Roger Mears, winner of the mini-pickup truck class in Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix last year, is hoping that a new truck will change his racing fortunes at 7:30 tonight when the series resumes at the Coliseum.
Mears, 39, has won more off-road races in his career than anyone else. But this season, the Bakersfield driver has failed to win any of the six stadium races.
Mears will drive a Nissan "Hardbody, a V-6 powered truck that is 100 pounds lighter than the truck Mears drove to the title last year.
"I'm hoping the new truck will change my luck," he said. "I'm excited to get it out on a race track and see what it can do.
"The technology in this new truck reminds me of an Indy car or a Grand National stock car. The thought behind the construction is very revolutionary."
Toyota has won the Manufacturers Cup the last three seasons with Ivan Stewart of Lakeside and Steve Millen of Irvine on the team. This year, Millen has won four of the six races in the class.
Toyota and Nissan have dominated the class, but Glenn Harris managed to drive his Mazda to victory at the Rose Bowl in the last race.
With two races left in the series, Millen leads the standings with 180 points, and Harris is a surprising second with 141.
Six separate classes of racing will be included in the 20-event program. Drivers will also compete in the Volkswagen 1600s, three- and four-wheel-drive ATVs, Odysseys and UltraStock classes.
A companion feature will be a 250cc motocross in which riders will reverse direction on the main course.
Shaun Kalos, a 15-year-old from Litchfield Park, Ariz., will be among the riders. Kalos has been banned from American Motorcyclist Assn.-sanctioned events since the AMA requires riders to be at least 16. But Thompson saw the teen-ager ride in Hawaii and immediately signed him.
"I predict Shaun will be a world champion in the very near future," Thompson said.
Gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and there will be an autograph session with drivers at 6 near the east end of the Coliseum.