Stadium racing is back and I am sure short course fans will like it. Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck Series SST has brought back door-to-door, dirt-slinging racing action into stadium venues. The new series features four unique classes of race vehicles with Gordon’s 600 HP specialty built SST trucks as the feature event. Alcohol burning unlimited horse power Monster Trucks have been incorporated into the program along with Super Buggies and Super Trophy Karts, sporting truck bodies, to round out the show.
SST is not a duplicate format of previous stadium racing but old MTEG fans will see some features have been incorporated into the new program. Gordon saw first hand how the teams with deep pockets ruled in the previous stadium events and now has leveled the playing field with Spec Trucks built and maintained by SST Racing in Charlotte, NC. Each truck is built the same and each of the V8 motors are dynoed before each race to ensure this to be a driver’s event. On Friday each driver drew for his chassis for the event. Driver’s crew then installed the supplied body kits that were fully decaled with their sponsors to the chassis. Since SST maintains the spec trucks drivers need a minimum crew. The driver’s crew made suspension and seating adjustments and were ready to race. To make this a truly driver’s sport the driver and crew do not have radio communication during the race.
The first of the 12 race series was held at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The unique track design offered a high speed straight, banked turns, flat turns, whoop section, hair-pin turns and totally insane double cross over jumps where drivers jumped over competitors below them. The crowd was pulled to the edge of their seats when other competitors raced underneath the vehicles flying above. The huge jumps were created by positioning tractor trailer containers across the track and covering them with enough dirt to create the spectacular air from the racers. The jumps sent the competitors over 30 in the air. Similar to some of the old stadium event tracks this one offered a turn with two options allowing the competitors a different avenue to encourage passing. Gordon’s track had a variety of hard-pack, soft dirt and sand throughout providing plenty of dirt slinging action.
Speaking of action the SST trucks ran two eight lap heat races and a main event of 18 laps. The Super Buggy class heat ran six laps then 10 during the main event. The Super Trophy Karts ran a main event of 10 laps. The monster truck class ran four elimination runs and two semi-final rounds before the top two faced off in the final round.
Stadium Super Trucks
An eight lap heat race saw Quick Time Qualifier, Justin Loftin, take the win after starting on the third row beside Rob MacCachren. The early leader was Nick Baumgartner but Loftin was able to slip inside after the big double jumps and once out front was able to hold off MacCachren to the checkers. Jeff Ward maintained third throughout the event. The second heat race became a restart event as roll-overs caused five different restarts. On the start Justin Matney took advantage of his front row starting spot to take the early lead. But before he could get comfortable he was spun out and Greg Adler took control of the pack. On the restart Arie Luyendyk Jr. took a nose dive off the finish line jump and flipped down the front straight. On the next restart PJ Jones couldn’t control his mount in turn one and landed on his side causing yet another restart. Once things got straightened out Justin Matney again took control but his lead was short lived as Jones rolled again in the same spot in turn one. The green came out again with Matney out front, Adler second and Robby Gordon third. The action was able to build some momentum but later on Matney rolled over giving his best turtle impression in turn one. Once racing started again Adler was able to fend off Robby Gordon to take the heat win. After all his earlier woes PJ Jones recovered to end up third.
In the Last Chance Qualifier Justin Matney over came his heat race handling problems to win the first transfer spot and the win put him on the pole for the main event. Lola Laguna took second with Arie Luyendyk Jr. third.
