Have you ever had an idea, put it into play, and then found yourself fully engulfed in your own dream? John Goodby took an idea and, within just a few years, turned it into a lifestyle!
Goodby produces a one day, short-course off road race, which includes a variety of classes that range from production jeeps, to a quarter of a million-dollar full on race buggies. The race series includes a total of three races per year. Celebrating its 10th year, the series is based at Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area, Northern California’s Premier State-run off road park, and is titled, appropriately enough, Nor Cal Rock Racing (NCRR).
Taking the opportunity to chat with the promotor himself, Goodby gave me a behind the scenes tour of NCRR, and what it takes to build one hell of a high quality, fully established racing series:
Q: Who invented Rock Racing?
“I’m not really sure. I was in Pismo in 2004 racing people in my jeep buggy and thought, man people need to race these things. So I put an LS motor in my buggy and it started there. I looked online and found XRRA but the farthest west they came was Utah. So I thought, where better to put on a race, than in Northern California.”
Q: How did you come up with the name Nor Cal Rock Racing?
“I don’t really know. I figured the races were here (Northern California) and I never planned on traveling with a series because Prairie City SVRA has been so open arms with the growth of NCRR, I figured there was no better place to hold races being 45 minutes from the most famous 4 x 4 trail in the world “Rubicon”.”
Q: How long does it take to create the course?
“I think about the course design all the time. What I can change up or build different. That never stops. For each event, I will do a layout on Tuesday of race week and we start moving dirt that day. So, it takes us all of four days to build and get the track all prepped. On Friday is when I get some more staff usually and we hang and place all the banners and flags, set up the PA system, layout parking, put signs up, set up the front gate and so on. Then we have practice Friday afternoon and that night and at about 5 AM Saturday morning we start watering and prepping for race day. Then when we are done we teared down after the last race. Flags, banners and what not. So on Sunday morning we can tear everything we’ve built over the last four days and make the track flat for the park and it’s day users.”
Q: How far in advance do you prep/plan for a round?
“Usually around 45 days. I really never stop. It could be a full-time job for a normal person.”
Q: How much sleep do you get before a race?
“Usually about 3 to 4 hours.”
Q: Of all the 10 years, what would you say was the most successful part of your series?
“Making it more successful and the support from the drivers, fans and most importantly sponsors believing in what I am trying to do. For the drivers and the sport as a whole.”
Q: What was the most memorable and rewarding moment during the past 10 years?
“That’s a hard one. I think just making it this far. When I started the series, I didn’t have a goal or end plan. I just wanted to offer races for racers that they didn’t need $1 million budget to be competitive.”
Q: Was there ever a moment you felt the series would not make it?
“Yes, the sport as a whole. I’ve had some pretty small turnouts and those were the ones that scared me. Before I got my first real sponsor I was funding everything on my own so when no one showed up to race or it was too hot and spectators didn’t come through the gate. I definitely thought to myself, I don’t know how to be able to do another event.”
Q: If you could compare any other off-road race to yours, what would it be?
“I’m the only one. So, it would be just like any Ultra4 race except with true sportsman classes in the pros.”
Q: Do you miss the early days?
“Sometimes, it’s still fun but it’s definitely a full-time job.”
Q: How have you seen the rock racing evolve?
“The cars are insane now. Whatever I build they can handle it. We went from low geared jeeps and Toyotas to $250k plus full custom tube chassis and a truck and flatbed trailer to 65ft toter and stacker trailers in the pits.”
Q: How different are the 4400 cars from the first buggies that raced your series?
“The first buggies were garage built creations to fully engineered tube chassis built by professional fabricators.”
Q: What is your fastest growing class and why?
“UTV. It’s the most economical class to get started in with the lowest entry fees.”
Q: What is your favorite class?
“4400 cause that’s what I should be lining up in, but runner up would be the UTV class because those guys have no fear.”
Q: With the addition of Valley Off-Road Racing Association (VORRA) into the NCRR fold, how have things changed?
“VORRA is just some additional classes. Those guys have been so neglected. I wanted to give them a chance to race a full prepped and built course in front of a bunch of spectators. Hopefully, we will bring it back to its hay days.”
Q: Who are some volunteer’s, vendor’s, and sponsors you would like to thank?
“This can be long…..
Mario Pea, Chris Elrod, Rob Cook, Amy Cook, Fast Eddie, my family-(Teresa Goodby, Ryan Goodby, Jack Goodby, Carol Goodby) Tim Scully, Glenn Bonner, Josh Mattson, Amanda Mattson, and everyone that’s helped NCRR along the way.
First Title sponsor: Trail Gear, followed by
Sinister Diesel, Ruffstuff, Genright Offroad.
Nitto Tires, California Custom Trailers and Power Sports, Maxxd Trailers, Rugged Radios, King Shocks, Raceline Wheels, Griffin Radiators, PRP Seats, Action Sports Canopies, Yukon Gear, 212 Performance, Factor 55, RCV Axles, Vision X Lighting, last but not least Metalcloak.”
Q: When you started NCRR, did you ever imagine it would grow to be so big?
“I never really thought about how big it could be. I just wanted to put on races I would want to race myself.”
Raising the stakes from year to year, drivers continue to compete… some old and some new. Word gets around about the Nor Cal Rock Racing series, attracting all levels of race budgets and making the dream to race a reality for basically… anyone! Thanks to John Goodby, for taking his dream to greater lengths and succeeding, literally… with high flying buggies.