ones his former teammate Sebastian Loeb showed up at. It would be awesome to see what kind of damage Ogier could do in rallycross or shortcourse.
Words by Matt Martelli
Additional contributors Klaus Rasch and Ron Solomon
Watermarked Photography by Vincent Knakal of Mad Media
Tanner Foust Photos by Jason Zindroski