Coming from a distant second place Ivan Stewart stole the main event from his Toyota Teammate Robby Gordon in Las Vegas. More than 25,000 appreciative fans enjoyed round nine of the Mickey Thompson Off Road Championship Grand Prix held at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl Sept. 30.
At the event the MTEG officials announced the final event of the 10 race series would be held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Oct. 28. This will be a first for the series in two ways: The first time in San Francisco and the first time the series has held 10 events.
The Super 1600 Trophy Dash got underway right at 8 pm. The top six qualifiers lined up to battle for a trophy and the ability to psych-out the competition. As they lined up Brad Castle sat on the inside (pole) position with Frank Arciero Jr. alongside. Arciero came into the event holding second place points for the season. Points leader Mitch Mustard didn’t qualify for he dash. The second row consisted of Marty Coyne and Roger Mears Jr. Jerry Whelchel and Danny Rice finished out the field. Jerry Whelchel had made his racing come back at Denver but suffered new car blues and finished fourth there. He said before the race he owed it to his new sponsor Sage Council Racing to prove they made the right choice hiring him.
Brad Castle took the early lead and quickly pulled a couple of lengths ahead of Arciero on the first lap. Once out front the gold belonged to no one other than Brad Castle. Frank Arciero Jr. had to play second fiddle and third went to Marty Coyne. Whelchel finished in the same order of qualifying which was fifth.
In the first Sport Truck heat race Robby Gordon sat on the pole with teammate Ivan Stewart setting beside him. This was an inverted starting order (fastest being Walker Evans in the rear.) Second row consisted of Roger Mears (Nissan) inside and Rob MacCachren (Jeep). Danny Thompson was inside of row three with Walker Evans outside.
As the flag came out it was youngster Robbie Gordon jumping the flag causing the field to be reset. Once the flag flew Gordon stole the lead and Mears and MacCachren battled in the jumps for second. This let Mears pull alongside and enter in the battle for second. MacCachren rolled on the second lap but landed on all fours and began in last place.
Mears lost his third place spot as he almost flipped the Nissan allowing Thompson to take third. Mears continued for another half lap until flipped hard over the rhythm section. Mears suffered with steering problems all during practice and qualifying.
The restart was a single file affair with Robby Gordon having teammate Stewart in hot pursuit. The battle was for third place and Thompson had to hold off both Jeeps piloted by MacCachren and Evans. Evans got sideways in the rough and fell back. On the following lap Thompson took second place from Stewart, but no longer settled in until a puff of smoke sent him to the pits with a blown engine.
Gordon held on for a comfortable win. Ivan Stewart had Walker Evans right on his tail at the flag and MacCachren was the last to cross the finish line.
In the first heat for 4-wheel ATVs Gary Denton took the lead and quickly put several bike lengths between himself and Marty Hart. Denton had some mechanical problems midway through and Hart inherited the lead. Second place went to Steve Brock and third was Todd David. Fourth went to Mike Olmsted and fifth place of the 19 starters was Niclas Granlund.
Donnie Banks made his mind up early not to let the other 18 riders have a chance at the front spot. He easily took a wire-to wire victory with Kenneth Delk taking all the heat in second place. Third place went to Chris Couto and Sean Finley brought the first Yamaha across for fourth. Mark Ehrhardt made it four out of five for Honda with his fifth place finish.
Edward Moore grabbed the first heat SuperLite lead, but in the rhythm section found himself in second as the other front row setter John Hasshaw grabbed the lead and quickly put ten car lengths between himself and Moore. On the second lap Dustin Coonfield grabbed second place. Former Grand National driver Jeff Huber stole third place from Moore on the following lap. Huber hugged the inside line and moved up on the leaders. Huber was moving on the leader when he ended up nose first into the hydro barrier. The rest of the field dog piled him and he and Eddie Morris were left stranded on the track.
Just before the end Frank Chavez lost a front wheel but was able to continue. After the Huber pile-up Edward Moore took over second place. Moore was a good distance from eventual winner John Hasshaw but took second place. Third went to Chuck Parker and fourth was Ron Pierce. Frank Chavez ended up sticking his car over the side of the finish line jump for fifth place.
In the second heat for SuperLites Tim Baker read the flagman and jumped out from the second row to grab the lead but had Rennie Awana in hot pursuit. Third place was Rory Holliday followed by John Gersjes and Allen Yaros. Awana moved up into contention at nearly every corner during the first two laps but by the third lap had Holliday knocking on his door. Before Awana realized it Holliday made his move and took second place. On the last lap Awana tried to overtake Holliday but had to settle for a very close third.
