Lighting is a factor for many weekend trips, mutli-day tours and races. But when off road racing began in the 1960’s headlights were basically glorified night lights. These bad boys were better suited to keep the boogie man away than guide racers through the dark.
The 1970's and 80's got marginally better with the US adopting Halogen bulbs (they had been in Europe for a minute) and plastic lens, great improvements for cost and durability, but still not much better than modern landscape lighting.
The real fun began in the 1990’s with the advent of HID or high intensity discharge light. Which consists of two electrodes encased in a glass enclosure. This enclosure is filled with xenon gas and metal salts. FUN FACT: Because they contain xenon gas, some manufacturers refer to HID headlights as xenon lights.
Now we had a light that could shed...some light..on the dark. So naturally racers started piling these lights on. But like all the best drugs, there was a downside to HID’s. They’re power hogs. So much so that racers had to install special high amperage or multiple high amperage alternators to handle this new amp draw. Adding weight and 1 more thing that needed to be prepped (sorry budget).
By the early 2000's people just assumed life off-road would include the constant buzz of your HID ballasts, hot ass lights and having to choose which electrical components to turn off, before you flicked on your Hella Rally 4000s (so you would blow a breaker). Luckily for us the Forward Projecting LED (light emitting diode) light bar hit the market. Using electrons and a process called electroluminescence. This amazing new design meant you could install a single product that put off as much, if not more light than a bank of HIDs, with a fraction of the power usage, wiring and weight. First tested by Baja Designs at the 2005 Baja 1000. Their low profile design helped with aerodynamics, reduced the chances of knocking a light off and just made cars and trucks sexy again.
By the 2010’s the same tech that was guiding Trophy Trucks through the dark, could be purchased by you and me, in the form of compact lights and vehicle specific mounting kit. Improving safety and adding to the popularity of a now sacred ritual… the night ride.
Today the market is so big, it influences the OEM manufacturers. Yet one more way off-roading has influenced the greater automotive market in a positive way.
And that's time. Thanks for stopping by.