Racing Classes and Costs

I get numerous phone calls and emails daily asking these very same questions so with the help of the guys over at Desertrides.com and a little updating by me here is a list to reference.

Have you ever wondered what it would cost to drive a Trophy Truck? How much horsepower do class 10’s put out? Just how much travel do those beam cars really pull? I introduce the “classes article,” aimed to inform the off-road community about what kind of money it takes to build and maintain a certain vehicle, and show just what they are each capable of.

Countless drivers were polled for this article in order to gain accurate information, and I thank every one of them. In researching every class I learned a lot; in particular, limited VW motor information can be especially tricky. As one driver put it, “Limited motor power seems to be based on who sells the best lemon,” while another countered “Then there’s what’s legal and what’s questionable. It’s ridiculous.”

As can be expected, there are vehicles out of the norms listed below, and while this is a general article it is intended to be as accurate as possible while still including the full breadth of each class. Cost numbers are intended to be turn key and all-inclusive for prep; in some cases prices reflect full shop work, while in others it’s do-it-yourself. This is normal; a trophy truck usually isn’t built in someone’s garage, but a class 11 is. Classes are listed in starting order, weights are dry. Subtract 3-5 horsepower for a single port in the VW-based classes.

~ Duane McCreary, Tech Director

Trophy Truck

Unlimited single and two seat vehicles. Vehicles must have a production appearing utility or sports utility body.

Texas Desert Racing Association - Trophy TruckAka: Trick Truck, 1400 (BITD), Class 6100
Horsepower: 650-850
Wheel Travel: 24-28 Front, 32-36 Rear
Weight: 4500-8000
Top Speed: 135
Cost New: $250,000 – unlimited budget
Cost Per Prep: $25,000

Basic Rules:

  • Texas Desert Racing Association - Trophy TruckMotor must be of the same manufacturer as that of the body.
  • Class 6100 is the same as a Trophy Truck but has a SPEC Sealed engine limited to Ford 5.0L V8 or GM LS3 V8 and may NOT use a Dry sump oil systems.
  • Must use a Turbo 400 automatic transmission.

Class 1

Unlimited 4 wheel single and two seat vehicles.

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 1Aka: 1500 (BITD)
Horsepower: 350-800
Wheel Travel: 20-24 Front, 22-26 Rear
Weight: 2500-5500
Top Speed: 120-130
Cost New: $125,000-250,000
Cost Per Prep: $7,500-15,000

Basic Rules:

  • No production bodied vehicles allowed in this class. Live axle(3 or 4 linked) or dual pivot trailing arm rear suspension systems allowed.

Class 10

Single or two seat buggies limited in engine size. There are 3 different limiting motor choices per configuration (single or two seat).

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 10Horsepower: 200-250
Wheel Travel: 20-24 Front, 20-24 Rear
Weight: 1900-2100
Top Speed: 110
Cost New: $75,000-125,000
Cost Per Prep: $5,000-10,000

BASIC RULES

  • Motor limited to 4 cylinders, with a minimum production of 5,000 units (specifics below).
  • No fenders allowed.

Engine:

Single seat:

  • 1650cc 16 valve water-cooled with single carburetor or stock fuel injection
  • 1700cc 8 valve water-cooled with single carburetor
  • 1915cc air-cooled pushrod with single or dual carburetors

Two seat:

  • 1750cc 16 valve water-cooled with single carburetor or stock fuel injection
  • 1800cc 8 valve water-cooled with single carburetor
  • 2000cc air-cooled pushrod with single or dual carburetors or stock fuel injection

Stock Production Engines:

  • 2.2 or 2.4 liter GM Eco-Tech engine-Must use stock fuel injection with any manufacture ignition system. This excludes forced induction and direct injection versions
  • 2.0 liter 16-valve Ford engine I4-DI-TIVCT-Must use stock Ford direct injection with Ford manufactured ignition.
  • Most sanctioning bodies require these engines to be sealed as a stock engine.

Class 8

Full-size 2-wheel drive trucks that must retain original front end concept (I-beam, a-arm, etc). Must retain entire length of stock framerails as well as be a readily available vehicle in the U.S.A.(at least 5,000 units sold in a 12 month period.)

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 8Horsepower: 500-650
Wheel Travel: 22-26 Front, 26-32 Rear
Weight: 5500-6500
Top Speed: 130
Cost New: $100,000-300,000
Cost Per Prep: $5,000-15,000

BASIC RULES

  • Manufacturer’s body, engine, and chassis combination must be retained.
  • Wheelbase must be +/- 2” of that of the stock vehicle.

