Rounds 5 and 6 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series get underway Friday evening at Wild West Motorsports Park in in Reno/Sparks, Nev., under great expectations. Not only is Wild West one of the most spectacular venues on the circuit, it will be the first time the track with the biggest elevation changes hosts a race under the lights. Although the racing will begin with the Pro 2 category at 7:30 as the sun sets, by the time Pro 4 takes to the track, it will be black in the quarry, with only the lights that the series brings in to light the drivers’ way.
Kyle LeDuc (pictured) is hoping for more success at Reno. Last year he scored two Pro 4 victories at the track. Added to his three wins out of four races in 2014 and that would be a pretty auspicious start to the season. Only Ricky Johnson has taken a victory out of LeDuc’s hands this year, and this will be his first chance at the Wild West track.
Brian Deegan won one of the Pro 2 rounds at Wild West in 2013, and is leading the points so far in 2014, despite having only one mark in the win column and Bryce Menzies having two. The other winner this year has been Rob MacCachren. Robby Woods, however, is coming on strong in 2014 with consistent strong finishes. He may be able to pull off a victory and had a second-place finish at Reno last year.
In Pro Buggy, the Georges and Funco are having quite the resurgence, filling two of the top three positions in points. But defending champ Steven Greinke took both wins at Wild West last year, so he will be tough to beat. In Pro Lite, Sheldon Creed has been the one to beat, having been on the podium in every race, and he had a win at Reno last year.
One key face will be missing from the Pro Lite and Pro Buggy ranks, however.
Bradley Morris out
Bradley Morris had a win in Pro Lite at Wild West in 2013, and sits in second in both the Pro Lite and Pro Buggy points for 2014. However, due to a severe injury suffered in a recent mountain biking accident, Morris will not be racing at Reno.
Morris fractured his neck and has undergone a couple of surgeries already. It’s too early to tell what his status may be for the rest of the season.
“Unique Racing Format”
Tanner Foust (LEFT), who had a go in Super Lite at Surprise a few years ago, returned to the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series for a one-off at Lake Elsinore. While not new to the sport, the drifting and Global RallyCross veteran and Top Gear USA host hadn’t experienced the wild ride that is a Pro 2. Racing one of Rob MacCachren’s spares gave him a whole new perspective.
“Nothing has given me such a headache and sore back,” he said. “And I’m no stranger to big jumps; I’ve got the world record for the longest jump. But doing it over and over in a racing format, door to door, is epic. There’s nothing to compare to it. You are literally hanging in the air alongside this other truck that’s spewing fire in slow motion next to you for what seems like five seconds, but it’s only a few moments then you’re back at it again. It’s a very unique racing format worldwide and it’s really awesome to give it a shot.”
While the horsepower of the Pro 2 is tremendous, that wasn’t what really made an impression on Foust … instead, it was the air time.
“You don’t feel the horsepower so much because it’s not so grippy. It sounds delicious when you’re driving it, I will say,” he smiles. “It’s more the jumps – it’s the third dimension that you don’t race in usually as dramatically as you do in this series. It’s the right throttle position off the lip of the jump and getting it to fly right and knowing which way the wind is blowing. You know it’s a race series where you spend a lot of time in the air when you’re taking wind calibrations before you start.”
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series standings after Round 4:
Kyle LeDuc 192
Ricky Johnson 180
Greg Adler 180
Brian Deegan 199
Carl Renezeder 184
Robby Woods 162
Sheldon Creed 191
Bradley Morris 188
Brian Deegan 177
Chad George 196
Bradley Morris 186
Garrett George 175