On the weekend, South Australia’s Greg Gartner jumped from his trademark Ford F150 Trophy Truck to a Stadium Super Truck in a USA vs Australia battle at Valvoline Raceway in Sydney. Gartner piloted the #14 Toyo / Clipsal 500 backed truck into second outright for the night, after three races against an all star cast including US offroad racing stars, Robby Gordon and Sheldon Creed and Aussie V8 Supercar legend Paul Morris.
“I was thrilled to get on to the dirt and get the opportunity to race with some of the world’s best offroad racers and to finish second was fantastic.” Said Greg
Held in conjunction with the Ultimate Sprintcar Championship at Parramatta’s Valvoline Raceway, the man made offroad stadium track was a show stopper. “The track that Robby Gordon and the team has put together was epic. There were two of the ramps we used at the Gold Coast on each side of the speedway track that we launched off at speed, then on the infield we had some serious whoops and huge container cross-over jump that launched us three stories into the air. The huge crowd absolutely loved it.” said Greg
After a tough Stadium Super Trucks debut on tarmac at the Gold Coast 600 V8 Super Car round, the former Finke Desert Race winner quickly sprung to the fore on the clay speedway track. Under ominous skies Gartner drew on his oval track experience to qualify second, then worked his way through the field as the heavens started to open up, to lock down fifth in the greasy conditions of the opening race.
In race two, the cross-over jump was axed due to a lack of traction from the rain and the green flag dropped on a 15 lap race of the speedway track, with jumps on the two straights. Gartner charged early, dialled on the opposite lock and let the mud fly. He moved into second behind Paul Morris, then when he ran wide Gartner made the most of the opportunity. Taking the race lead comfortably took the race 2 win.
“It was great to get the feel of the truck on the dirt and in the 15 lap race two it went at 110% .”
Heading into the final race with the points lead, Gartner started rear of field on the inverse grid in the #14 Toyo / Clipsal 500 Stadium Super Truck. When the green flag dropped he charged through the field, going toe to toe with Robby Gordon and Scotty Steele to be in podium contention by the regroup on the lap 6. On the restart Gartner fell victim to the rough and tumble of Stadium Super Truck racing, getting bumped back through the pack before mounting a final charge to greet the chequered flag in fourth.
The solid performances in all 3 races rewarded the South Australian with second overall for the night, with 18 year old US young gun, Sheldon Creed taking the overall win and ex-V8 Supercar driver, Paul Morris taking third.
“I’ve had a steep learning curve with these trucks over the past fortnight. They are very small, with lots of horsepower. The steering is very direct and with their short wheel base can be rather twitchy. Founder of the series, Robby Gordon congratulated all the Aussie’s on how well they drove with such limited seat time and to get the respect from the world’s best offroad driver was spot on.”
“I can’t thank my sponsors Toyo Tyres Australia and the Official Clipsal 500 Adelaide enough. It was a privilege to get the invitation to come and race and be part of Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck races. I’m keen to pursue this and can’t wait to get back on the tarmac in one of these trucks again and hone the craft.”