Stadium Off-Road racing was originally introduced to race fans in 1979 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum stadium by the late Mickey Thompson. After a 25 year absence former MTEG competitor, Robby Gordon, now promoter and racer, brought his Stadium Super Truck SST series to the historical site. The event held three separate types of racing with the featured SST trucks, Super Buggy and Monster Trucks. The historical event drew a nice crowd and all seemed to enjoy the racing action.
The night was filled with nostalgia and with some decent racing. At the end of the evening a couple of familiar names stood atop the podium as Robby Gordon captured the feature SST main event and Jerry Whelchel conquered the Super Buggy main. Making it a double win for the Speed Energy group Larry Swim driving the Bigfoot #15 Monster truck took home the top honors in that class.
Not familiar to off-road fans was the introduction of the race course being three fourths asphalt with steel ramps to challenge the drivers. The uphill sections had two options with one requiring drivers to jump over the competition below and climb up the peristyle dirt section. The other option was paved but required the racers negotiate an S-turn and resulting in them slowing down before climbing out of the stadium floor. This proved to be the option that most chose. With two separate uphill options racers had to deal with opposing traffic at an intersection behind the peristyle. This area proved to be where many of the passes occurred. The down hill section was dirt with a sand pit at the bottom located just before a steep step-up jump. From there the back section had two steel ramps to jump before entering the left hand sweeper. The front straight ramp put the racers in the air again as they crossed the finish line.
Stadium Super Trucks
Round one of the SST action lined up seven SST trucks with Justin Matney setting on pole with Mike Jenkins. When the racing got underway Jenkins had trouble in the S-turn ending up nose first into the rail. Coming from the second row Arie Luyendyk Jr grabbed the lead with Matney second and Ricky Johnson third. The front three stayed in order for a couple of laps until Matney had trouble behind the peristyle allowing Luyendyk to pull some breathing room over Johnson who took over the second spot. Quickest in qualifying, Robby Gordon, who started in the back of the pack, had maneuvered his way into third. The front three held their positions for the remainder of the eight lap heat.
The second heat race PJ Jones had little trouble taking charge from his front row starting position. Jeff Ward grabbed the second spot with Adrain Cenni third. On the second lap Cenni got loose in the section behind the peristyle and Greg Adler took over his third place running position. On the next lap Adler suffered some handling problems and spun out giving third to Rob MacCachren. After a couple more laps Ward’s truck started spewing white smoke and later had to retire with a heating problem. This put MacCachren in second but with just a couple of laps to go he had no time to make up the lead Jones enjoyed. Winning the heat was PJ Jones with MacCachren second and Lalo Laguna third while Adler just missed the podium.
The trucks had an LCQ with Justin Loftin and Nick Baumgartner up front at the start. Loftin had no trouble dominating right away with Baumgartner second and Greg Adler in third. On the second lap Adler was able to power around Baumgartner on the back stretch for second but Loftin was nowhere in sight. Loftin took the win with Adler second and Baumgartner held on for third.
The SST 20-lap main had 13 trucks on course. Due to an inversion of the starting order Robby Gordon sat on pole with Lalo Laguna second in a staggered line up. There was a long time taken to introduce the drivers but once the green flag came out the action heated up quickly. Starting from the third row Ricky Johnson decided to take the huge infield cross-over jump but when he landed the front end collapsed putting him out of the race. Robby Gordon had grabbed the lead with Laguna second and third row starter Rob MacCachren had shuffled through into third. Jeff Ward had traction problems in the sand pit and with little momentum ended up getting high centered on the steep jump after the pit. There Ward sat as the field drove by. On the second lap Laguna saw both MacCachren and Justin Loftin get by him. Laguna would have more issues and drop a couple of spots further back as the race progressed. The front three had an equal amount of space between each of them with Gordon out front in the clear. A mid-race yellow slowed the action down and brought the pack back together. Once racing again the front three remained nose to tail. Action was again stopped when Arie Luyendyk Jr got his truck on its side in the sweeper turn. Once racing got underway again Gordon held on for the win but had Rob MacCachren and Justin Loftin both pressuring him. Then with just a couple of laps to go PJ Jones was able to get by Loftin when Loftin got caught up in Nick Baumgartner’s spin in turn one. Robby Gordon went on to win the first truck main in the last 25 years at the LA Coliseum. Rob MacCachren held on for second and PJ Jones took the final podium spot.
The Super Buggy heat had 10 cars line up with Eddie Tafoya and Apdaly Lopez sharing the front row. On the start Eric Jacobus (second row starter) and Tafoya got hung up in the S-turn. Lopez inherited the lead but before the lap ended Winbury was able to get underneath him in the sweeper with Adrian Cenni taking second and Lopez third. The running order remained the same for a couple of laps before Winbury had trouble negotiating the right hand turn going into the sand trap. This gave the lead to Cenni with Lopez trailing. Once out front Cenni distanced himself from Lopez for an easy win. Apdaly Lopez crossed over second and Jerry Whelchel had moved into third.
In the Super Buggy 12-lap main event the crowd was entertained early as Adrian Cenni added to his Wildman handle as he spun in the sweeper while leading and ended up with his front end hung up over the barriers. This gave the lead to Apdaly Lopez with Jerry Whelchel second and then Tyler Winbury. As the pack drove around Cenni he was smoking his rear tires attempting to unhook himself from the barrier. The crowd roared their applause when he did free himself and get back into the action. Lopez had Whelchel dogging his every move for a couple of laps before Lopez seemed to hesitate after the step-up jump. He was able to keep the lead but when he came around to the front straight he stalled giving up his lead. With Lopez setting in the middle of the track brought out a yellow condition where officials tried pushing him but the car would not start ending his night. When racing began again Jerry Whelchel was the leader with Winbury second and Rino Navero third. On the restart Cenni tried the huge jump option heading out of the stadium but broke his suspension on landing ending his evening. The front three stayed in order for a couple of laps before Navero lost control in the high speed sweeper sending his car up and over the retaining wall. Navero ended his race as a front row spectator. With Navero out Eddie Tafoya inherited third. With attrition taking its toll on the competitors the pack finally got up to race momentum. A couple of laps later Tafoya and Phil Bollman tangled in the S-turn with Bollman taking over third. Jerry Whelchel went on to take the checkers but he had pressure from Winbury throughout the final laps of the race. Phil Bollman took the final podium spot and Erick Jacobus was fourth.