Robby Gordon Returns to Crandon with Kings

Crandon – Sunday - Robby Gordon

Making an appearance for the first time in 20 years, Robby Gordon returned to Crandon International Raceway over Labor Day weekend in hopes of repeating his previous memorable performance at this legendary venue.  Celebrating four decades of historic racing, Crandon had numerous events and celebrations planned for their momentous 40 Year Anniversary.  Robby Gordon’s return after a two decade hiatus was one of the most publicized and eagerly awaited happenings of the weekend and everyone was anxious to see the outcome of the Pro 2WD competition.

Recent Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee and Crandon native, Jack Flannery, reflected on Gordon’s first appearance at the raceway by commenting, “Walker Evans and Robby Gordon both came out to Crandon in 1989 to run for World Championships and be on ESPN. Robby had a fearless, aggressive driving style that he still has today. He just dominated the weekend, took all our Wisconsin purse money and went back to California. Robby is still the youngest racer to ever win a World Championship title at Crandon. He was fast back in 1989 and he will be fast this year. What a treat for TORC and Crandon off-road race fans. I can’t wait to watch him in action.”

Just a few days prior to the BorgWarner World Championship races at Crandon, Robby Gordon suffered a violent crash while testing his H3 Hummer in the Arizona desert.  The high-speed crash ended with Gordon being sent to the hospital and calling into question whether he would even be able to participate in the scheduled Labor Day races at Crandon Raceway.  After a thorough examination, the doctors released him stating that he was fortunate to walk away with just a few bruises and a black eye.  Too banged up to compete during Saturday’s event, Robby held off racing his Pro 2WD until Sunday and instead opted to mingle with the fans in the pits and around the bonfires in the campgrounds Saturday evening.

Showing up with his Polaris-branded Pro 2WD built by Johnny Kaiser and coined the “Alpha Truck,” Robby Gordon’s race truck is nothing less than a work of art.  Featuring Pure Race Series King Shocks, this unique race truck was prepped and ready to take on the punishing and fast-moving 1.75 mile track with numerous sweeping turns and elevation changes.  Whether Gordon would be fully recovered and ready to race on Sunday was anyone’s guess.

Despite being hurt, Gordon showed that nothing could deter him as he rallied forward and made his way to the starting line during Sunday’s Pro 2WD competition. Feeling well enough to compete in TORC’s Round 12 action, Robby Gordon piloted his King Shock-equipped No. 007 Chevrolet Pro 2WD against formidable competitors such as Scott Taylor and Todd LeDuc.

Making his season debut in The Off-Road Championship (TORC) Series and his first appearance at Crandon Raceway since 1989, this event was by far the most anticipated competition of the weekend.  As the field of 20 competitors charged full steam ahead during the land rush start, it was Scott Taylor in the No. 8 King Shock-equipped Pro 2WD who would claim the “hole shot” and the early lead.  By the second lap, Robby Gordon in the No. 007 worked his way from third to second and ran hard to catch the seemingly invincible Scott Taylor. Dominating the field and setting a new track record for the Pro 2WD class with a lap time of 1 minute, 23 seconds and 84/100ths, Taylor’s King Shocks-equipped Ford continued to lead while Robby Gordon remained in second place throughout much of the race.  When the green flag dropped after the mandatory caution, Taylor once again found the lead and Gordon fell back to fourth place during the 7th lap when he started to suffer from engine problems.

Hanging onto his lead for the remainder of the race, Taylor took the checkered flag but the real dramatic race action actually took place during the final lap and just a few hundred feet from the finish line.  Robby Gordon, Todd LeDuc, and Evan Evans were neck-and-neck battling it out for the fourth place finish when Gordon gets bumped by LeDuc causing his truck to spin backwards on the track.  Todd slips by the No. 007 truck to claim fourth while Evan Evans sneaks by for the fifth place finish.  Gordon, still facing the wrong way on the track, throws his truck in the reverse gear and crosses the finish line backwards for an exciting sixth place finish! While Robby Gordon’s return wasn’t quite the victory he and his team were looking for, his dramatic backwards finish provided the large crowd with the kind of excitement they were expecting from Gordon’s competitive nature.  Sunday’s Pro 2WD action found King Shock-equipped racers, Scott Taylor, Todd LeDuc, Robby Gordon, and Evan Evans, claiming four of the top six finishing positions – further proving that the top teams prefer the best off-road shock in the industry!

Writer: Kelli Willmore Photos: Art Eugenio

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