As the popularity of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series continues to grow, the diverse skill set of the drivers joining one of the championship’s nine classes continues to expand. Much like newly crowned Production 1000 UTV Champion Robert Stout, the class’ newest Rookie of the Year also honed his talents on asphalt. Yucaipa, California’s Robby Hornsby has achieved considerable success on short tracks throughout the state, and continues to race late model stock cars whenever he’s not on dirt. However, just a couple years ago he decided to give short course off road a shot and jumped into the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series in the Production 1000 UTV division. Hornsby’s long-term goal was to make the jump to full time competition in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, and he did just that for the 2019 season.
The success the 27 year old driver achieved in the regional series paid big dividends on the national level, where he was able to mix it up right away alongside the likes of Production 1000 UTV’s most prominent competitors. Things looked bleak for Hornsby Racing after a big crash at the Ensenada, Mexico round, which left him with a destroyed car, but they went to work and did everything they could to be ready for the following event at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, Nevada. After suffering the tragic loss of his grandmother the day before he was set to race, Hornsby was able to capture a memorable and heartwarming victory that vaulted him to a fourth place finish in the final standings and Rookie of the Year honors.
With a full season under his belt, Hornsby is looking to achieve even more in 2020.
You’ve been racing short course off road for a couple years now and have achieved success in the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series. What ultimately brought you to make the decision to join the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series full time and chase the Rookie of the Year accolades?
It was honestly the plan from the start. I ran I think four [Lucas Oil Regional Off Road] races in 2018, and that was to get my seat time and figure out what the car needs and how to drive it, because it was my first time in dirt and short course racing. It was more of me just getting my feet wet before I jump up into the national level and try to compete for a championship.
How was your first season of national competition and what would you say was the biggest difference for you compared to your experience on the regional level?
In regionals, the competition isn’t as strong as it is on the national level. Where you have two or three fast guys in the regionals, you have 10 or 12 in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. The nationals in my first year I think was pretty good. We had some really good success and we had some really bad failures at the wreck in Mexico. It’s just one of those things. It’s a learning curve. It’s a huge learning curve for me. I do all my own shock tuning, I’m learning how to drive the car in four wheel drive and on dirt, plus I’m learning car set up because I don’t know it. Coming from asphalt it was completely different.
In addition to off road, you’re also a late model racer. How has your experience on paved ovals contributed to your continued development driving off road?
I think where the asphalt comes over is that no matter what you’re racing, the fastest way to be fast is to be smooth. The smoother you are, the faster you can get through the corners and whatnot. Even though in off road it’s pretty bumpy and you’ve got to be a little exotic with the steering wheel, at the end of the day if you can get through the corner without making a bunch of movements, you’re going to be faster. On asphalt, that’s the key to success - one, having a good handling car, but two, just being super smooth and consistent.
What ultimately made Production 1000 UTV the most appealing option to jump into on your off road endeavor?
Well, one, for some reason if we stop racing I have a toy. I have a car I can take to Glamis. I can take it to the desert. I can take it wherever. But, the main reason I picked it was that it costs money to race, but you can have a million dollars and can only do so much to these UTVs. It’s not like we can just play who has the bigger wallet. You’re in a box rules wise and it puts the driver in the seat. That’s what I like about it, and that’s why I think the competition in the Production 1000 class is where it’s at.
You were able to break through and capture your first career win at Reno in July. Can you describe what that entire experience was like?
That was a crazy one. My grandma passed away the day before that. We wrecked the car in Mexico, but luckily for us the race in Missouri got cancelled because we wouldn’t have made it, because we were still fixing the car. We got the car back and were ready maybe a week, but really a couple days before Reno. We struggled, honestly, out in Reno with speed. Luckily it was two days of racing and we found some speed for the second day. Unfortunately we had a little bit of bad luck on the first two laps, but we were able to come back and be in the spot to take advantage of a mistake by Brock Heger or Myles Cheek, or whoever it was, and the battle for the win with a quarter lap to go. It was insane to have my family there and everything.
Given how well 2019 went for you, what are your goals looking ahead to 2020?
To win races. Bottom line. To win races. Ultimately a championship is what we want, but there’s a lot of racing and a lot of things can happen. If we can win more races than anyone else, it’ll put us in a good spot.
What are your long term goals in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and short course off road in general?
Long term goals would be to find some corporate sponsors or factory UTV sponsors to either back me in a UTV, or to find some corporate sponsors to move up. Maybe an energy drink company or anyone that supports off road. Ultimately you want to move up and get better, but it costs money and I’m lucky there’s a small group of people that support us. I’m blessed to be doing what I’m doing.
Who would you like to thank for all the support you received this season?
First off, my wife. She deals with a lot. Allan at Extreme Performance. He built me my race car and has supported me in whatever I’ve needed, fabrication wise, building wise. He’s always there if I need a hand. Vinny with S.M.S. Heating & Air Conditioning. He helps us get to the races. DASA Racing for helping us put the power to the ground so that we’re able to compete, and Fields of Hemp. They came on and continue to come on for 2020 and help make our program even better.
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