If anyone can stop Rick Huseman in Pro 4 Unlimited or Rob MacCachren in pro 2, that would be a surprise. If anyone comes out of Arizona with a commanding lead in Pro Lite, that would be a surprise. If Speedworld Off Road Park in – you guessed it – Surprise, Ariz., fails to deliver some great short course off road racing this weekend, that would be…well, the point's been made.
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series returns to Speedworld for its second visit of 2010, for Rounds 11 and 12. After the wide-open spaces of Miller Motorsports Park and the tight confines of Glen Helen, the familiar ground of Surprise should provide a welcome respite to the racers. Although a slightly altered track – a deeper bowl and bigger jump after Turn 5 and less-harsh moguls – greeted racers when the series visited in April, the high speeds of the big sweeper should make them feel right at home.
A new face will be gracing the series, that of seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath, recently inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Although he has raced in the series before, he returns now as a permanent fixture, running Pro 4 at Surprise and Pro 2 at the next Las Vegas rounds and at Firebird Raceway in December for Scott Bailey's Stronghold Motorsports. It's all in preparation for a full-season assault in 2011.
“They have all the components that can add up to a winning season: technical expertise, great backing from solid sponsors, and an attitude that makes winning part of the plan every time they go on the track,” says McGrath of his new team. “I'm as enthusiastic about this team effort as I ever have been about any that I've been a part of. This is family and top-notch professionalism all in one great package.” McGrath joins Rob Naughton (Pro 2), Marty Hart (Pro Lite), Chuck Cheek and Brandon Bailey (Pro Buggy Unlimited) on the team.
Although McGrath won't be chasing the championship this year, he's going to find himself in the thick of some title battles. In Pro 4, Rick Huseman (LEFT) is leading the charge, and rather strongly given his seven wins in 10 races – including both races last time at Speedworld. Still, it's not in the bag yet – Carl Renezeder runs second, 79 points behind. Kyle LeDuc and Adrian Cenni are right on Renezeder's heels. While it's unlikely any of them will catch Huseman without some serious bad luck striking the Monster Toyota team, there's still a chance; 260 points are still available.
MacCachren hasn't dominated Pro 2 quite the way Huseman has in Pro 4, but he still has a pretty formidable lead in the points, 471 to 418 over Bryce Menzies. MacCachren has benefited from consistent top finishes rather than a dominating number of wins, but the result is the same, especially as his competitors have all had their share of troubles throughout the season. Rodrigo Ampudia, Carl Renezeder and Ricky Johnson all trail Menzies. MacCachren and Renezeder split the Pro 2 wins in the series' last visit to Surprise.
The real tooth-and-nail fight for a title is happening in Pro Lite, where Marty Hart and Chris Brandt are separated by only two points, 444 to 442. Matt Loiodice sits 24 points behind Brandt and Brian Deegan, who took one of the Surprise wins in April while Brandt took the other, is another three points back. Deegan is the only driver besides Hart and Brandt to win in Pro Lite in 2010.
Pro Buggy Unlimited is another tight points battle, with Larry Job holding a five-point lead over Doug Fortin. Last time in Arizona, Chuck Cheek and Mike Dondel split the wins. Chad George won both April races in Super Lite, and the defending UTV champ has a 10-point lead in Super Lite. Colton Greaves and Jacob Person are tied for second, and Mulishaman Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg is three points behind Person and Greaves.
Fans will be able to get up close and personal with many of these drivers at the Fan Appreciation Party on Friday night at Buffalo Wild Wings on Bell Road in Surprise. This has become a tradition at Surprise rounds of LOORRS. Drivers will be signing autographs and there may be some RC cars to enjoy as well.
Fans with motorcycles may want to join some of the drivers with two-wheel history at the Thursday night “Ride with the Stars” on the Speedworld motocross track. Naughton, McGrath, Johnson, Jeff Ward, Deegan and Stenberg are all scheduled to appear.
The Speedworld gates open at 10 a.m. on Friday, and tickets for the practice day start at $10. For those looking for a little more luxurious experience, the Paddock Club offers a VIP Hospitality are including lunch, snacks and beverages. Tickets are $75 per day or $120 for a weekend pass, and get the purchaser exclusive access to the shaded grandstand area, VIP parking, lunch, four beers and complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
For those who can't make it in person, the Speedworld races begin airing on Oct. 16 on SPEED.