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Motor Racing : Off-Road Racers Clash at Pomona

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Mickey Thompson, the racing innovator from Bradbury who took Baja desert racing and made it a stadium spectator sport, has two new ideas to test Saturday night. That’s when the 1985 racing season will open with the first of four Off-Road Gran Prix events at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona.

First, Thompson will match four-wheel all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) against three-wheelers for the first time. Second will be the experimental debut of a new class called Ultra Stock/GP, in which funny car-type stock bodies will be mated with unlimited single-seater chassis and engine.

Only four Ultra Stock entries are expected Saturday night because of the early season opener, but Thompson expects a full field by the next race, March 16.

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The ATV battle is expected to be between the four-wheel Suzuki Quads and the three-wheel Kawasakis and Hondas that have dominated their class the last two seasons.

“I think the four-wheelers will be more stable in the tight turns at Pomona,” Thompson said. “They are less likely to hike a rear wheel because of the weight shift in the turns and should have better all-around traction. It’s a big issue among ATV enthusiasts, and I think combining both classes for this year’s series will provide some interesting answers.”

The man to beat is expected to be Team Kawasaki rider Jimmy White of Yorba Linda, the defending ATV champion who won at both Pomona and in the Hoosier Dome at Indianapolis.

The big attraction, however, will continue to be the Grand National sports truck class, matching Roger Mears’ Nissan mini-pickup against the Toyotas of series champion Ivan Stewart and Rod Millen, plus the Mazda of open-wheel champion Glenn Harris.

“It’s a whole new ballgame this year,” said Mears, who scored the division’s first clean sweep--setting fastest qualifying time, winning the trophy dash, a heat and the main event--in the final Pomona event of 1984, only to see Stewart win the season championship with a second-place finish.

“I know Toyota is going to be tough again, but I honestly believe our truck is the one to beat this year,” Mears said. “I know it’s much quicker than last year’s model.”

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Mears’ truck is prepared by Electromotive Engineering in El Segundo, which also prepares championship IMSA GT cars for Don Devendorf

The tentative West Coast racing schedule:

OFF-ROAD RACING Jan. 19--Mickey Thompson closed course series, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

Feb. 3--Parker 400, SCORE, Parker, Ariz.

March 3--Laughlin Desert Challenge, High Desert Racing Assn., Laughlin, Nev.

March 16--Thompson closed course series, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

March 31--Great Mojave 250, SCORE, Lucerne Valley.

May 4-5--Mint 400, Las Vegas.

June 1--The Amerathon, start of 39,000-mile rally, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim.

June 8-9--Baja Internacional, SCORE, Ensenada, Mexico.

June 22--Thompson closed course series, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

July 7--Fireworks 250, HDRA, Barstow.

July 20--Thompson closed course series, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

Aug. 17-18--World closed course championships, SCORE, Riverside International Raceway.

Sept. 8--Frontier 500, HDRA, Las Vegas.

Sept. 14--Thompson closed course series, Coliseum.

Nov. 9-10--Baja 1000, SCORE, Ensenada, Mexico.

Dec. 15--Frontier 250, HDRA, Las Vegas.

INDY CARS March 31--Dana 150, CART oval race, Phoenix International Raceway.

April 14--Toyota Grand Prix, CART road race, Long Beach.

Oct. 6--Laguna Seca 300, CART road race, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey.

DRAG RACING Feb. 1-3--Winternationals, National Hot Rod Assn., L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

May 3-5--Bakersfield March Meet, NHRA Division 6 series, Famoso Drag Strip, Bakersfield.

Oct. 4-6--Fallnationals, NHRA, Firebird Raceway, Phoenix.

Oct. 18-20--Winston World Finals, NHRA, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Pomona.

SPORTS CARS March 31--Trans-Am, Sports Car Club of America, Riverside International Raceway.

April 26-28--Los Angeles Times-Nissan 600 kilometers, International Motor Sports Assn., Riverside International Raceway.

May 5--Nissan Triple Crown 300 kilometers, IMSA, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey.

Aug. 11--Firehawk street stock endurance, IMSA, Riverside International Raceway.

Aug. 18--Ford California Camel GT 300 kilometers, IMSA, Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma.

Oct. 6--Can-Am, SCCA, Riverside International Raceway.

SPRINT CARS & MIDGETS March 2-3--California Racing Assn. sprint car doubleheader, Imperial County Fairgrounds, El Centro.

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March 16--Opening night, Kraco-CRA sprint cars, Ascot Park.

July 3--Firecracker 50, CRA sprint cars, Ascot Park.

Oct. 16-19--Western World, sprint cars, Manzanita Speedway, Phoenix.

Oct. 24-26--Pacific Coast Nationals, sprint cars, Ascot Park.

Nov. 16--Don Peabody Classic, CRA sprint cars, Ascot Park.

Nov. 28--Turkey Night Grand Prix, U.S. Auto Club midgets, Ascot Park.

STOCK CARS March 23--Spring Open Competition, Saugus Speedway.

April 6--Season points opener, Saugus Speedway.

June 2--Budweiser 400, NASCAR road race, Riverside International Raceway.

Nov. 17--Winston Western 500, NASCAR road race, Riverside International Raceway.

MOTOCROSS Jan. 26--Supercross, San Diego Stadium.

Feb. 2--Supercross, Anaheim Stadium.

Feb. 10--Skoal Golden State series, Continental Motosports Club, Carlsbad Raceway, Carlsbad.

March 31--Hangtown Classic, AMA national, Prairie City Park, Sacramento.

May 18--Supercross, Rose Bowl, Pasadena.

June 12--Outdoor AMA national, Los Angeles area site to be announced.

June 30--U.S. Grand Prix, world 500cc championship, Carlsbad Raceway, Carlsbad.

TBA (November date dependent on Raider football schedule)--Supercross, Coliseum.

MOTORCYCLES (Camel Pro series) March 30--National TT steeplechase, Ascot Park.

April 13--National Mile, Cal-Expo State Fairgrounds, Sacramento.

May 4-5--National short track, Santa Clara Fairgrounds, San Jose.

May 11--National half-mile, Ascot Park.

May 19--Road race, Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma.

July 14--Road race, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey.

Sept. 15--National Mile, Santa Clara Fairgrounds, San Jose.

Sept. 21--National half-mile, Ascot Park.

Sept. 29--National Mile, Cal-Expo State Fairgrounds, Sacramento.

Notes DRAG RACING--Former world champion Shirley Muldowney will have surgery Tuesday in Indianapolis. Dr. Terry Trammell, who has operated on such Indianapolis 500 drivers as Rick Mears, Danny Ongais and Johnny Rutherford, will graft a piece of bone taken from Muldowney’s right hip to her right ankle, which was badly damaged in an accident last year in Canada.

NEWSWORTHY--California Racing Assn. champion Bubby Jones will be honored Saturday night at the annual Kraco-CRA awards dinner at the Anaheim Marriott. . . . Danny Oakes, former Gilmore Stadium midget racing favorite, will be toasted Friday, Jan. 25, by the Auto Racing Assn. at a luncheon at Taix restaurant.

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