For the last 15 years, the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, CA has been home to what has been known as one of, if not, the largest off-road shows since the infamous SCORE Off-Road shows that used to take place at the Anaheim Convention Center. The timing of this show has always been perfect since it’s held roughly about a month before the main SouthWest dune season kicks off in late October. Many of its attendees have chosen this show to look for the latest and greatest in parts for their ATVs, Sandrails, Motorcycles and eventually SxS vehicles. This wasn’t your typical swap meet off-road show, because while companies did offer show special deals, many of the machines that were sold here went for $100,000 or more. Of course that is for most of your high-performance high end sand cars, but as the economy started to suffer so did the show.
I’ve been attending this event, either as a vendor or spectator, since its inception and have seen the good and bad. In when people thought it would be the end, Yamaha came out with the industry changing Rhino SxS and that machine alone kicked off a whole new market and put a spark back into the off-road community and economy. Since then, companies like Polaris, ArcticCat and Can-Am have released their own SxS vehicles that are targeted toward the desert and dune enthusiasts that has since lit a fire under many businesses. This year as I walked around the Costa Mesa Fairgrounds, it seemed as if the name of the show could easily change to the SxS Super Show. What used to be a show that was flooded with custom ATVs and sand rails, has now been overrun with custom built UTVs, which come with a price tag that is close to some of the more powerful but less multi-purposed sand rails.
This year to make things even more appealing to the masses, Robby Gordon had worked out with the Fairgrounds and promoters of the show to include the popular Stadium Super Truck each evening of the show.
How much better could it get? Walk around and look for a bargain, then when the sun goes down be able to catch some tire-rubbing, bumper-banging off-road action. Well, from what I saw as soon as I entered the parking for the show, it all paid off. The parking lot was more packed than i’ve seen in years and once I entered the gates, it seemed as if every vendor there had a sizeable crowd to see what they had to offer. UTVs definitely dominated this show, but if you looked hard enough there were some impressive ATVs hidden but well worth taking a look.
Looking for a deal on some paddle tires? Fullerton Sand Sports was on hand with more rubber than some department tire wholesalers and they were priced to move. Whether you have a fire-breating supercharged LS1 long travel sand rail, SxS to cruise the family around or a quick duning ATV, they had just the tire you needed. They even had their latest release, the dual-sport Delta FX tire ready for purchase if that’s what you were looking for.
If you were set on tires and wheels but had your eye open for some LED lights to illuminate your riding experience, companies like Lazer Star Lights, Rigid Industries, Vision X and numerous others had some great displays and deals to go hand in hand. One of the more popular vendors where I saw a massive crowd of people at was the Rugged Radios booth.
Rugged was running show specials that were hard to pass if you were in the market for that product. Everything from MC/ATV communication systems to full blown race radio setups were on sale and flying out the door.
If you’re a baller and want to cruise the dunes in style, then you need to check out some of the beautiful sand cars being built from Funco Motorsports. The George family has been building quality sand cars for quite a few years and every year they seem to get better and better. Most of the cars you see in their booth at the show were from orders placed at the show the previous year and customers will pick them up at the end of the weekend. It’s also very common for international customers to come over to the show and put in their orders for some trick cars from this highly reputable company.
Buckshot Motorsports also builds some of the nicest sand cars that you’ll ever see in the dunes and the sleek black Monster Energy car that belongs to owner Andrew Buck definitely turned some heads passing by his booth.
If monster HP V-8 sand cars are a little too much for you, then all you needed to do was walk around to booths like SDR Motorsports or Bert’s Mega Mall where some custom built Polaris and Can-Am UTVs were waiting for a good home, granted you could qualify for pricing on these $35,000 and above machines.
If you’ve never been, I highly recommend that you put this show on your bucket list to attend at least once in your life. While at times it can be overwhelming to see all the show has to offer, but if you’re looking to build or have a custom sand machine, this is definitely one of your best places to shop.
Here’s a quick gallery of the best machines and products we came across at the show.