When the inaugural season of Stadium Super Truck competition got under way, the focus was to hit major stadiums across the country, showing that the new off-road series could go to many big venues and race on many different tracks. When the second round of action was announced a year ago on the initial tour, it was not exactly the expected venue. The trucks would hit the asphalt instead of the dirt, taking to the Grand Prix of Long Beach, racing on the street course and attacking metal ramps put on the track.
That turned out to be a race that every driver enjoyed being a part of, and the fans ate up. With the trucks leaning through the corners, hiking up tires on occasion, then soaring through the air with each launch over the ramps, it was clear that these trucks were able to go to many different style tracks and still put on a spectacular show.
In 2014, the first return date on the schedule from a year ago was back to sunny California, as the fans at Long Beach were already coming for Indy Car action, but they also still wanted to see these off-road trucks go back on the track and put on yet another show like a year ago. Robby Gordon and the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road made the trip back to Long Beach, bringing a 10-truck field ready to put on a show before the open wheel cars hit the track.
The field included three drivers making their debuts in the series, as EJ Viso, Nick Vanis, and Bradley Morris would try to make a great first impression on the field.
With only one practice session before the race, teams tried to set up the trucks to maintain traction on the sticky track, but with each truck being exactly the same, the individual crews needed to find that extra piece to let them get the grip needed to be one spot better than the next guy. When the field drew for starting spots, Apdaly Lopez would score the pole position, while one of the previous winners from the opening weekend, Gordon himself, would be near the back. The other winner from St. Petersburg, PJ Jones, would start in fourth.
The crowd was ready, the trucks came to the grid, and with the fans ready for the action, the green flag waved on the third round of action.
Lopez got the jump on the start, as track conditions proved to be difficult for everyone. The entire race was marred with some hard wrecks but also saw some intense racing action. The key that was discovered from the previous season and the opening rounds of racing for these drivers when they race on asphalt, overbraking will cause more problems than anything. These trucks have a way of controlling the rear brakes separately from the front, but working the brakes too hard will take away grip just as quickly.
One driver that has been able to figure out how to handle the asphalt tracks is Gordon himself, as he took the opening weekend victory in St. Petersburg as well as a podium finish the next day. Slowly but surely he was working his way up through the field, taking some of the new comers with him to the front along with some very young talent that already proved their worth a year ago.
Gordon worked his way to the front, but not quite to the lead. Viso was holding his own at the front in his debut race, keeping the veteran at bay for the longest time. Running third was two-time winner from a year ago, the breakout sensation of SST, Sheldon Creed. He was ready in case the two leaders would have problems and put his Traxxas Red machine to the lead.
But that did not happen. Gordon kept working the leader, and eventually figured out when to make his move. At that moment, the No. 7 Speed Energy truck was not going to be beaten. Coming to the finish line, while soaring over the metal ramps to the delight of the crowd that witnessed the action, Gordon would get his second win in just three races in the off-road series, extending his points lead on the tour. Creed would fly his way to hold onto third, while keeping his truck fully intact. In the final race at St. Petersburg, a hard impact on the rear of the truck broke off part of the rear tube bumper, while still pulling off a top-five finish.
PJ Jones and Gavin Harlien would finish out the top-five.
The Speed Energy Formula Off-Road now has over a month off, as a tentative race is slated for Indianapolis, IN, on May 23. According to the SST website, the race is to happen the same weekend as the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, however nothing has been noted otherwise.
The next guaranteed race weekend on the schedule happens a week later, with racing both on May 30 and 31 at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit, MI, once again on asphalt.
For all the latest updates on the schedule for the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road tour, visit StadiumSuperTrucks.com.