Even for many car enthusiasts, the ultimate expression of off-road competition isn't real life Baja racing but rather a rather simple video game from the late '80s called Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road but known to most as simply Super Off-Road. Now it's coming back.
Not as a video game. As a real racing series called Robby Gordon's Super Stadium Trucks. Better start saving for NITRO shots right now.
It's a quirk of history that we remember a style of racing not for the series that originated it, but for the video game that copied it (and the games that copies that). In the late '80s and early '90s the arcades were full of the little cars jumping around inside a stadium as teenagers spun the weightless wheel around like a drunk debutante.
But the source of the game, the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Race Series, is almost never mentioned with regards to Super Off-Road even though its lineage is obvious — the eponymous "Ironman" Stewart was one of the best drivers.
This is possibly because Mickey Thompson was gunned down a year before the game debuted, along with his wife. Who would want their new game associated with that? The series itself continued, sort of, but focus shifted to bikes in stadiums.
The idea itself was genius. As Thompson famously quipped, he was tired of being seen "by nothing but cactus and jackrabbits" in the traditional world of off-loading racing and thus moved it into small stadium tracks where people could see the whole action (it's great for television, too).
Robby Gordon is essentially insane and a huge ass, but launching and maintaining a racing series relies heavily on those skills so his just announced Stadium Super Trucks series might have a chance even without any listed sponsors.
Gordon calls it "Baja meets Bigfoot" and "the next big thing," but those of us who played video games in the '80s or '90s will recognize the series for what it is: Super Off-Road without the water hazards (probably, Gordon is crazy). The few fans of the current Lucas Off-Road Series will probably recognize the similarity as well.
The plan is to launch the first season in 2013 in San Diego and Los Angeles and then move on to stadiums around the country. We wish Gordon luck and make only one request: with KERS that whole "NITRO" thing can be replicated in real life.
Photo Credit: Robby Gordon, Getty Images