The win went to Tim Baker and Rory Holliday held onto second place. Fourth place was John Gersjes and fifth went to Gilbert Valdez. There were 10 cars entered.
UltraStock heat race saw Lloyd Castle on the pole sharing the front row with Jeff Elrod. Second row consisted of the other General Tire team member Vince Tjelmeland.
Lloyd Castle grabbed the early lead. Before the first lap ended two cars, Larry Noel and Christopher Neil, sat on the back straight wedged against the wall. Meanwhile Castle enjoyed a comfortable lead with the Bridgestone sponsored VW of Jeff Elrod a distant second. At the end the front two stayed in that order. Third place was taken by Tim Lewis and Vince Tjelmeland was fourth.
In the first UltraCross heat Ryan Carlisle took the hole shot with Scott Underwood second. On the second lap Underwood took over the lead and Tallon Vohland moved into third place. By the fourth lap Carlisle and Underwood both found themselves back in the top 10 while Tallon Vohland and Jeremy McGrath battled for the lead. Vohland fell and before getting back in the saddle was 7th.
Jeremy McGrath took the win with Jim Holly working his way through the field to take second place. Third place ended up belonging to Ryan Hughes and fourth was Ray Crumb. Twenty-three bikes were entered.
Heat race one of the Super 1600s had 16 starters. Front row setter Jimmy Nichols grabbed the lead with Albert Arciero settling into second place. Going into the second lap Nichols had stretched his lead to three car lengths ahead of Arciero. On the third lap Don Kolt battled with Arciero for second. The two tangled allowing Jerry Whelchel to take second place. However first place was nearly half a straight ahead. While Whelchel was trying to catch Nichols he found current points leader, Mitch Mustard had moved up and was challenging his position.
Jimmy Nichols took a comfortable win with a hard charging Jerry Whelchel holding off Mustard for second place. The Castle brothers, Brad and Kent, were fourth and fifth.
The second group of Super 1600s had 15 starters Tommy Croft sat on the pole with Doug Ingles. The second row had Bob Gordon and Danny Rice. When the green came out it was pole setter Croft taking the lead in his Charger. Croft was assisted in turn one by Bob Gordon as he tangled with another car causing the field to be held up. This allowed Croft to gain plenty of breathing room. The battle then was for second place between Ingles, Arciero and Danny Rice. As the three entered every corner a lot of elbowing took place. The next three laps had the battle for third raging with every shift. Arciero held on the pedal down the front straight and was finally able to settle into second. A lot of Real Estate was between himself and first place Croft. With two laps to go Arciero didn’t have a lot of promise for the win and Gordon was hot on Arciero’s tail.
At the finish Tommy Croft enjoyed the checkered with Frank Arciero second and Bob Gordon third. Fourth place went to Doug Ingles and Danny Rice ended up in fifth.
In the second Sport Truck heat Roger Mears sat on the pole with Robby Gordon alongside. Ivan Stewart was behind Mears and Ron MacCachren sat alongside Stewart. Walker Evans and Danny Thompson made up row three. Thompson had blew an engine in the first heat and was starting with a back up truck. Mears was able to repair the torn off wheel on the Nissan.
Gordon read the flagman and slipped into the lead. In the turn one confrontation Mears was negated to third as MacCachren stuck his Jeep into second. On the following lap Gordon lost the lead to MacCachren and fell into third place as Mears too got around while Gordon bicycled his Toyota up on two wheels. Roger was able to set up MacCachren going into the corner before the rhythm section and took the lead. The battle now was for second place as MacCachren and Robby Gordon traded paint. MacCachren and Gordon traded the second spot back and forth but before the fifth lap ended MacCachren got up on his side.
Roger Mears is back. He has suffered from one teething problem after another with the Hardbody Nissan. However, after winning the main event at Denver and taking this heat it appears that Nissan, with Roger Mears at the wheel, is back in serious Grand National contention. Toyota’s young superstar Robby Gordon earned his second place finish. and third place went to Walker Evans.
A semi main event was staged for the Super 1600 cars. The two top finishers would transfer into the main event. The over anxious drivers had their fare share of collisions during the heat. Scott Galloway avoided the trouble and won the event. He and Gary Gall transferred to the main event.
