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main flavors: a 16-valve, DOHC engine of
less than 1650cc, usually from Honda or
Toyota, or a sealed and spec, 2.4-liter GM
Ecotec. Both varieties have their fans and
detractors. A positive of the smaller, built
engines is more revs when you need
them. The downside is cost and reliability.
That engine’s hanging out back – like,
really hanging out back. These open-
wheelers are rear-engined, not mid-
engined like IndyCars or other formula
cars. The engines are connected to a
four-speed manual transaxle, where most
of the trucks run automatic transmissions
or Xtracs. That makes driving a Pro
Buggy a lot busier; even more so when
you add in the turning brake.
Yes, the turning brake. While the trucks
do most of their steering with the throttle,
the buggies use a turning (or cutting)
brake to maneuver through the turns.
Essentially, it’s a hand-operated brake that
only applies braking force to the inside
rear wheel to help the buggy turn.
“If you try to drive this thing into a
corner and do nothing but turn the wheel,
you won’t go anywhere but into a wall,
because it doesn’t turn unless you’re using
that turning brake,” Mason explains. “It’s
pretty interesting – you don’t really use the
brakes in the corner to get slowed down;
you’re setting yourself to get turned into a
corner, then you’re on the turning brake all
the way through the corner and on the
LUCAS OIL OFF ROAD RACING SERIES
gas also. You pretty much never let off full
throttle all the way through the corners.”
“The turning brake is really fun
because you can more or less throw it
into the corner so hard that you’re going
to spin out,” says Bradley Morris, driver of
the No. 24 K&N Pro Buggy, “but you can pull
the turning brake so it comes off the corner
fast, so you almost drive it like a Pro 4.”
Morris, who had five wins in 2013 prior
to October’s finale, also races Pro Lite
(three wins pre-finale), so he has a good
base to compare classes. He also races
sprint cars, and says that in some ways Pro
Buggy reminds him of that style of racing.
The shifting and braking make driving a
Pro Buggy busy and tough – enough so that
some short-course drivers won’t touch them.
“When the truck guys get in a buggy,
they’re like, ‘We don’t want anything to do
with this. It’s too much work,’” says
What Pro Buggies lack
in power, they make
up for with their light
weight and sharp
handling. Larry Job
(ABOVE) likens them
to guided missiles...
with added mud.
DAVE MASON, JR.
“Buggies handle so well.
They’ll fly through the air
and over the jumps as well
as any truck”