Earlier this week, Stirling Moss, former Formula One driver from Britain, announced that he is returning to racing. Moss, 55, will compete in the Yokohama-Playboy showroom stock 6-hour endurance race Saturday at Riverside International Raceway.
Moss, whose Grand Prix racing career ended after a crash 23 years ago at Goodwood, in Britain, will drive a Porsche 944 in the opener of the six-race series. Moss' co-driver will be Innes Ireland, a former Grand Prix rival.
Against them will be a fleet of Chevrolet Corvettes, Datsun turbos and Ford Mustangs, driven by such diverse talents as Bob Lodenberg, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Jeff MacPherson. The attraction for drivers is a $50,000 first prize, offered by Goodyear, at each of the six races if the winning car is on the proper tires.
"That is 20 times more than I have ever competed for," said Moss, who won a U. S. Grand Prix on the same 3.25-mile Riverside track in 1960. Since his accident, Moss has driven in sedan and historic car races that were more exhibitions than racing. The endurance series includes three 6-hour races, one 18-hour race and two 24-hour events.
The race will start at 3 p.m. and will end in darkness at 9. Sunday there will be races for Formula Atlantic, Sports 2000 and Formula Russell cars.
Bubba Shobert, who came within one point of winning the American Motorcyclist Assn.'s national championship last year, will resume his drive toward the 1985 crown Saturday night at Ascot Park in the track's 24th annual 25-lap TT steeplechase.
In one of motorcycle racing's most remarkable finishes, the Lubbock, Tex., rider finished first or second in 11 of the last 12 Camel Pro series main events last year, then missed the championship by three feet when Ted Boody beat him by that margin in the season finale at Springfield, Ill.
Two of those seconds were at Ascot last fall, to Alex Jorgensen in a TT and to Scott Parker in a national half-mile. In last year's spring TT, Shobert was leading when his bike broke, and Doug Chandler went on to win.
Ricky Graham, Shobert's Honda teammate and the rider who beat him for the AMA title, is out for two months with a broken left leg. He was injured while trail riding with former U.S. and world road racing champion Kenny Roberts.
"With my teammate out, my chances of winning the championship are better," Shobert said. "But there's still Randy Goss and Doug Chandler on Freddie Spencer's team, and Scott Parker and Jay Springsteen on the Harleys to worry about."
Shobert got off to a mediocre start in the Astrodome, finishing eighth in a TT and 11th on the short track. That leaves him in 10th place coming to Ascot for the season's first outdoor dirt track race.
The 13th annual Gardena Gold Cup half-mile has attracted a strong field for Friday night, headed by defending champion Chandler and four-time Ascot half-mile winner Goss. Last year, Chandler scored a double, winning both Friday and Saturday night main events.
INDY CARS--Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser will replace Rick Mears as one of the drivers for Roger Penske in the April 14 Long Beach Grand Prix. Mears is recovering from leg injuries suffered last September in a racing accident but is expected to be ready to drive in the Indy 500 May 26.
SPEEDWAY CYCLES--Four Southern California tracks will open regular-season activities in the next week. The Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa will open Friday night, followed by Ventura Tuesday night, the Orange Show Stadium in San Bernardino Wednesday night, and Ascot Park Thursday night. A fifth track, Carlsbad, will open April 14. Lance King, who tied for second in last year's world championships, is not returning to England this year and will ride the entire season in Southern California. Also staying closer to home will be former British League riders Sam Ermolenko, Steve Lucero, Robert Pfetzing and Buddy Robinson.
SUPER MODIFIEDS--Chuck Gurney, leader in the U.S. Auto Club's first super modified series, will head a field of 38 drivers in Saturday night's championship race on Mesa Marin Raceway's paved oval in Bakersfield. Billy Vukovich III, grandson of the two-time Indy 500 winner and son of the 1968 Indy rookie of the year, is entered, along with Jan and Blaine Sneva, brothers of former Indy 500 winner Tom Sneva. Super modifieds are 1,500-pound winged open-wheeled cars that will average about 115 m.p.h. at Mesa Marin.
OFF ROAD--The third round of the combined High Desert Racing Assn.-SCORE International series, the SCORE Great Mojave 250, will be run Saturday in Lucerne Valley. Mario Alesi of Jamul, who finished only 12 seconds behind Walker Evans' big Dodge pickup while driving a Nissan mini-truck in the 220-mile Laughlin Desert Challenge, will be back for another challenge.