Engine:

  • Engine must be of the same manufacturer as the body and chassis and the engine block must be made of the same material(cast iron, aluminum, etc.) of that installed in that particular vehicle as stock.
  • Any make of automotive carburetor may be used but is restricted to one (1) four-barrel carb.
  • Stock fuel injection may be used as well.

Class 3000

Aka: Desert Lites / Predator Class

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 3000Horsepower: 150-200
Wheel Travel: 20-24 Front, 20-24 Rear
Weight: 3800 Pounds
Top Speed: 125
Cost New: $125,000
Cost Per Prep: $5,000-15,000

BASIC RULES

  • Two seat open wheeled mini cars, and two seat mini trucks (Trophy lites) VEHICLES MUST HAVE TWO OCCUPANTS.
  • Transaxle equipped vehicle NOT to exceed 103” wheelbase as measured at ride height
  • Live axle equipped vehicles NOT to exceed 111” wheelbase as measured at ride height.

Engine:

  • Engine location is open.
  • Engine is limited to stock production GM Eco-Tech 4 cyl 2.2 and 2.4 engines and must be sealed as stock engines.

Class 12

Single or two seat vehicles limited to air cooled engines.

Aka: Score Lite / 1100 (BITD)

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 12Horsepower: 135 Single-seat, 150 Two-seat
Wheel Travel: 12-18 Front, 18-24 Rear
Weight: 1650-2100
Top Speed: 90
Cost New: $40,000-80,000
Cost Per Prep: $3,500-7,000

BASIC RULES

  • Front suspension is limited to VW Type configuration; suspension must be of the twin beam, trialing arm type.
  • Front and rear trailing arms are open(length, width, and manufacturer) as well as spindles.

Engine must be a VW type 1 and limited to the following:

  • Single Seat:
    • Has a maximum of 2 valves per cylinder.
    • Displacement must not exceed 2020cc.
    • Limited to 1 carburetor; any manufacturer is acceptable.
  • Two Seat:
    • Has a maximum of 2 valves per cylinder.
    • Displacement must not exceed 2120cc.
    • Limited to 1 carburetor; any manufacturer is acceptable.
  • BITD allows the 2.0 liter 16 V I-4 engine in this class but must be sealed.
  • This is a rear engine class only, and must be placed behind the axle centerline.

Class 5

Vehicle must be a VW Sedan Type 1 Hardtop or Convertible as delivered from the factory.

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 5Horsepower: 175-250
Wheel Travel: 12-18 Front, 18-24 Rear
Weight: 2200-2400
Top Speed: 105
Cost New: $50,000-90,000
Cost Per Prep: $4,000-8,000

BASIC RULES

  • Front and rear suspension is open, as long as it retains stock concept.
  • Length, width, and manufacturer is open, as long as the wheelbase does not exceed 105 1/2” at ride height.

Engine:

  • Any manufacturer air cooled, 4 cylinder, single cam, pushrod, VW concept engine is allowed.
  • VW 4 cylinder water cooled engines may also be used.
  • Displacement is open.

ANY PRODUCTION 4-cylinder water cooled engine 2.5L or less is permitted – NO RPM LIMIT – Must retain OEM cast heads, must retain OEM cast block.

Class 7

Unlimited mini or mid-size trucks/SUV

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 7Aka: 7200 (BITD)
Horsepower:
250-550
Wheel Travel: 18-26 Front, 24-35 Rear
Weight: 4,000-5,500
Top Speed: 120
Cost New: $60,000-150,000
Cost Per Prep: $4,000-8,000

BASIC RULES

Chassis:

  • Stock frame must be retained and no material may be added or removed. Crossmembers are the exception.
  • Wheelbase must be within 2 inches of stock configuration.
  • Track width is limited to 78 inches.

Engine and Drivetrain:

  • Engine is limited to 6 cylinders; displacement is limited to 4.5 liters.
  • Engine must be located within 1 inch of stock mounting location.
  • Transmission is open. Front differential must remain stock but may be strengthened.
  • Rear axle assembly must use a standard automotive production housing and third member.

Suspension:

  • Front suspension must retain the original stock concept (a-arms, i-beam, etc.).
  • Shock may not protrude through the hood.
  • Rear suspension is open.

