The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series makes its second annual stop at Miller Motorsports Park near Tooele, Utah, this weekend for the GEICO Insurance Off-Road Nationals presented by Sunoco Fuels, but the racers will find a completely new venue.
Gone is the track built around and the East side of the road course. The massive racing facility outside Salt Lake City now has a dedicated short course off-road track.
“The new track at Miller is going to be another symmetrical track, similar to Vegas, but shorter,” says series director Tony Vanillo. “The viewing is much better. We've really been paying attention to the spectator viewing. It's got some really neat features to it. It's going to have a long front straightaway with one big tabletop in the front. The backstretch has got one big, big tabletop, probably the biggest one we've ever built. The grandstands are lengthy, they start up a little higher and they actually have shade on them. It's going to be a really neat track and it's a whole standalone facility for off road. They're trying to make it the premier off-road track on the circuit.”
The new track is an example of the commitment Miller is willing to make to the series after the introduction of short course off-road racing to Utah last year.
“We have developed a great relationship with Lucas Oil,” says John Larson, general manager of Miller Motorsports Park, “and their race last year was so well received and generated such positive feedback that we decided to make the commitment to build them a permanent home at Miller Motorsports Park that can also be used for our other off-road events and activities.”
The course is just under a mile long, with large banked turns and possibly the fastest straights in the series. In addition to the huge backstretch tabletop, there's a six-pack rhythm section. Covered grandstands will provide guests with shade and a view of the entire course and VIP packages are available.
“The fans were amazing in Utah last year,” says Carl Renezeder, driver of the No. 17 Lucas Oil/General Tire Pro 2 and Pro 4 Unlimiteds and the Pro 2 points leader after double wins in Glen Helen. “It was the first time we'd been to that part of the country; they were so excited to have us there. Now that we have a dedicated track, the fans will be able to watch from a much closer proximity and get an even better perspective of what we do.”
In addition to leading the Pro 2 points by 19 over Brian Deegan, with Rob MacCachren another 17 points back, Renezeder is second in the Pro 4 points heading into Rounds 7 and 8 at Miller. Rick Huseman leads Pro 4 with 302 points to Renezeder's 285.
Iowan Chris Brandt leads the Pro Lite points as the series heads to the closest thing to a home track he's got. Deegan is second in this class as well as Pro 2, 15 points behind and 38 points ahead of Rodrigo Ampudia.
Ampudia won his first Pro 2 race at Miller last year, but with an all-new track, what happened last year doesn't mean much.
Two full days of racing begin at 12:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, with the gates open to the public at 10 a.m. Practice and qualifying will take place on Friday. In addition to the off-road racing action, fans can check out Cruiserfest, a gathering of Toyota FJ enthusiasts taking place this weekend as well on the adjacent rock crawling course. There are also the kart track and a new zip-line to keep fans busy.
For more information, see www.lucasoiloffroad.com.