Tooele, Utah – just a little to the southwest of Salt Lake City – may not have the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, but it does have Miller Motorsports Park, host of Rounds 7 and 8 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.
Miller, like Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is a permanent racing facility. Unlike LVMS, however, Miller is building its short course off-road racing track right onto its existing road course. The track won't be permanent, but it will allow for all the existing amenities to be put to good use – including covered grandstands, hospitality suites and the paved paddock.
“There are eight grandstands at MMP, three of which we will have in use for our event,” says Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Competition Director Tony Vanillo. “Primary seating for the short course track will be located adjacent to the track with grassy areas and fence-line viewing that can accommodate an additional 5,000 spectators. We will also be utilizing their beautiful indoor and outdoor VIP and hospitality facilities that can accommodate an additional 1,000 people. Although this is our first event at MMP, the enthusiasm for the event has been outstanding and there is a lot of buzz about the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series coming to the Salt Lake City area for the first time.”
The spectators will have a view of a track that will include some unique features not found at other LOORRS venues, reports Miller Motorsports Park Director of Racing Mitch Wright. One feature that has the potential to be spectacular is a spot where the off-road track will jump the road course. Although the original plan was to include a section of the road course with bare asphalt, it appears that the entire course will now be covered in dirt.
“Everything built for this short course race and the event itself in every sense of the word is a partnership,” says Vanillo. “We are building the track jointly with our expertise and combining resources to complete a very exciting 1.1-mile, purpose-built short course off-road track. The track will feature all of the signature jumps, tabletops and excitement that has become the signature of our short course off-road racing series.”
The course will come quite close to the guardrail and the fans at one point. A pair of 10-foot tabletops on the front straight and two rhythm sections will add to the excitement.
Learning a track new to everyone will be a key to doing well. No one's seen it – construction on the track has just been finished – and certainly no one's had a chance to practice on it. So those who can pick it up quickly will have an edge. Carl Renezeder, who sits fifth in the Pro 2 Unlimited and second in the Pro 4 Unlimited points, feels he can do that.
“I'm excited about running on a new track,” says Renezeder. “I feel like it's an advantage for our team because we're quick to make the right adjustments both in setup and in driving. And it's a bonus that the facility is first class.”
Renezeder is chasing Rick Huseman in the Pro 4 points, trailing by 10. He and Huseman split wins at the last two venues, so coming out of these rounds with a pair of wins heading into the second half of the season would be huge for either driver. Adrian Cenni, Curt LeDuc and Kyle LeDuc make up the rest of the top five.
Rob MacCachren has a solid lead in Pro 2, thanks in large part to double victories in his hometown of Las Vegas. Ricky Johnson, Bryce Menzies and Rodrigo Ampudia are chasing him; Ampudia was hobbled by a leg injury in Las Vegas, so he will hopefully be back up to full speed at Miller.
A scant eight points covers the top three in Pro Lite Unlimited, with Chris Brandt heading Matt Loiodice and Brian Deegan. Adam Wik and Marty Hart are a little farther behind, but by no means out of it. A dominant weekend by any of these drivers could have a big impact on the points.
Doug Fortin has been having a strong season in Pro Buggy Unlimited, but he's still only nine points ahead of Cameron Steele. Another seven points separate Steele from the rest of the top five – Larry Job, Rich Ronco and Bobby PeCoy.
For the times that spectators aren't watching these championship battles develop on track, there is plenty to keep them occupied at Miller. On Saturday, rock-crawling fans can check out CruiserFest, a gathering of Toyota Land Cruiser owners. If spectators want to do a little driving themselves, there's the kart track behind the paddock, complete with rental karts. And for the more passive, there's the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Auto Museum with a world-renowned collection of Carroll Shelby's cars and memorabilia. There's also a children's playground and a basketball court – track founder Larry H. Miller was also owner of the Utah Jazz NBA team.
The Miller Motorsports Park rounds of the LOORRS should be spectacular, and the short course off-road racers should prove they fit right in with the track's other events that include the American Le Mans Series, World Superbike Championship and Grand-American Rolex Sports Car Series.