Another Sand Sports Super Show (SSSS) has come and gone here in Southern California. We always enjoy the SSSS. Its the one event where we get to see all of our members, all of the new goods in our sport, and the best part is it means that the desert riding season is upon us. We at UTVUnderground.com always enjoy being a part of this well oiled machine we call the Sands Sport Show, its organization and size is like nothing else our sport has and we are always honored to be a part of it.
The 2013 show was extremely significant in our eyes. While UTVs have been growing in numbers at the show for many years, this years show exuded the dominance that UTV has on the sport. When I say dominance I am speaking purely in terms of growth and sales numbers. Its clear to anyone who walks the halls and corridors of the OC Fairgrounds that the UTV market is in fact the fastest growing and quite possibly now the absolute largest segment of the southwest desert recreation segment. Even the leading buggy builders had custom UTVs to display and show off.
We have watched the show transform over the years. Like any industry show, trends will surely affect what companies build and bring to display. We have seen the show when ATV’s were the dominant machine, buggies and their builders would run the main buildings and lawns with dominance, even lifted / custom trucks had a bit of an uprising at the Sand Show at one point. But now, you could argue that the Sand Sports Super Show is in fact the UTV Super Show. To find a quad on display is almost impossible now, we did see a couple but I couldn’t tell you where I saw them or what was special about them. Unless you walk into Building 10 where Funco, Tatum and Racer display, its almost hard to find a buggy also. Of course the buggies that are there on display are without a doubt the best buggies this sport has ever seen! As a UTV guy I am thrilled at the boom in our sport and the dominance our market showed at this event. But as a fan of the sport #1 I love to go and drool over those insane Funco’s and Racer’s just like anyone else.
If I am Funco or one of the builders still left making it in the realm of custom sand cars I would feel pretty good about myself. Years ago buggy builders were a dime-a-dozen. But since the economy took its dump back in 2007 the only builders still alive are those who simply make the best and were able to weather the storm. For most of them I think its clear that the UAE has played a major role in their survival as well. While the sand car market plummeted here in the US, new money and growth of the sand recreation sport in the middle east has boomed. This boom shows today here at the SSSS. It was exciting to see the amount of Middle Eastern consumers attend the show this year. Many have come for years but this year there was a significant increase. I even noticed a few companies based out of the UAE with booths, one being a shipping company from Dubai which was sharing space with Funco. It is easy to assume that many of these Middle Eastern consumers / attendees are from Dubai but they are from all over the Middle East. Many in attendance this year were from Qatar, a new hotbed for sand toy activity. And while they like to spend gobs of money on high end sand cars, they too have a fondness for UTVs. We have made many friends in the UAE and Qatar over the years, mainly due to our visit to the UAE with Funco back in early 2012. They love UTVUnderground.com and they love their UTVs!!
It is an exciting time for our sport. The economy appears to be on the rebound, OEMs and dealers alike are paying a lot of attention to us as consumers, listening to our wishes and delivering on our needs and wants. Aftermarket companies are working harder and faster then ever to provide not only functional aftermarket parts and accessories but they are doing so at great prices making it easy for many to upgrade and stylize their machines. Just the fact that Polaris, Can-Am and Arctic Cat are hosting their own booth’s at the show says something about where we are at and where we are going. I doubt you will find a Ford, Chevy or Dodge booth at the Off-Road Expo? I am thrilled for the 2013-14 desert season and the events that are planned for it. I am thrilled at where we are at as a site, where we are at as a sport and even more excited for where we are headed in the coming years. As enthusiasts we should be equally excited about the freedoms we still have to ride freely despite stricter safety laws and regulations many are trying to put in place. We also need to keep in mind that nothing comes free and that we need to all do our part to preserve what freedoms we do still enjoy in terms of land use. So as we head on into this years desert riding season lets remember to watch out for one another, make sure we all do our part to represent our sport and culture in the best way possible, clean up after ourselves when camping in the desert and riding, and most of all lets really enjoy the machines we have and places we have to ride!
See you next year!!
Photos by Ernesto Araiza // UTVUnderground.com