Sunday, March 31, 2013
ROBBY GORDON's LATEST ADVENTURE
Robby Gordon's new Stadium Super Truck series debuts this Saturday night (April 6) at University of Phoenix Stadium. I'll be there covering for the Arizona Republic but since the race will run past the deadline for the print edition please go to AzCentral.com to read my race story.
I've talked to Robby a few times in recent weeks and will have a story in the Republic this Friday to preview the event. I won't write here what will be in that story but the business model Gordon has created for this series (sanctioned by USAC) is of interest.
Let's just say Robby's not too enchanted by the current NASCAR business model, so after a few years of running his own team, he's parked his Cup car. His Charlotte (there's a test track there available to any series driver) shop builds and maintains all of the Traxxas Slash-esque trucks and entrants pay a franchise fee (first 30 are locked-in but 16 are expected at Phoenix) for what is essentially a turn-key operation. Individual teams can then sell their own sponsorship deals. Arie Luyendyk Jr. is partially funding his effort via fan contributions at www.ArieTruck.com . Jegs.com is backing Ricky Johnson. Jeff Ward and Justin Lofton are confirmed and JJ Yeley told me during the Phoenix NASCAR weekend that he's in, too.
There's no auto manufacturer participation right now. That's not to say there won't be in the future. I'll explain that more in Friday's story but Robby did emphasize to me he wants a series where drivers competing elsewhere can come without a commercial conflict.
There's $60,000 in prize money at each of the 12 events with $500,000 to the series champion. Gordon has a deal with NBC and NBC Sports Network for delayed coverage. Other venues include Long Beach, the Los Angeles Coliseum and NFL stadiums Soldier Field, Georgia Dome, Metro Dome and Cowboys Stadium, among others.
The series, of course, is modeled largely on the popular one Mickey Thompson operated in the 1980s. Gordon (and Jimmie Johnson) ran there. Gordon's group essentially runs the whole show, including setting-up and cleaning-up the track.
Given his own off-road history and "my way" attitude (I did the PR for Robby's Meijer-sponsored team at the 2004 Indy 500 when he was doing the Double with Richard Childress), I'm not surprised Gordon has taken this on. He's explained to me why he thinks the time is right and why there's a place for yet another racing series. We'll all get a first chance to evaluate it all this Saturday night.
Since there's no live TV of Gordon's Stadium Truck race I'll plan to do a little Tweeting of news/results from University of Phoenix Stadium. I'll also Tweet the links to my Friday advance and Saturday night race stories. @SpinDoctor500
[ more next Monday . . . ]