If you have been a off-road fan in the last 25 years, then you know who Rob MacCachren is. If not let me tell you he is a legend, one that is still building on his already massive list of accomplishments. Let’s start with the fact that he started racing off-road at age 16, and climbed his way up from racing a 1600 buggy (which he still races to this day!), to being the most prolific trophy truck driver on the planet. Oh, and short course as well. Wins stacked upon wins, championships on top of championships starting with The Mickey Thompson Series, then SODA, then CORR, now TORC and the Lucas Oil Off-Road Series where he carries the number one plate in Pro-2. Rob MacCachren is the living embodiment of off-road racing. Did I mention wins and championships in the desert as well? SNORE, SCORE, BITD, NORA, HDRA, etc. I personally witnessed Rob finish the 2009 Mint 400 6th overall in a 1600 car! Crazy right? This guy should be one of the most celebrated drivers on the planet! In 2007 he won three of the six SCORE races with the Rivera Team! Talk about domination. The unbelievable thing is the guy is humble and soft spoken. The Europeans can have Michael Schumacher, we have Rob MacCachren!
Here are a few questions I asked the champ last weekend while he was putting on a driving clinic winning both days at the Lucas Oil Off-Road Race in Surprise, AZ.
You had a rough start to your short course season. Rounds 1-2 of LOORS didn’t really go your way.
We tried some pretty radical adjustments to the truck and it didn’t pan out. Once things go wrong it’s hard to not get frustrated and make mistakes and that’s exactly what happened. The competition in the Pro-2 field is serious, if you make mistakes you are done. We went back to our original set up and the truck was much better, it’s a constant battle trying to figure out how to make the truck better without compromising something. I have a great crew and crew chief Jim Blackmore who have been with me a long time and have a ton of knowledge.
Your desert season is off to a great start. You overalled the Mastercraft SCORE San Felipe 250!
We really needed the win in San Felipe; it felt good. We have a great JIMCO built trophy truck and a great team and great sponsors supporting us. I just tired to drive smart. San Felipe is brutal! There is no rest; you just have to pace yourself. I have broken there plenty of times. We want to win everything this year including the championship.
You were leading the BITD Parker 425 for a while, are you going to race the rest of the Best in The Desert Series?
If it was up to me I would race everything! SCORE, BITD, SNORE, LOORS, TORC, maybe even some Rally! We will see what the sponsors want us to do. I know Robbie Pierce wants us to race everything as well.
I heard you are going to race TORC as well.
Yeah, I was able to put a deal together with TRAXXAS and Dodge to race back there. I am really stoked. I love Crandon. I just want to race against the best no matter where it is. Crandon is a special place for me, I have so many friends, fans and memories there.
How did you get your start in off-road racing?
My dad raced, so I started with riding in the 1600 buggy with him. Then we did a few races together and he retired and I got to take over as the primary driver. He made me work on the buggy, which helped me learn the vehicle and become a better driver. Then we bought a better single buggy and I started racing everything I could. I got a shot to take over for Jack Johnson driving the single seat Barbary Coast Class 1 car that was fielded out of Valley Performance by Butch Dean. I met Walker Evans there, which led to a ride with him in desert and eventually short course. I have been lucky, a lot of people helped me along the way.
You have had a long and remarkable carrier. What does that feel like?
It feels great. I have been able to race with my heroes and friends. Jack Johnson, Walker Evans, Larry Ragland, Roger Mears, Ivan Stewart, Rod Millen, Glen Harris, just to name a few. I remember being told that I was going to get paid to race and I was like really? You are going to pay me for this? The weird thing is I still feel like a kind of a kid when I climb in to the truck. I do this to win. I want to win every race and every championship.
You remember any remarkable moments?
Tons of them! In short course I remember when I passed Rod Millen (who I looked up to) at Crandon and Nye Frank looks at me and goes, “Now you’re the guy!” I thought that was a pretty cool moment. In desert I have had tons. This last Baja 500 Larry Ragland and I were banging doors just after Diablo Dry lakebed at over 100mph! I was like “This is crazy”. I can’t believe we were battling like that. Larry didn’t want to give up an inch, it was nuts!
What are your plans for the rest of your career in off-road racing?
I plan on racing for many years to come. Larry Ragland is 60+ and he is still schooling most of the field, so I am going to race as long as I am competitive and even after that I will probably race, I just love this. It’s what I do. I am lucky I found something I am good at. As long as it feels right I will keep doing it.
What would you tell young people getting into off-road racing?
Take your time moving up. Start small and basic. Volunteer for a team. Learn from your mistakes and you will get better. Have fun and do this because you love it! You will have some of the best experiences and hardest challenges you can ever imagine. You will meet some of the best people on the planet and go to some of the most beautiful places and see things that no one else get’s to experience. Keep your eyes open and be ready for adventure!
Here is a little context for who Rob MacCachren is:
182+ career victories and 20 series championships between closed short course and open desert racing.
5 SCORE Baja 1000 victories
5 SCORE Baja 500 wins
3 consecutive short course Pro 2 Championships (2008, 2009 and 2010)
3 consecutive Borg-Warner trophies (1999, 2000, and 2001)
3 Governor’s Cup Championships
Heralded as the premier off-road driver after winning the longest distance (1296 miles point-to-point) SCORE Baja 1000 ever held in 2007
Words: Matt Martelli of Mad Media