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SST: World Championship Preview

On December 15–16, Southern California’s Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium will play host to the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks’ inaugural Race & Rock SST World Championship. A two-race round, it will mark the series’ first race in an American stadium since its debut season in 2013. News of the race was first announced in October.

“The 2017 SST World Championship fight has been contested in three unique countries; United States, China and Australia, on nine different race tracks, with four completely different surfaces,” Robby Gordon, who grew up in the region, stated. “It’s only fitting to decide the tight championship fight with a thrilling stadium battle in the birthplace of stadium racing, just like how stadium truck pioneer Mickey Thompson would want to see it.”

“The City of Lake Elsinore is thrilled to have legendary raced Robby Gordon and Stadium Super Trucks back in our valley,” city mayor Bob Magee commented. “Working in partnership with the Lake Elsinore Storm, Diamond Stadium will be transformed into an off road playground as these high horsepower trucks will fly over jumps and bang fenders. This will be good clean dirty fun!”

While it is not the first time SST has raced in a stadium, it will be the first in a baseball diamond. The stadium was constructed in 1994 for the Lake Elsinore Storm, a minor league team that is part of the San Diego Padres’ farm system. Approximately 150,000 square feet of dirt will be used for the track, while a container crossover jump that would launch trucks airborne as high as 35 feet will also be brought in.

Lake Elsinore is the second stadium to host an SST race in 2017. In August, the series competed at Beijing National Stadium as a support event to Monster Jam; points leader Matt Brabham won the race following Davey Hamilton Jr.’s disqualification. It is also the first American stadium date since June 8, 2013, when Rob MacCachren won at the Edward Jones Dome (now known as The Dome at America’s Center) in St. Louis.

The entry list for the World Championship has not been fully revealed, but drivers have been announced at a gradual pace. On December 5, Apdaly Lopez and series regular Arie Luyendyk Jr. confirmed their spots on the grid. Lopez has raced part-time in SST since 2014, winning the X Games SST gold medal that year and ultimately finishing third in the points battle. Luyendyk is a veteran of the series and is currently ninth in points.

A day later, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and former off-road racer Casey Mears joined the field; he had tested a truck in January. Mears’ father and off-road legend Roger will be the grand marshal for the event.

“Really pumped to be racing the @ssupertrucks race at Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium Dec. 15-16,” Mears posted on Instagram. “Going to be a blast! Some of the best times in my carrier were racing in the stadiums in the 90’s! Seeing these trucks reminds me so much of watching my Dad back in the day.”

Four-time race winner Burt Jenner, who announced his retirement in the summer of 2016, plans to make his return to the series at Lake Elsinore.

In addition to SST, the weekend will also feature UTV 1000, UTV 170, and Mod Kart classes as support races.

To add to the festivities, rock bands Warrant and Buckcherry will perform at the event. Gordon described the weekend as being greater than “just a off-road race. The goal is to make it a massive major event on and off track. With the additional of the concerts, gourmet food, and off-road lifestyle expo we are well on our way to doing that.”

Brabham currently leads the SST points battle with 498 points as part of a five-win and 15-podium campaign. Paul Morris, who has won three times and scored nine podium finishes, trails Brabham by 12 points, while two-time champion and four-time 2017 race winner Gordon is in third with a 31-point gap to Brabham.

More information will be added as news continue to be released.

UPDATE (12/7): Adam Andretti, the younger brother of former IndyCar and NASCAR driver John and the nephew of Mario, will join UFD Racing for his SST debut at Lake Elsinore, while Sara Price will make her return to the series during the weekend. Andretti races in the Trans-Am Series, finishing second in the TA2 class championship in 2014 and 2015. During the 2017 season, he ran two NASCAR Pinty’s Series races and finished in the top ten in both. Price, who competes in motocross and has participated in the X Games, became the first female driver in SST history when she ran the Honda Indy Toronto rounds in 2016. She ran nine races that year, recording a best finish of 4th at the Sand Sports Super Show and an 11th-place points finish.

UPDATE (12/9): Two-time series champion Sheldon Creed makes his return to SST racing at Lake Elsinore. He will drive the #1 United Rentals truck.

UPDATE (12/10): Gavin Harlien joins the entry list in the #55 Royal Purple truck. Although winless, he sits fourth in points with nine podium finishes in 2017.

UPDATE (12/11): Jeff Hoffman, who is sixth in the standings with three podiums, has been added to the entry list. Construction of the track has also commenced, according to the SST Facebook page.

UPDATE (12/12): The top two drivers in the points battle, Matt Brabham and Paul Morris, have officially joined the grid. The two have won a combined eight races (five by Brabham, three by Morris).

UPDATE (12/13): Retired AMA Supercross champion Ryan Villopoto will make his SST debut at Lake Elsinore. Villopoto won the 450cc class championships in four consecutive years from 2010 to 2014, but announced his retirement in 2015 following an injury. Following the announcement, Gordon tweeted: “Can it get any more exciting than this? What a stacked field!”

Featured image from Stadium Super Trucks

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