The cast is the same, but Mickey Thompson has moved his man-made desert racing course from Pomona to San Bernardino for the third round of the Off Road Championship Gran Prix series Saturday night.
A part-asphalt, part-dirt track has been created at the Orange Show Stadium for a 17-race program that includes Grand National pickup trucks, unlimited single-seaters, Volkswagen super 1600s, funny car-like ultra-stocks, Odysseys and three-wheeled ATVs.
"I think the drivers will find the new course more challenging than the one we had at Pomona because of the asphalt," said Thompson, who pioneered desert-style racing in metropolitan area stadiums on specially prepared courses. "Thirty percent of the course will be on the asphalt oval, where stock cars usually run. One corner will be similar to an asphalt sprint car track. It'll be something to watch some of our desert racers on the pavement."
The race was switched from the L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona, where Thompson has held races for the last several years, because the horse racing track there is being enlarged. The Orange Show Stadium, with seating on either side of the track, seats 10,000 spectators.
After Saturday night's show, the five-race series will move to the Coliseum July 20, then will return to San Bernardino Sept. 14.
To make the dirt portion of the track, 8,000 cubic yards of dirt were hauled in to the stadium infield at about $10,000. Thompson said the new course will have 13 flying jumps and one rough, choppy stretch designed to create the same washboard effect racers face on desert roads.
Veteran Roger Mears and his Nissan pickup will be going for a fifth straight win in the Grand National sports truck class against Toyota teammates Steve Millen and Ivan Stewart. Also in that race will be Glenn Harris in a Mazda, Jeff Huber and Danny Thompson, Mickey's son, in Fords, John Nelson and John Baker in Mitsubishis, and James Thomas in a Dodge. Mears won the last two races last season and has won the first two this year.
A five-way battle in the unlimited single-seater class is the tightest in the series. Al Arciero has 82 points to 80 for Bob Gordon, followed by Marty Tripes, a former motocross champion, and Pancho Weaver with 62 each, and Frank Arciero Jr., with 60. The Arcieros are brothers.
Kenny Roberts, retired three-time world Formula One motorcycle road-racing champion, will return to racing July 14 in the Champion 200 at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey .
Roberts, who won the world title in the 500cc class in 1980, 1981 and 1982, retired last July to concentrate on automobile racing.
Joe Hunt, 66, a long-time supplier of magnetoes for race cars and a veteran Indianapolis 500 and Pikes Peak car owner, died Wednesday morning of cancer at Torrance Memorial Hospital. Services will be Friday night at 7 at Green Hill Memorial Cemetery, 27501 S. Western Ave., San Pedro.
SPRINT CARS--The California Racing Assn. series will return to Ascot Park Saturday night with Dean Thompson as the driver to beat. Thompson, 35, a three-time Kraco-CRA champion who missed the first eight races this season because of an illness, has won three of the last four Ascot main events and is closing in on 100 CRA wins. Thompson won No. 93 last Saturday night in Santa Maria. Brad Noffsinger continues to lead in points with 1,002 to 985 for Eddie Wirth and 956 for Mike Sweeney.
MIDGETS--Harlan Willis and Robbie Flock will go for a double win Sunday night at Ascot when they drive in both the U.S. Auto Club's western regional midget car feature and the National Midget Racing Assn. three-quarter midget race.
SPEEDWAY CYCLES--U.S. champion Kelly Moran, after racing last week in Northern California, will return to the SoCal tour this week, starting Friday night at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Rick Miller, one of five U.S. riders to earn a place in the Inter-Continental Final on July 14, will also ride Friday night before returning to his British League team. Rookie first division rider Bob Ott of Dominguez Hills, who upset the field last week at Orange County, will be after his first win at Ascot's South Bay Stadium tonight.
STOCK CARS--Saugus Speedway champion Ken Sapper will be out to extend his points lead in Saturday night's 40-lap modified main event at the Saugus oval. . . . Claimer stocks will run Friday night at Saugus. . . . Mesa Marin Raceway has had seven winners in nine open comp races this season with Rick Carelli of Denver the points leader. Race No. 10 is Saturday night at the Bakersfield track.
MOTOCROSS--World champion Andre Malherbe of Belgium and defending champion Broc Glover of El Cajon are both entered in the U.S. Grand Prix of Motocross, a 500cc world championship event, Sunday June 30 at Carlsbad Raceway. . . . The CMC weekly series will continue Friday night at Ascot Park. . . . More than 150 policemen are expected to ride Thursday June 27 in a Police Motocross Olympics at Quail Canyon, near Gorman.
MOTOR SPECTACULAR--Truck and tractor pulls, truck mud racing and a demolition derby are part of the Grand National Motor Spectacular scheduled Saturday night in the Coliseum.
ROAD RACING--The Alfa Romeo Owners Club of SoCal will hold a time trial for all cars Sunday at Carlsbad Raceway. . . . The only Formula One race in the U.S., the Detroit Grand Prix, will be run Sunday through the city's downtown streets. It will be shown at 10 a.m. on Channel 2. . . . The Cal Club will resume its California Cooler championship series June 29-30 at Riverside International Raceway.