When a company brings a high-demand product to a new market, there is often trouble with supply keeping pace with that demand. Ask Apple, or try to buy an iPad or iPhone the day after it launches. Or, if you were at last year's Glen Helen Round of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, you experienced it firsthand.
Demand for the short course off-road racing series was so high in Southern California that people were turned away from the San Bernardino racing facility. A short drive from almost anywhere in Southern California, and with the proliferation of Southland drivers in the series, it was bound to be popular. To solve that problem, the series has doubled the seating and parking capacity for this weekend's Rounds 5 and 6 of the series.
Of course, it might not be enough with NASCAR and off-road racer Robby Gordon (RIGHT) bringing his Pro 2 Unlimited truck out to play, joining Carl Renezeder, Jeremy McGrath, Brian Deegan, Rob Naughton, Robby Woods and Rob MacCachren in the competitive class that has seen three different winners in four races so far.
"Too much business, not enough fun lately," says Gordon, explaining his first foray into short course this year. "But since we weren't in the All-Star Race [the special non-points NASCAR race], and with the television package the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series provides, we figured it was a good opportunity to promote our product, Speed Energy, on our truck.
"Short-course racing is a lot of fun. They're sprint races, so they aren't long, and I don't want to say there's a lot of beating and banging because I don't want to beat up my truck, but there is a lot of tight, wheel-to-wheel racing out there. It's a good show," he continues.
Gordon can be fast, but it's a tough field. Ask points leader Carl Renezeder who, while he has scored a couple of second places this season, is still looking for his first win of 2011.
“You'd think that after 12 years of competing in this sport that it would get easier, at least some aspects of it,” says Renezeder, who has 92 short-course wins. “But it continues to bring new challenges every race, every season.”
At Glen Helen, the challenges on the 0.8-mile course – all of it visible from the grandstands – include some tight turns and a tough rhythm section between Turns 2 and 3 that sent more than one truck tumbling last time.
It's a track that's tough to master. Rick Huseman, undefeated in Pro 4 in 2011, experienced one of his few losses here last year. Carrying a hefty lead in the Pro 4 points over Renezeder, he's going to try to avenge that loss to Kyle LeDuc with a perfect weekend.
Deegan, looking for his first Pro 2 victory, is in a tough battle with Chris Brandt in Pro Lite heading into the doubleheader at Glen Helen. The two have traded wins at both previous tracks, Firebird in Phoenix and Speedworld in Surprise, Ariz., and Brandt leads the points, thanks only to Deegan's rough finish in Round 2.
Super Lite drivers this weekend will have an empty spot on the grid and the rest of the racers will be racing with heavy hearts after rising star and Round 2 winner Jeff “Ox” Kargola was killed in a motorcycle accident in Baja. But race they will, and once the engines fire, Jacob Person – a double winner in Surprise – Patrick Clark and Chad George will be trying to take down points leader RJ Anderson.
Steven Greinke leads the Pro Buggy points, with one win to his credit. Mike Porter, with two victories, trails by a scant two points and Doug Fortin is another five behind in third.
Of course, the points battles are only now beginning to emerge as the season hits its stride. There are plenty of points to be gained or lost for the remainder of the season, and those who have suffered some bad luck better have things together for the little course at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series rolls into town.
Practice starts on Friday. The gates open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, each featuring a full slate of qualifying and racing for two separate rounds of the championship. There will be a pre-race party at Stingers Night Club in San Bernardino on Thursday night, starting at 9 p.m.