June 27th & 28th, 2009
Lake Elsinore, CA
Under clear skies and 103º of “dry” heat, Rounds 5 & 6 of the Lucas Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) were held on a brand spanking new track along the south shore of Lake Elsinore. It was almost as if they were racing in the lake bed, with the microfine silt underfoot. The Lucas Track Crew had the course watered and compacted to perfection. When this venue was first announced, many of the Internet “mouse racers” commented that it would never work.
Lucas laid out a nice mile of race course; a dragstrip longer than the three quarter mile TORC course at Perris a month ago. Turn One was a 180 degree, slightly banked hairpin to the infield, crossing over a tabletop jump to a tight hairpin in Turn Two. A few more jumps led to a higher banked sweeper in Turn Three, then came the fast, “wide open throttle” twin jump back straight. There was a heck of an off-camber kicker leading into Turn Four, which “educated” many racers. Some landed outside of the left sweeper, some nosed in and one or two ended up on their lids on Practice Day. Turn Five was a much smaller U-turn, almost a vee shaped chicane requiring a brake check as they headed into Turn Six and the front straightaway. A couple of rollers in front of the grandstands had the spectators quite focused, especially on the nasty kicker going back into Turn One.
That little hump really caused a ruckus, ending Rodrigo Ampudia’s Unlimited 2 race on Saturday with a World class triple endo on his White Flag Lap. The same annoying “topé” also abbreviated Jerry Whelchel’s U-2 Race on Sunday when he “augered in”, just after completing his 11th lap. Both drivers escaped uninjured, although the looks of the hardware would lead one to believe otherwise.
Whelchel didn’t run in the combined Unlimited 2/4 final event on Saturday. I overheard in the Press Box that the Team made this decision to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the truck and drivetrain. An overall win is difficult against the faster Unlimited 4 trucks and Jerry already had a comfortable lead in points. It’s likely that he still does, despite his U-2 Race on Sunday being cut short by a few laps.
Maybe some time this season we’ll see enough U-4 entries to facilitate a challenging race of their own. It’s a real show, watching them claw their way through the turns, breaking the Eleventh Commandment; “Always turn into the direction of the skid.” Hopefully, this unique and highly competitive class will survive.
The fastest laps in the Unlimited 4 class went to Renezeder both days. In Unlimited 2, Carl had the fast lap on Saturday and #99; Robby Woods claimed the fastest on Sunday. As one of the earlier referenced victims of Turn Four during practice on Friday, Woods was able to pull it together and run an extremely impressive race on Sunday.
“We started in sixth position, immediately moved up to fifth and by Lap Three, we were in second…a position which we held for seven of twelve completed laps. Friday’s roll created some gremlins such as oil pump cavitation and oil-soaked wiring, which ended our race early.” Woods, the owner, builder and driver went on to say, “Our team is made up of five volunteers with limited experience, racing a home-built truck which was backed off of the trailer for only it’s seventh time this weekend. Thanks to the help of Billy Schlieper of Pro Power Engines, we have been able to run competitively in this Series. Billy’s our engine builder but has also spent countless hours working with us on the drivetrain, suspension and setup of the truck.”
Also worthy of mention is another rising star, 16 year old Joey “Jojo” Granatelli. In a phone interview with his father, Joe Granatelli, we spoke of Joey’s Super Lite podium finish on Sunday.
“Joey just returned from Virginia where on June 17th, he won his first Bertil Roos Series Race (open wheel mini Indy cars) on his first time out. Obviously, he is really excited about his first podium finish in the Super Lite Series. After three years in Karts, he got his license and made the move to Super Lite this year. We plan to follow the natural progression of the Series and move up to Unlimited Lite next year, then on to Unlimited 2.”
The proud father went on to voice his (prompted) opinion of having two promoters and two short course series’; “You know, I was there for the Indy Car / IRL debacle and from a purist’s standpoint, I don’t like it. It would be nice to see the ‘best of the best’ racing against each other but if they must remain divided, they should schedule their respective races so the teams wouldn’t have to be in Appleton, Wisconsin one weekend and Perris, California or Phoenix, Arizona on the next. My own kid turns on the TV on Saturday to watch short course racing and he doesn’t know what race he’s watching or who to root for. At least Indy has a great following. Short course needs more momentum and I don’t think it’s going to happen with such a small fan base”, the elder Granatelli said.
That being said, LOORRS reports attendance of 7500 for the Saturday event, 5900 on Sunday. Although I am unsure of the facility’s exact capacity, there were 7000 bleacher seats with additional seating in the VIP areas and “Cool Zones”, which are large tents at track level housing few hundred seats each.
There’s a very strong possibility that the next LOORRS Race, (July 25th and 26th at Lake Elsinore), will be a night race so if you plan to attend, adjust your schedule accordingly.
Here’s a quick rundown on the results:
Unlimited 2 Saturday: Renezeder, Adler, Whelchel
Unlimited 2 Sunday: Ward, Adler, Dondel
Unlimited 4 Saturday: Renezeder, Coyne, Herbst
Unlimited 4 Sunday: Renezeder, Herbst, Pflueger
Unlimited Lite Saturday: Deegan, Ampudia, Naughton
Unlimited Lite Sunday: Naughton, Cuffaro, Brandt
Super Lite Saturday: Leising, Harrah, Bailey
Super Lite Sunday: Harrah, Granatelli, Leising
Unlimited Buggy Saturday: Job, Pointon, Halliday
Unlimited Buggy Sunday: Job, Dondel, Halliday
Limited Buggy Saturday: Geiser, Pangborn, Fraley
Limited Buggy Sunday: Geiser, Fraley, Menzies
Detailed results are at the LOORRS Website