In the main event a total of 12 entries lined up with Justin Matney and Lalo Laguna sharing the front row. Once the green came out Laguna came around turn one first but his lead lasted only one lap as he was nose first to the barriers in turn one of the second lap. Besides that two trucks got up on their side causing a restart. On the restart Matney took control of the event but freight training through the pack was Rob MacCachren now second after starting sixth. Going into the second lap MacCachren put the pedal down over the ski jump and landed inside Matney. MacCachren found more traction in the sand section and as the two entered turn one MacCachren exited the turn in the lead. Once out front MacCachren focused on the checkers leaving the competition to battle for second. Matney was maintaining a decent second with Jeff Ward third then Greg Adler. Back in the pack PJ Jones and Laguna tangled and Jones was able to get by. Later on Jones and Robby Gordon got together with Gordon spinning in the final turn and Jones getting hung up on his rear fender. A mid race yellow brought the action back together with MacCachren still out front and now Greg Adler second and Matney third. Racing got back underway until Loftin caught the corner of a trailer container used to build the huge jumps and tearing the right front wheel loose ending his night. With Loftin out it was MacCachren out front and hard to catch. Matney was second and Arie Luyendyk Jr. took over third. With four laps to go the action was slowed again as Adler got up on his side in turn eight. Racing to the checkers still had MacCachren out front with Matney now back in second and Jones third. Jones was able to get around Matney on the last lap but rolled shortly after the pass. When the checkers flew it was Rob MacCachren taking the win with Justin Matney second and after a long hard fought battle Robby Gordon took the final podium spot. Arie Luyendyk Jr. was fourth.
As far as the season championship goes the 2013 Speed Energy Stadium Trucks Champion will be the recipient of the Inaugural Mickey Thompson Championship Trophy. Taking the early lead for that honor is Rob MacCachren with 42 points over Robby Gordon’s 33. Third on the season is Justin Matney with 29.
The show kicked off with the Monster trucks firing up the crowd with their unlimited horsepower deafening the fans. The two-track design within the track had each truck go over each loop so each had to travel the same distance. If you read the March issue on The History of Short Course you will remember this is similar to how short course started with Brian Chuchua’s event in 1965. The first two on track were Bounty Hunter and Odyssey Batteries. After the elimination rounds the final came down to Bounty Hunter and Speed Energy Big Foot with Bounty Hunter taking the win.
The Super Buggy heat had 10 competitors taking course. On the pole was Eddie Tafoya and Rob Martensen. When racing started Martensen nose dived off the first jump collecting Rick Welch and Carlos Apdaly Lopez Gomez in the incident. Once racing got back underway Adrian Cenni pulled away from Tafoya with Larry Foddrill and Robb Harvey challenging. This order stayed the same for several laps With just a couple of laps to go Richard Ronco moved from his last row start spot up to third. Crossing over first was Adrian Cenni with Eddie Tafoya second and Richard Ronco third.
When the main event lined up Adrian Cenni and Eddie Tafoya shared the front row. Once racing Cenni looked to have the early lead but was spun around in turn one and held up most of the pack. Eddie Tafoya benefited from Cenni’s incident to take the lead. Tafoya’s lead became doubtful as he had broke the upper a-arm on his left front wheel and the wheel was flopping around looking like it might fall off any second. Larry Foddrill grabbed second and was able to pressure for the lead. Foddrill did take the lead once but Tafoya was able to come right back leading the pack and keeping the crowd on the edge anticipating the front wheel breaking off any minute. Tafoya’s luck would hold out but Foddrill’s wouldn’t as he got into the hydro barriers costing him several positions. With Foddrill out of the way Robb Harvey was able to close up on Tafoya and make several challenges for the lead. When the checkers flew the left front wheel had held and Tafoya won the event with Harvey second and Rob Martensen third. Finishing off the podium was Adrian Cenni in fourth.
Super Trophy Karts had one main event with 16 competitors. On the start a pile up created a restart. Once underway a lot of shuffling went on before Myles Cheek took control with Brock Heger second. When Travis Pecoy got on his top another restart was called out. When they got going again Cheek again held the lead with Heger second and Cole Mamer third. The front three pulled some distance from the pack and Cheek had a little breathing room himself until he clipped a barrier. Cole Mamer had made the pass on Heger and closed up on the leader. As the front runners began lapping traffic Cheek was able to once again put some real estate between him and Mamer. At the finish it was Myles Cheek taking the checkers with Cole Mamer second and third was Brock Heger. Gavin Harlien was fourth.