Robby Gordon Wins LA Coliseum Stadium Super Trucks Race
After a 25-year absence, off-road racing returned to the Coliseum with a dirt-and-asphalt course that circled the Coliseum and traveled in and out of its columns. After the opening round in Arizona and a demonstration race last week at the Long Beach Gran Prix, the series looks to revive the off-road stadium racing that harkens back to the Mickey Thompson series that helped bring the sport to the masses.
After being gone so long from the Coliseum, it was only fitting that it was veterans of the original Mickey Thompson races who were stop the podiums in the pro classes. Jerry Whelchel, the only driver to race in every Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group event, stayed near the front of the pack during the Super Buggy race to take advantage of a mistake by Carlos Lopez Gomez to get out front and take the win.
Coliseum Photo Highlights
Whelchel did get some late pressure and had to hold on at the end. The announcer asked him after the race is he had any concern about keeping his first-place position with lapped traffic in front of him and Tyler Winbury close behind.
“I can look back on the big screen and I saw the white car coming behind and the red car in front of me wasn’t too quick, so I was just trying to guard the inside line, and everything worked out great for me,” he said.
Finishing in second place behind Whelchel was Winbury, while rounding out the podium in third was Phil Bollman.
In the Stadium Super Trucks final, Robby Gordon jumped out to an early lead and stayed there in front of Rob MacCachren and Justin Lofton, respectively. Although MacCachren stayed closed behind Gordon for most of the race, a miscue by Lofton pushed him back a few spots and he was unable to stay near the front.
With a tight track that blended fast asphalt sections, metal jumps on the straightaways and large dirt jumps, the passing areas were very limited. This made it difficult for MacCachren to make a move on Gordon without the help of a crucial mistake – which Gordon did not make. In the end, Gordon held on to earn the win with MacCachren in second. PJ Jones earned the third-place finish after a tough battle for the final podium spot.
Gordon was excited to earn the win and hoped the drivers put on a good show for the LA crowd.
“I got beat the first two of them,” Gordon said of the first two rounds. “I tried really hard to win last week in Long Beach and Justin [Lofton] just beat me. Here I came back and I wanted to win this thing – this is the LA Coliseum, this is the super bowl of off-road back in the Mickey Thompson days. This was Mickey’s dream.
“I went for it. I knew Rob [MacCachren] was going to go for it. There’s a lot on the line here. There’s a lot of money every weekend and there’s a lot of point for the championship.”
The turnout for the event appeared decent, though it’s hard with a stadium that can hold more 100,000 fans. Gordon was happy though, knowing the series is in its first year and will take some time to grow.
“To see this many people in here… I’m going to guess and say we had 30,000 to 35,000,” he said. “You have to remember this place holds up to 120,000, so when you hold 120,000, 35,000 is going to look small. But I think it was good. It was a good first round. I’ve enjoyed LA. Everybody made it as safe as possible and it felt like it was a good event. I definitely want to come back here and do another one at the Coliseum.”
Second-place finisher Rob MacCachren had an extremely long, yet very productive, weekend. He split time between LA and Las Vegas for the SST races and the Lucas Oil Off-Road Series. It was a long weekend but worth the effort, as he earned a victory in the Pro 2 class and a second place in Pro 4 at Lucas Oil, which he then followed up with a second in SST.
“When I woke up this morning I was here,” MacCachren explained of his crazy few days. “Yesterday, Friday, I was in Las Vegas at the Lucas Off-Road Race and I did two practice sessions in my Pro 2 and two practice sessions in my Pro 4, and then Greg Adler and I got on an airplane, flew here for practice and qualifying last night. We got up [this morning], flew to Vegas and did our qualifying for the Lucas race and qualified first in both. We ran the Pro 4 race first and we got second there, and then we ran the Pro 2 race and won that.”
So after a win and a second, he and Adler hopped on a plane and made their way to LA just in time to race SST.
“We got out of Vegas at about 6:30 I think,” he said. “We got on a plane, flew here, got a police escort to the Coliseum, and I think we got here about 10 minutes before I was in that truck and running around the track.”
With an evening of off-road stadium racing that blended monster trucks, off-road race trucks and buggies in some tight and entertaining racing, it’s clear that there’s an audience for this form of racing. Although there were some grumblings that there was more asphalt than dirt at the Coliseum, it’s hard to say the course wasn’t challenging or entertaining. With a massive dirt gap jump, sand pit section with its soft dirt jump, triple jump up the Coliseum steps and the metal jumps on the straightaways, the heart of off-road was still present at the event, even if dusty conditions weren’t. If anything, it might have made for a better show. Gordon said he’s like to have a few more passing sections next time and we agree it would be a good adjustment. But it was a good night of racing and fun – which, ultimately, is the idea.
For more information on the series, visit http://www.stadiumsupertrucks.com/.
Coliseum Photo Highlights