TG's guide to motorsport: Stadium Super Trucks | Top Gear
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Motorsport

TG's guide to motorsport: Stadium Super Trucks

One of the most spectacular motorsport series you've probably never watched. Watch it

  • What is it?

    Essentially an off-road racing series popular in America and Australia (it’s sanctioned by the USAC - United States Auto Club), that sees identical off-road trucks race in various conditions and venues - including American football stadia and street/race circuits. There are jumps. Many, many jumps. It’s one of the most spectacular forms of motorsport… well, ever. And it includes the phenomenon of trucks that oversteer while dangling a front nearside wheel two feet in the air during hard cornering. It’s a lesson in suspension kinematics, if nothing else.

    Photos: Stadium Super Trucks

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  • How did it start?

    It’s all the idea of former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon. Who also happens to be a particularly adept off-road racer. It started in 2013, and has become a fan favourite, mainly because in the US it often ties in with the IndyCar schedule, and events like the X-Games. The whole shebang is basically modelled on the same variant of stadium racing that Mickey Thompson (yep, the famous tyre) came up with in the late 1970s - desert racing in a more spectator-friendly environment. The Thompson version disappeared in ’96, and Gordon, who won an MT race in 1989 as a 20-year old, essentially revived the concept.

  • How does it work?

    Qualifying over two days, race day on the third. Standing start, 12 laps or 20 minutes (whichever comes first), with caution flags at the halfway point to gather drivers up for closer/more intense finishes. Points are scored for winning, leading the most laps, fastest qualifier, overtaking and most stylish landing. The last point is not true, although it should be. The organisers appear to liberally sprinkle 17ft kicker ramps (just under 3ft high) on race circuits to make things interesting. And boy, do they. Imagine 20 trucks hitting a jump at 70+mph in quick succession. And sometimes together. There are many instances of trucks landing atop one another.

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  • When was the first race?

    April the 6th, 2013, at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

  • Tell me about the trucks?

    Everything you could want, really. Mechanically identical - although re-bodied - Trophy Truck lite, they’re 600bhp, Chevy LS V8-powered monsters. Seeing as though they’re also spaceframes and fibreglass-bodied, they weigh only roughly 1,300kg, so they shift a bit - in theory 140+mph. With a three-speed auto and regulation tyres/brakes, this is very much a driver’s series. Teams can change things like spring rates and setup, but not actual hardware. The awesome thing about them are the cornering attitudes (bizarre) and the landings. They land like cats, with otherworldly damping and travel. Properly brilliant to watch.

  • Who’s the most famous driver?

    Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned Robby Gordon. But there have been a wide range of call-ups, from Travis Pastrana to Dakar’s Toby Price. Basically anyone who has an ounce of petrol in their veins gets fascinated - from IndyCar and NASCAR drivers, to MotoX riders and ChampCar pilots, to adrenaline athletes - though a chap called Sheldon Creed has the most race wins ever, at 36 - with two overall titles in the bag.

  • Name one of its finest hours.

    Any of the races. Any of the spectacular saves and movie-esque jump sequences. If ever YouTube should give a gold medal for outtakes, then SST would win.

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  • And now one of its worst.

    Nothing on-track - though there have been various legal wrangles over safety after a truck’s wheel broke off and hit a spectator bridge in Australia. Legislation was agreed upon, and everything worked out - although the trucks’ tendency to be moving in wildly unpredictable directions when flying/landing mean that they need careful wrangling by the safety safari.

  • Where can I watch it?

    Races are streamed live on the series’ FaceBook and website and pop up on various channels in the US thereafter. YouTube is a good resource.

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  • Can I get involved?

    Yep. Just buy a team. So, not really…

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