Scott Douglas: A Favorite in Topeka as Suspension Battle Heats Up Topeka, KS - Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) returned to Heartland Park Topeka Raceway this past weekend after a two year hiatus. The last time CORR was in Topeka, Scott...
Scott Douglas: A Favorite in Topeka as Suspension Battle Heats Up
Topeka, KS - Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) returned to Heartland Park Topeka Raceway this past weekend after a two year hiatus. The last time CORR was in Topeka, Scott Douglas thrilled off-road enthusiasts with an exciting win in PRO4, making him a crowd favorite.
Much has changed in the past three years, but not the devotion of the Scott Douglas fan base. They came to watch the red Rancho Ford F-150 run in the hot Kansas summer sunshine and for the first time in CORR history, under the raceway lights at night.
One aspect that is noticeably different in 2004 is the level of participation on the part of major aftermarket suspension and accessory manufacturers. CORR is an important venue for aftermarket manufacturers who need to reach hard-core off-road enthusiasts. Two-time CORR champion Douglas established this trend with a primary sponsorship from Rancho Suspension in 1998 following two years of flying DynoMax Performance Exhaust colors. Today, no less than four aftermarket suspension manufacturers are fielding professional CORR teams. Skyjacker, Fabtech, and Pro Comp join Rancho Suspension with major efforts in the series, recognizing the credibility CORR competition and Speed Channel television exposure bring to their brand.
Another change comes in the form of track ownership. Blackhawk Farms Raceway proprietor Raymond Irwin purchased Heartland Park Topeka in 2003 and is actively promoting this beautiful 750 acre facility. CORR recently signed a multi-year agreement with Heartland Park Topeka and current plans call for two night races in 2005.
By racing both Friday and Saturday night and again during the day on Sunday, CORR was able to make up the weather postponed second round of racing from Dresser, WI. The Topeka track was made of heavy Kansas river bottom clay that was unlike anything CORR teams have raced on. The thick, heavy, and very sticky clay provided incredible traction...too much traction at times...stressing powertrains and hardware to new limits and causing a high attrition rate among the pro teams.
"Douglas Motorsports does a considerable amount of technology transfer work with our sponsors - testing components in the harsh environment of off-road racing" stated Douglas in Topeka. "If something fails, we feed data along with the parts back to the engineering teams responsible for the program in an effort to build better parts. Durability is the name of the game in the light truck industry. We take a production four-wheel-drive transfer case, for example, or aftermarket suspension component and punish it with our 850 horsepower race truck. If there is a weakness, we will find it. Computer simulation and modeling have come a long way, but there is still no substitute for real-world durability testing."
Just to keep things interesting, CORR inverts the starting grid so points leaders start in the back of the pack and must pass their way to the front. In the Friday night PRO4 race, slower traffic tangled in the first turn, forcing Douglas to the rear of the field. Though track conditions made passing difficult, Scott was able to secure a 5th place finish.
Saturday night yielded a similar starting scenario. The pace was frantic and the passing options were few, but once Douglas was able to clear slower traffic he quickly settled into a pace that was closing nearly a second on the leaders with each lap. Late in the race after a flawless run through the rough infield rhythm section, the Rancho Suspension F-150 slowed to crawl. The rear driveshaft let go - a part with no history of failure.
The Douglas Motorsports team under the direction of Crew Chief Ted Kendall worked late into the night and early morning hours in preparation for Sunday's PRO4 Round 8. What a difference a day makes. Through turn one, Douglas was in second and charging hard. He quickly passed the first place truck and opened a solid lead. Johnny Greaves challenged, but his charge was cut short by a black flag penalty. The Rancho Ford was out in front running alone at a furious pace. Then, three laps past the halfway point of the race, Douglas lost four-wheel-drive. A CORR PRO4 truck is a real handful without the front drive, yet Scott hung in there to post a finish in the points.
The well worn phase "that's racing" is little comfort when you are running like Scott Douglas was in Round 8. After eight rounds of racing in the 2004 season, Douglas is tied for fourth in the CORR PRO4 points battle with Skyjacker Suspension driver Curt LeDuc. "We really wanted to win again for the loyal fans here in Topeka and our great sponsors - Rancho Suspension, DynoMax Performance Exhaust, Ford Motor Company, BFGoodrich, Reider Racing, Precision Gear, Wolverine Performance, MasterCraft Seats, American Racing Wheels, MSD, KC HiLites, Howe Performance, Autometer, K&N, and Justice Brothers. We'll be back faster and stronger than ever in a few weeks" commented Douglas.
Scott Douglas continues to lead Class 3100 points in the Best In The Desert (BITD) series. The next stop on the CORR schedule is Bark River, MI on August 14th &15th. For the latest information on Douglas Motorsports and links to sponsor websites, log on to: www.douglasmotorsports.com.