Off-Road Gran Prix : Evans Gets the Win; Gordon Gets Disqualified

Times Staff Writer

Walker Evans, the elder statesman of off-road racing at age 50, and Robby Gordon, the sport’s latest phenom at 20, put on a finish Saturday night in the Rose Bowl the likes of which stadium racing had never before seen.

Evans, who led from the start as the fast qualifier in his Jeep, was challenged late in the 12-lap race by the charging Gordon, winner of three of the previous five Grand National Sports Truck races in the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Gran Prix series.

On the final trip around the short course that zig-zagged back and forth across the Rose Bowl football field, Gordon drove his Toyota into the side of Evans’ Jeep and the two crippled vehicles crossed the finish line stuck together.


The finish brought the crowd--announced as 43,294--to its feet, but they filed out not knowing that Gordon had been disqualified and placed last for rough driving.

“It was well-deserved,” Evans said of the disqualification. “Actually, if he’d backed off just before the finish, I’d probably have rolled over. It was his bumper that kept me up.”

It was the fourth time in recent weeks that Gordon had been censured by the rough driving committee, and each time the incident involved Evans. Gordon finished first at Seattle, but was dropped to third, and was forced to start last in the main event at Houston for misconduct in a heat race.

Gordon’s disqualification moved his Toyota teammate, Ivan Stewart, into second place with Danny Thompson, whose late father Mickey founded stadium racing, getting third in his Chevy truck.

Evans gave an indication of the power in his Jeep when he set fast time in the afternoon qualifying session and then came from last place to win the first 8-lap heat. He had some help from Thompson, whose Chevy rolled over on its side while running second.

Thompson made no mistakes in the second heat, winning wire-to-wire despite sustained pressure from Roger Mears’ Nissan and Stewart.


Al Arciero of Anaheim maintained the family dominance in the super 1600 buggy final, fending off Mitch Mustard of Arvata, Colo., for 12 laps. Arciero took over the lead when pole-sitter Bob Gordon of Orange stalled on the first lap.

Teammates Lloyd Castle of Bellflower and Vince Tjelmeland of Yorba Linda finished 1-2 in the ultrastock final, boosting Tjelmeland’s series lead over defending champion Jeff Elrod, of Campbell, Calif., who finished fourth.

Marty Hart of El Cajon became the season’s first repeat winner in the four- wheel ATV class, and Terry Peterson of Huntington Beach followed suit in the superlite final. Hart previously won at Seattle and Peterson at Anaheim.