MAIN EVENTS: A total of 24 4-wheel ATVs took to the track in the main event. It was Steve Borck that took the lead but he had Marty Hart in a close second place. On the third lap Borck stumbled for a moment and Hart pulled alongside. However at the end of the rough section it was still Borck. Then on the following lap Borck wedged his front end into the hydro barrier and Hart was held up. There was Donny Banks setting in fourth place. He was able to sling around the congestion and steal the lead.
Donnie Banks went on for the win and second place went to Steve Borck. Marty Hart was able to regain third place and fourth went to Chris Couto.
The UltraStock main had Vince Tjelmeland on the pole and Tim Lewis alongside. Jeff Elrod and Lloyd Castle shared the second row.
Vince Tjelmeland got spun sideways in turn one and teammate Castle took the lead. Third place was Chris Neal while Elrod settled into fourth. Joey Moore short cut the course, over a hydro barrier, and found himself up on his side causing a yellow.
On the single file restart the General Tire Pulsars held position but third place was taken by the Corvette of Joey Moore. Before next lap however Moore found himself in fifth. Tjelmeland turned the Pulsar over and caused a restart just before the white flag came out.
On the restart everyone got physical but Lloyd Castle was able to hold onto his win and Tim Lewis grabbed second. Third place went to Chris Neil.
In the SuperLite main it was Rory Holliday taking the hole shot with John Hasshaw, Tim Baker and Ed Moore battling for second. Holliday pulled a comfortable lead until he clipped a stalled car in a corner and pulled off. This gave the lead to John Haashaw then before the lap was out, so was Haashaw. Coming from deep within the pack was Art Gersjes to take the lead. Gersjes was able to hold off Rennie Awana for the win.
In the Super 1600 main Frank Arciero Jr. shared the front row with Jerry Whelchel. Tommy Croft lined up next to Jimmy Nichols in row two an the third row was Mitch Mustard and Bob Gordon.
Jerry Whelchel took the early lead but Nichols pulled alongside in the rough section. Whelchel pushed on the pedal and put several car lengths between himself and Nichols. Nichols had could not spend to much concentration on Whelchel as he had Tommy Croft and Brad Castle in hot pursuit. Castle caught the hydro barrier and stalled giving the battle for second to Croft, Mustard and Nichols. Shortly after Croft pulled off smoking.
Jerry Whelchel held on for the win and waved to the crowd as he crossed over for his first main event win for 1989. Second place went to points leader Mitch Mustard and third went to Jimmy Nichols. Fourth place was Albert Arciero and brother Frank followed in fifth.
A total of 22 riders came out to battle in the UltraCross main event. Coming from the middle of the pack Tallon Vohland challenged for the lead in turn one. Vohland grabbed the lead on lap two and took off pulling away from the others. Second place was taken by Jim Holley on lap three and on the following lap Lowell Thomson closed in on Holly. Vohland was way out front all alone. Thomson out jumped Holley for second and Holley lost another position in the rough just before the checkered.
Tallon Vohland took top honors home for Team Green with Lowell Thomson taking second place on a Yamaha. Ryan Hughes finished third ahead of Jim Holley and fifth went to Ray Crumb.
TRUCK MAIN: In the Sport Truck main Walker Evans sat on the pole with Robby Gordon. Second row had Roger Mears and Ivan Stewart matched up. Rob MacCachren and Danny Thompson made up row three.
Robby Gordon took the lead from Evans. Gordon’s Toyota teammate Stewart grabbed second the lap ended and Roger Mears got third as Evans bobbled on the sweeper. With both Toyotas out front it appeared to be a run-away event. But then Roger Mears entered the picture and began racing with Stewart. However, Mears broke a steering component and pulled off.
Robby Gordon had what appeared to be a comfortable lead but on the following lap Ivan Stewart showed the crowd how he earned the Ironman title. He caught up with Gordon, who must have thought it was time to take a breather, and in a simple cut back inside pass Ivan Stewart stole the show. Soon after Gordon found his back door hot with the red Jeep of Walker Evans. Evans also was able to get around for a moment but Gordon was able to regain second. The race for second was really over when Evans bobbled and momentarily stalled the Jeep.
Repeating last year’s performance Ivan Stewart came from behind to take the Las Vegas main event. Stewart later attributed his win to track condition and his Yokohama tires. Robby Gordon made it 1-2 for Toyota and third place went to Walker Evans.