Rain again was a factor for the Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road Racing series. Round one held a month earlier in Anaheim was
a real “Mud Bowl”. It was late afternoon before the rain paused
for round two of the series held at San Diego’s Jack Murphy
Stadium. Occasional cloud bursts eliminated practice and
qualifying as the track sat dormant under plastic. But rain or
shine over 34,000 devoted stadium fans came to watch.
Three consecutive days of rain was too much for the
protective plastic. At race time, track workers using heavy
equipment hurried to skim the goo off the top of the track. It
allowed the event to get underway but the track changed so often
throughout the evening the heavy equipment had to be brought out
for corrections periodically.
The Sport Truck main event went off without a hitch; if you
were Ivan Stewart. Stewart shared the front row with Roger Mears.
Walker Evans sat inside row two with Rob MacCachren but when the
green flag flew it was Ivan Stewart that powered the Toyota out
front. Brain Stewart got his Dodge stuck in mud at turn two and
had to set out the race.
With Ivan Stewart out front the action turned to Roger Mears
and MacCachren. But before MacCachren could be a serious threat
he tagged a barrier and allowed Rick Johnson to get around. Ivan
Stewart was long gone with five seconds separating himself and
Mears. Johnson, tried everything to catch Mears, and was able to
pull within a couple of seconds from him, but if and butt’s
were nickels we would all be rich.
Stewart appeared to be cruising to an easy victory when on
the last lap Walker Evans, who had been hung up on MacCachren’s
rear bumper, got loose and was backing up as Stewart made his way
around the track. Stewart was able to swerve and Evans just
caught his door but Stewart drove on to victory. Roger Mears was
second ahead of Johnson. Stewart’s teammate Rod Millen finished
fourth ahead of Roger Mears Jr.
Things didn’t go so easy in either of the Sport Truck heats.
The first heat race was the first test to see if their wet setup was going to work. With no qualifying the grid positions were
based on point standings from Anaheim.
Due to the inverted starting order both the Mears’ sat on
row one. The second row was made up of opposing family members
Ivan Stewart, Toyota, and Brian Stewart, Dodge. The family affair
ended in the third row as Danny Thompson and Walker Evans sat
side by side. Rivals Rick Johnson and current champ Rod Millen
were on the fourth row ahead of Rob MacCachren, who came into the
event as points leader. Evan Evans sat at the back of the pack.
The track had a rather long outside option to it, at first
most everyone took this line as the inside option was tighter and
had two muddy 180 degree turns. With the wet track the outside
appeared to offer the least resistance. Track workers would have
to come back several times throughout the night in an attempt to
make these two options equal.
Roger Mears took the outside option and came into the
intersection leading. Brain Stewart had taken the twisty inside
option and lined up second. Ivan Stewart had his Toyota hung on a
hydro barrier and was at the back of the pack before getting
going. Danny Thompson brought his Venable Ford up behind Brain’s
Dodge. Roger Mears held the lead for four laps. Everyone followed
Mears around the track except Johnson who, after working through
the traffic to second, tried the inside option and came out
Johnson held on for the win with Rod Millen a close second.
Roger Mears held the third spot and Rob MacCachren was fourth
ahead of Brain Stewart.
The second heat was a restart nightmare. I believe there
were six restarts throughout the heat. Roger Mears Jr stalled the
Nissan in turn two and Brain Stewart collided with him (blocking
the track) and caused the first restart. On the restart Ivan
Stewart grabbed the lead but before things could heat up Walker
Evans rolled his Dodge. When they got underway again Ivan Stewart
again pulled out front and Rick Johnson grabbed second, but back
in the pack Danny Thompson had the Ford tipped over causing
another restart. On what was lap four Brain Stewart rolled at the
finish line (blocking the track) so another single file restart
occurred. Danny Thompson rolled again and brought out another
restart. Ivan Stewart got hooked up on the next time out and
appeared to be pulling away when he caught the rut at the corner
before the finish line and rolled the Toyota.
When they did get to racing again Rod Millen was able to get
out front and hold on for the win. Rick Johnson put his Chevrolet
across second and third went to Ivan Stewart. Johnson later said,
“We lost a cylinder three laps into the race so I was happy to
finish, let alone end up in second.” When Stewart rolled he was
put to the back of the pack and had moved to third in three laps
of racing. Rob MacCachren was fourth and Roger Mears fifth.
Rod Millen may not have had the best night in San Diego but
his two race consistency has him leading the series points 112
over Rick Johnson’s 111. Rob MacCachren trails in third with 87.
The Sport Utility heat belonged to current points champ
Tommy Croft. Croft left the starting line and never had to look
back. Had he looked over his shoulder he would have seen Tim
Lewis. Third went to Christopher Neil and Fourth was newcomer
he main event appeared to be a repeat of the heat race.
