Former NASCAR and IndyCar driver Robby Gordon’s stadium trucks series continues to grow in its second season.
The series, which will be televised for the second straight year on NBC and the NBC Sports Network, will be rebranded this season, now that Traxxas has come on board as a presenting sponsor for the full schedule.
The series will now be known as SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Series Presented by Traxxas.
“Traxxas has been a major supporter of SST/Formula Off-Road Series since its inception and the brand continues to realize the marketing capabilities of our unique series by taking this presenting role after fielding two trucks in the Series in our first season,” Gordon said in a statement.
The series kicks off a 13-event schedule on March 28-30 in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.). Other cities on the 2014 circuit are Long Beach, Calif., Indianapolis; Detroit; Austin, Texas; Toronto, Canada; Costa Mesa, Calif.; San Diego and the season-ending event Nov. 3-7 in Las Vegas.
Traxxas is one of the largest manufacturers of radio control vehicles in the world – including cars, trucks, boats and helicopters – and touts itself as “the Fastest Name in Radio Control.”
“Being associated with the Formula Off-Road Series provides the perfect forum for Traxxas to showcase the extreme capabilities and incredible fun that our vehicles deliver,” Traxxas President Mike Jenkins said. “The SSTs are fast, jump and fly high, just as their scaled-down Traxxas R/C replicas. The Formula Off-Road Series allows us to market our trucks and cars directly to one of our most targeted groups of customers and put our products in their hands to experience and enjoy.”
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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.