BITD Rules (new for 2007):

  • Engine is limited to 6 cylinders; displacement is open.
  • Track width is limited to 85 inches.
  • Vehicle must have fenders.

1/2-1600

Single or two-seat buggies limited to 1600cc Type 1 engine and Type 1 suspension components.

Texas Desert Racing Association - 1/2-1600 ClassAka: 2000 (BITD)
Horsepower:
77-82 Single seat (dual port), 82-87 Two-seat (dual port)
Wheel Travel: 9-10 Front, 16-21 Rear
Weight: 1550-1600
Top Speed: 75-85
Cost New: $30,000-60,000
Cost Per Prep: $2,500-6,000

BASIC RULES

Suspension Components:

Front:

  • Suspension is based on VW Type 1 ball join or link pin style
  • Any manufacturer’s beam of 2 steel torsion tubes may be used but must retain stock VW width.
  • Front trailing arms may be reinforced or replaced but must retain stock length and width.
  • Track width will be measured from wheel mounting serface to the opposite; maximum is 55 1/2″.

Rear:

  • Suspension is based on VW Type 1 (IRS) or swing axle
  • Trailing arms may be replaced or reinforced as long as length is retained at +/- 1″.
  • Torsion tube may be replaced or reinforced and torsion adjusters may be installed; any manufacturer may be used.
  • Trackwidth may not exceed 58 1/4” and is measured wheel mounting face to the opposite site.
  • Entire outer cv must remain inside of the trailing arm inner bearing; no midboard or out-board hubs allowed.

5/1600

Baja bugs limited to 1600cc type 1 motor and type 1 suspension parts. Must retain working doors, stock floor pan and baja bug fenders.

Texas Desert Racing Association - 5/1600 ClassAka: 5150 (BITD)
Horsepower:
85-90 (dual port)
Wheel Travel: 9-10 Front, 15-18.5 Rear
Weight: 1750-1900
Top Speed: 80-85
Cost New: $20,000-50,000
Cost Per Prep: $2,000-4,000

BASIC RULES

Suspension Components:

Front:

  • Suspension is based on VW Type 1 ball join or link pin style.
  • Any manufacturer’s beam of 2 steel torsion tubes may be used but must retain stock VW width.
  • Front trailing arms may be reinforced or replaced but must retain stock length and width.
  • Track width will be measured from wheel mounting serface to the opposite; maximum is 55 1/2″.

Rear:

  • Suspension is based on VW Type 1 (IRS) or swing axle.
  • Trailing arms may be replaced or reinforced as long as length is retained at +/- 1″.
  • Torsion tube may be replaced or reinforced and torsion adjusters may be installed; any manufacturer may be used.
  • Trackwidth may not exceed 58 1/4” and is measured wheel mounting face to the opposite site.
  • Entire outer cv must remain inside of the trailing arm inner bearing; no midboard or out-board hubs allowed.

7S

Vehicles built from a 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive mini or mid-sized pickup having a maximum stock wheelbase of 127”.

Texas Desert Racing Association - 7S ClassAka: 7100 (BITD)
Horsepower:
175-265
Wheel Travel: 12 Front, 16-20 Rear
Weight: 3200-4000
Top Speed: 100+
Cost New: $20,000-60,000
Cost Per Prep: $2,000-5,000

BASIC RULES

Suspensions Components:

  • Front and Rear suspension must be of the same manufacturer, shape, size and configuration as the stock vehicle being used.
  • All suspension components except shocks and rear leaf springs will reamin in original stock locations and mounting methods.
  • A-arms, I-beams, and front axles must remain stock length; material may be added for strength and stock mounting locations retained.
  • Rear springs may be lengthened to that of the longest stock production rear leaf spring as delivered by the manufacturer. (57 1/2″)

Engine:

  • Must be of the same manufacturer basic design and type with a max of 6 cylinders.
  • Must use the stock block and cylinder heads as delivered for highway use from the manufacturer.
  • Updating and predating is allowed within the vehicle chassis and body series.
  • Maximum displacement of 3000cc.

Jeepspeed

Production Jeep Cherokee XJ models from 1984-2001.

