Off-Road Gran Prix : Truck Rivalry of Evans, Gordon Shifts to Coliseum
The off-road truck rivalry between Robby Gordon and Walker Evans moves to the Coliseum in tonight’s Mickey Thompson Championship Gran Prix over a bumpy and difficult 662-yard course laid out inside the stadium.
When last seen, on the final lap of the Rose Bowl race, the front end of Gordon’s truck was buried in the side of Evans’ vehicle. They finished that way, Gordon literally shoving the Jeep across the finish line to give the 50-year-old Evans his second straight checkered flag.
For his part in the bizarre incident, Gordon was disqualified. It was the fourth time in six events that the 20-year-old stadium driver from Orange had been either warned or set down by the group’s rough-driving committee. Each time the other driver was Evans.
After winning the Anaheim opener cleanly, Gordon was dropped one position in a heat race in San Diego, but it didn’t prevent him from winning a second straight main event.
Seattle was next, and Gordon finished first but was disqualified--and the win went to Glenn Harris. Gordon won his third main event with a clean ride in New Orleans but got into more trouble in Houston, where he banged into Evans’ truck during a heat race and found himself placed last for the main event. He finished third behind Evans and Roger Mears.
Then came the Rose Bowl. Gordon still leads in Grand National truck points, but the series of setbacks has enabled Evans to narrow the margin. Gordon has 305 points to Evans’ 267, with Ivan Stewart, Gordon’s teammate, close behind with 261. Three events remain after tonight.
This will be the first stadium event since the Rose Bowl race, which was May 6, so the drivers have had plenty of time to develop new strategies. Gordon received a major confidence boost in the desert, however, when he won the overall championship of the Baja 500 while driving a Ford truck against the favored unlimited buggies.
Danny Thompson, Mickey’s son, predicts tonight’s races will be the fastest ever seen in stadium racing since his late father founded the sport in 1979 at the Coliseum.
“They have taken out a lot of turns that seemed to bog down the trucks in the past and except for the run up the stands through the peristyle arches, the track is almost like a big circle,” Thompson said.
Also on the program will be Super 1600s, stadium versions of the single-seat desert buggies; ultrastocks, all-terrain lookalikes of showroom passenger cars; superlites, also known as Odysseys; 4-wheel ATVs and ultracross 250cc motorcycles.