FOX Takes First Live Valve Premier Class Desert Racing Victory

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Historic result for Racing Applications Development (RAD) semi-active electronic suspension

Live Valve achieved its first premier Unlimited class desert racing victory, further validating semi-active electronic suspension at the pinnacle of off-road racing, as found on the popular Ford Raptor. The RAD program represents 45 years of FOX philosophy: cutting-edge concepts developed and torture tested in extreme environments by demanding athletes.

For months, FOX Factory Motorsports engineers, tuners and racers have been developing the patent-pending RAD Live Valve semi-active electronic suspension for premier Unlimited class desert racing, and that effort has paid off with the first victory and podium with Justin Lofton at the Best In The Desert BlueWater Desert Challenge in Parker, Arizona October 24-25.

“This project has been in the making for 18 months, and the first system was installed on a truck a year ago,” FOX Director of Motorsports Bobby Smith explained. “A lot of work has gone into this project and this win validates all of our efforts. The team is dedicated to progressing the sport and this is our first swing at doing that. This win also solidifies the newly formed FOX Motorsports program and is a glimpse into what’s to come.”

Lofton piloted his #41 2WD Jimco-built Trick Truck, nicknamed “Fury,” to overall victory with co-driver Derek Balcunas on combined times over the two races held on consecutive days, finishing nearly five minutes ahead of second place. Lofton and Balcunas won the first day’s event by nearly three minutes on Saturday, only to suffer a flat tire on the second day, clawing back despite the setback to finish third and lock in overall victory on Sunday.

What does Lofton have under the hood and wheel wells? A 540 cubic-inch big block with 1,200hp to the crank controlled with a
5-speed manual transmission and a top speed of 150 mph+, rolling on 39-inch tall Yokohama tires.

“It was a great weekend and way to end the 2020 BITD season,” Lofton said. “Everyone at Lofton Racing and FOX Factory have been working hard on getting the #41 truck back on the podium. Late in the season we were able to get our second truck ‘Fury’ back on the track with major upgrades, with one being the addition of RAD Live Valve. As the holes grew with every lap on the course, with Live Valve I was able to keep my foot to the floor.”  

What’s RAD?

In an effort to continually develop highly advanced suspension products, FOX constantly tests prototype components in the field under the world’s best racers. Some of these components – or parts of them – eventually make it into production, many of them do not. Testing in real-world environments, such as in racing applications, is a critical part of how we determine what works best – not only for its professional athletes but ultimately for every consumer who puts their trust in FOX products. 

“When we started this project the goal was to take a premier Unlimited class desert racing truck to the next level, which is no easy feat as they are already incredible machines,” Smith added. “With passive shocks we have always had to tune these trucks with tradeoffs, not too soft so the truck doesn’t bottom out and not too stiff so it’s comfortable.

“External bypass shocks progressed the sport because they allowed less compromises over a monotube shocks and electronics are going to eliminate all compromises. Imagine an off-road vehicle with three feet of suspension travel that can corner like an on-road sports car or sense when you’re in the air and firm the suspension for the landing. The possibilities are endless and we’re just scratching the surface, which we are extremely excited about.”

What’s Live Valve?

Live Valve technology continuously and intelligently adjusts compression damping in real-time to deliver the ideal ride for any terrain or driving situation. By utilizing various vehicle sensors and accelerometers, the shocks can instantaneously adapt to inertial, steering, braking, and acceleration inputs to actively maximize handling, comfort, and bottom-out resistance. This same technology is available on the Ford Raptor, Polaris RZR and Honda Talon UTVs, and mountain bikes from Pivot, Giant and Scott, among others.

FOX’s patented and race-proven external bypass design provides position-sensitive damping that ramps up as the shock travels further in the stroke. At ride height, fluid is allowed to freely bypass the main damping piston to deliver a plush, compliant ride in light terrain. Transitional compression zones progressively decrease bypass flow for a smooth increase in damping as the shock travels further in the stroke. Hydraulic bump and rebound catch zones at full compression and extension prevent harsh bottoming and top-outs. The result is comfortable and controlled ride with extreme off-road performance.

Complete race results are here.

// ridefox.com/livevalve