Croft jumped out front and held the position for four laps then
got stuck in the muck as he went inside a stalled vehicle. This
allowed T.J. Clark to take over the event. Clark drove on to his
first series victory. Clark appeared confident during a pre(c)race
press luncheon by saying he had spent several hours preparing for
rain in the skid car at Bondurants driving school where he is an
instructor. Tim Lewis crossed over second ahead of Larry Noel and
Brian Collins was fourth.
After the San Diego event Tim Lewis is the points leader.
Christopher Neil has earned second and third is T. J. Clark.
Rick Reynolds appeared to take the early lead in heat one of
Super 1600 action. But Jimmy Nichols was able to cut him off at
the pass to grab the top position. Current champ Jerry Whelchel
got hung on a barrier and started last. Whelchel got lucky as Ed
Herbst rolled on the first lap creating a restart.
Once underway Nichols grabbed the lead. Except for a close
encounter with Marty Coyne on the fifth lap he was never
threatened. Coyne held on for second and Whelchel had a hard
drive into third.
The second heat appeared to belong to Eric Arras. Arras
pulled out front and was aided by a multi car pile up early on
which spread out the pack. Then Arras got his Chenowth sideways
on the sixth lap opening the door of opportunity. Gary Gall
inherited the win and Bill Goshen moved into the second spot.
Kevin Smith, the Anaheim winner, managed third and Wes Banks was
fifth ahead of Arras.
The Super 1600 main was again to be a hometown victory.
Jimmy Nichols grabbed the early lead with Marty Coyne on his
tail. A roll over on the second lap caused a restart which
allowed the pack to close in on Nichols.
Nichols was able to keep Coyne at bay for three laps but
lapped traffic held Nichols up just long enough for Coyne to slip
by. Before Nichols could get back up to power Gary Gall had taken
the second place position and third was Jerry Whelchel. That’s
how they finished with Nichols fourth.
The current reigning camp Jerry Whelchel has 76 points
tallied to lead the Super 1600 war. Second place is Jimmy Nichols
with 66 points and Kevin Smith has 65 points.
In the UltraCross action Ray Crumb rode his Kawasaki to the
main event victory over local favorite Larry Brooks. Craig Canoy
was third. The first heat race was won by Scott Myers and Jim
Holley trailed in second. The second moto went to Shaun Kalos on
his Team Noleen Yamaha and Craig Canoy crossed over in front of
Larry Brooks which gave Yamaha a clean sweep of the event.
Larry Brooks is currently leading the UltraCross series with
119 and Shaun Kalos has 110. Third place is Jim Holley with 85
SuperLite racing brought out some good action in the first
heat race. Scott Klaers won his first stadium victory but had to
work for it. Klaers overshot a corner early on and Don Archibald
was able to lead the event for five laps until he lost power.
Alex Briones took over the lead but lost traction and spun
shortly after taking the lead giving the lead back to Klaers.
Scott Klaers was followed by Sean Finley. Third went to J.C.
Dean and Briones managed to recover for fourth. Fifth was Fred
The second heat favored Clint Mears. Mears took the new
Mirage off the line and held the lead for five laps until lapped
traffic slowed him and allowed Greg George to slip by. Mears fell
back to fourth place as Jimmie Johnson took second and Frank
Chavez sneaked into third. Former motocross star Jeff Ward took
fifth. Ward was filling in for an absent Mercedes Gonzales.
In the main event Sean Finley, still fresh from his Anaheim
win, took the lead. Current champ Jimmie Johnson trailed in
second but was able to close in on several occasions. By the
third lap Greg George had pulled into third to increase the
pressure on Finley. Johnson pulled alongside on the fifth lap but
Finley held. Then at the end of a long straight Johnson out powered Finley, only to roll over, and hold up Finely which
allowed Greg George to inherit the lead.
Out front Greg George tried to put distance between himself
and Scott Klaers but Klaers was able to make a decent race of it
even though he had to settle for second. Third went to Frank
Chavez and Joe Price was fourth ahead of Shannon Millen.
Greg George has the lead in SuperLite action with 94 points
with Sean Finley in second with 70. Scott Klaers is third with
Kory Ellis was able to take his first ever 4(c)Wheel ATV main
after taking the position from veteran Mike Olmsted on the second
lap. Charles Shepherd also took advantage of Olmsted and slipped
into the second spot. Olmsted was able to hold third. Gary Denton
came home fourth and Mark Ehrhardt was fifth.
Gary Denton took off early in the first 4(c)Wheel ATV heat.
Donny Banks came charging through the pack and received a penalty
flag for his effort. Setting in the penalty box for five seconds
dropped him from second to ninth. Kory Ellis came across second
and third went to Doug Eichner. Mike Olmsted lead the first heat
for four laps until Charles Shepherd found a way around. Olmsted
held second and third went to Cris Berger.
Charles Shepherd has the 4(c)Wheel ATV lead with 71 points.
Doug Eichner has 69 with third Gary Denton with 60 points.