Texas Desert Racing Association - JeepspeedHorsepower: 250-260 Pro, 200-225 Sportsman
Wheel Travel: 10 Front, 12 Rear
Weight: 3500+
Top Speed: 100+
Cost New: Vehicle + $15,000 Pro, $10,000 Sportsman
Cost Per Prep: $1,000-2,500

BASIC RULES

Suspension Components:

  • Any manufacturer suspension lift kit may be used provided it is readily available to the general public. Kit components must be installed per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Maximum front travel is 10”.
  • Springs are open (diameter, rate, length, etc.) but must remain in the stock location.
  • A single shock absorber per side is allowed with a maximum diameter of 3” non-bypass or 2-1/2 inches with bypass. Remote reservoirs are allowed with a maximum diameter of 3” and a maximum length of 16”.
  • Leaf springs may be of any manufacture, but may only have a maximum length of 55” eye to eye measured along the curvature of the main leaf. Rear shackle length may be 6” maximum when measured eye to eye.
  • Maximum rear suspension travel is 12”.

Engine:

  • Maximum engine displacement is 4097cc (250 cu in.) This would allow a 4.0-liter engine to be rebuilt with .060 oversized pistons with a little extra for honing cleanup.
  • Stock block and cylinder head must be retained.
  • Engine must be in stock location +/- 1. Motor mounts are open.
  • Engine radiator must be in stock location +/- 1. Aluminum replacement radiators are not allowed.
  • Only street legal, unleaded pump gas may be used.

Class 9

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 9Aka: Challenger
Horsepower:
72-76 (dual port)
Wheel Travel: 5.5 Front, 9.5 Rear
Weight: 1450-1600 Pounds
Top Speed: 80+
Cost New: $8,000-15,000
Cost Per Prep: $1,000-2,500

BASIC RULES

Engine and Drivetrain:

  • Nearly stock type 1 1600cc engine is required. Case is open. Camshaft is open. Compression is limited to 7.5 to 1. Dual port heads are allowed.
  • Transmission is limited to swing-axle. Stock 1st and 2nd gears must be retained. 3rd and 4th are open. R&P must be 4.12 or 4.37. Case is open.

Suspension:

  • Stock type 1 suspension components must be used throughout. No modifications are allowed to stock parts except for the spindles. The may be reinforced and the speedometer hole filled. Must run ball-joint front end. Strengthening of beam is allowed by way of one tube attached at each shock tower. Must use stock front shock mounts.
  • Rear shock mounts are open. Spring plates are open. Torsion adjusters are allowed.
  • Maximum shock size is 2.5 inches. No external bypass allowed. No hydaulic bump stops allowed.

Other:

  • Brakes must remain stock VW but type 3 and thing drums are allowed. Drilling is allowed. May use 4 or 5 lug.
  • No aluminum wheels are allowed.
  • No power steering allowed. Tie rods and tie rod ends/heim joints are open.

Class 11

Stock production VW bug with roll cage and upgraded shocks and tires.

Texas Desert Racing Association - Class 11Horsepower: 72-76
Wheel Travel: 5.5 Front, 5 Rear
Weight: 1950-2100 Pounds
Top Speed: 90
Cost New: Vehicle + $3,000-5,000
Cost Per Prep: $500-2,500

BASIC RULES

Suspension:

  • Front axle tubes may be cut, rotated, re-welded to increase ground clearance or front torsion adjusters may be installed.
  • Shock tower may be gusseted and supported but gussets may not extended more than 2” above the torsion tube.
  • Stock front spindles and trailing arms must be retained.
  • Any rear suspension torsion bars, spring plates, and torsion bar adjusters may be used and installed.
  • Rear torsion tube may be supported, only by that tube meeting a part o the roll-cage.
  • Lower shock mounts on 1969 and older models may be shortened by no more than 1.5”.
  • Only one shock absorber per wheel is allowed. Cooling fins and resevoirs are allowed.

Engine and Drivetrain:

  • Must be of VW Type 1, 1600cc components and dimensions.
  • Cylinder heads must be single port.
  • Stock carburetor must be used, with maximum venturi size of 24.10 mm.
  • Must use stock fan shroud.
  • Air cleaner may be of any manufacturer and any size; location is open.
  • Transmission must be a stock Type 1, 4-speed bug.

Sportsman Truck

Open trucks that are usually pre-runners made up from Mid-size and Full-size vehicle. There are rule variations between sanctioning organizations. Specs may vary greatly.

Texas Desert Racing Association - Sportsman TruckAka: 1450 (MDR), 1500 (SCORE)
Horsepower:
150-300+
Wheel Travel: 13-20 Front, 14-30 Rear
Weight: 3000-4500 Pounds
Top Speed: 110+
Cost New: Vehicle + $5,000-40,000
Cost Per Prep: $500-5,000