Orange County, CA (Sept. 2018) – Every year, we get the rush of emotions that desert riding season is upon us. Excitement, anticipation and planning emerges across everything we do. You just can’t stop smiling, and the sleepless nights resemble that of the days of waiting for Santa Claus. But in this case, the jolly old man is a truckload of new parts for the desert toys. As we finish winterizing our summer toys, we start planning for the colder months. For some, that means chopping wood, servicing the snowblower, or dusting off the winter jackets…. not here. For us in the southwest, the chilly temperatures can only mean one thing. Grab your wallets… it’s time for the annual Sand Sports Super Show, a symbol of preparation for miles and miles of ride time in the sand and dirt.
The Sand Sports Super Show is held every year at the very tail end of summer, just four miles from the sand of the iconic Orange County beaches. But this event doesn’t focus on that sand, it focuses on the golden grains of the rolling dunes just hours east of the event. This year’s show fell right into the perfect scene for Southern California; awesome weather, a cool ocean breeze, tons of smiling faces, every industry leader in attendance, celebrities walking amongst the crowds, and every top builder displaying their power and capabilities. An enthusiast’s dream with essentially everything you could ever need for the entire season.
Over the years, this event has grown and changed as much as it possibly could. Not only has the square footage grown, but the variety of products on display have expanded exponentially. The early years the show only promoted sand rails, buggies, sand oriented motorcycles/ATVs, and vendors that sold directly-related bolt on products. With the massive growth of UTVs in the sport, and their popularity with consumers, the “Sand Show” has grown to encompass a lot more than sand related vehicles and vendors, which has turned the event into the beast that it is. You can now walk the isles and experience everything from $200,000 twin turbo sand slinging sand rails, to 4 wheel drive overland motorhomes. But, without question, our eyes are feasted on the vast spread of UTVs at almost every booth. This year, four of the big UTV OEMs had large booths with a sea of new units, some making their debut to the public.
It was overwhelming to attempt capturing every opportunity for an up close look at the displays, considering there was something exciting to see from the every one of the 1000+ exhibits. Whether it be the amazing show cars at Method Wheels or the over the top sound systems at SSV Works, including a Yamaha Wolverine with a wall of speakers in it, all your senses were tingling. The heart pounding bass shook the ground like a rumbling earthquake from the San Andreas! Horsepower was everywhere, like the LS1 powered Polaris RZR XP4 and one with a the turbocharged Subaru motor. And those cars didn’t stop with speed upcharges, as they were equipped with a slew of other parts, accessories, and custom modifications. Just a few steps away, our jaws dropped at the dozen or so Textron Wildcat XXs that the crew from Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy team built. We got an extra treat as we watched them strip down and build some awesome Textron XX right there on site. Awesomeness in action!
If you were able to get past the UTVs themselves, you would run right into the rows and rows of RVs, trailers, and toy haulers. There was everything from the basic trailer to condos on wheels fit for Dan Bilzerian and his entourage. You want a wet bar in your trailer? Got that. You want a side patio or two? Just pick your color. These trailers definitely allowed the philosophy of “Let’s stay one more day” seem easy. Or maybe a month longer?
Everyday at the show consisted of mobs of off roading enthusiasts, of all varieties, in attendance. Families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers all out to enjoy what the off road industry is promoting for 2019. A very notable moment was when it was time to stand tall and honor our national anthem. Both Saturday and Sunday the national anthem was played a couple hours into the show, and each time it brought all attendees to a complete halt. No matter what negotiating haggling, laughing or talking was going on in or around the vendor booths, it all came to stop for the many patriotic off road enthusiasts. Everyone stopped and stood still to pay respect to our glorious nation. It was a very proud and humbling moment to be a part of.
We spent three long days at the show and spent countless hours in preparation and recovery. Each year, we think we’re crazy for what we do for the show, but regardless, we recognize that every bead of sweat and every minute lost of sleep is completely worth it. We get to engage with 10s of thousands of our readers, as well as get priceless face-to-face time with our off-road family. The show is exhausting, but just like any other adventure, it’s always worth it. Whether you’re in the market to look, buy, sell, or just get excited about the desert season, this is the show to get on the calendar. Start getting ready now, you only have 11 months to prepare yourself. We’ll see you there next year!