The Phoenix area has been home to just about any kind of motorsports one might ask for. With several area racetracks, the Valley of the Sun has hosted major league drag racing, Indy cars, NASCAR and even drag boats. But until the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series came to Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, on the northwest side of the Phoenix metropolitan area, it had not enjoyed short-course off road racing.
After an inaugural visit to the Speedworld track, the series returns to Arizona this week. That makes Copper State native and Unlimited Lite points leader Rob “Fig” Naughton happy.
“The Speedworld track is a great track because, with the layout, there's passing everywhere,” Naughton explains. “If you set the guy up in front of you, you can make a pass just about anywhere. That particular track I helped get going a few years ago as a test track with the hopes that we would catch the eye of a promoter and have a short course event in Arizona. So I'm really stoked that we have two in Phoenix and that I had a hand in helping get the thing going.”
Naughton, who won two races in the series' last visit to Arizona, characterizes the Speedworld Off Road Park track as a medium-speed circuit that will keep the drivers busy.
“I think it's a great track for the fans and racers alike. The dirt's good there, we can get good traction, you can drive high, you can drive low. There's some inside-outside, some outside-insides to change things up. The mogul section at that track took its toll on a whole lot of racers and vehicles last time because it upsets the vehicles enough that there's bound to be a whole lot of carnage. There are nice big jumps down the front straightaway. It's got a little of everything you like as a racer and a spectator,” he says.
Naughton's favorite corner is Turn 5. “It's got a big mound on the inside and a big berm on the outside. I made a lot of passes there, and got passed a couple of times. If a guy sets up outside in the cushion, it leaves 40 or 50 feet of real estate down below that you can take up. But it's not smooth or flat down there – there's a big rise up and over. The strategy is to make those passes stick without the guy coming back under you. You have got to take the line and then block it, and that's what worked for me at the last race.”
Like every track on the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, drivers say the key to winning is to stay out of trouble while turning consistent laps. Of course, being consistent can be tough at a busy track.
One unique aspect of Speedworld is the RV parking next to the track. Fans can bring an RV, set up camp and spend the weekend with a great view of the action from their motorhomes. It's a feature racing fans are used to at big ovals and road course, but is relatively rare at short-course off road venues.
Fans attending the event will have a unique opportunity to mingle with the drivers at the Fan Appreciation party on Friday night at Buffalo Wild Wings. A number of top drivers are expected to attend, and a course for RC off roaders will be set up in the parking lot.
Whether on top of their RV or in the grandstands, fans should have plenty of action to watch with practice on Friday and races on Saturday and Sunday. The track keeps the drivers busy and makes for an entertaining weekend. Adds Naughton: “The Speedworld track has a lot of uniqueness to it and a variety of obstacles that make the track challenging.” Click here
for more information on Speedworld.