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Building a Winner

Posted in Features on August 23, 2005 Comment (0)
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Robby Gordon, one of the most talented drivers on asphalt or dirt, was long overdue for a big Baja win. Robby has been close to that win several times, only to have it slip from his grasp. That all changed when Mr. Gordon dominated the field at the 2005 SCORE Baja 500. On a Baja 500 racecourse that many felt was one of the most brutal ever, Robby simply applied his driving skills and his throttle foot to the terrain and guided his Trophy Truck home for the win.

Famous for his no-holds-barred driving style, Robby's philosophy was to build a truck that could handle whatever he chose to dish out. A well-built truck meant that there was no need to slow down to "save the truck" for the finish line. The combination of Robby's philosophy and the inhospitable Baja terrain meant that in-house building was the only correct way to tackle the task. From the CAD designing to the CNC machining to the meticulous fit-up and welding, each critical element of the construction was tackled by Team Gordon staffers using Team Gordon equipment. We were fortunate enough to gain permission to document Team Gordon as they took Robby's 2005 Baja 500-winning Trophy Truck from concept to creation at Team Gordon's shop in Anaheim, California, during the months that led up to the truck's debut at the 2003 Baja 1000.

During this one-of-a-kind seven-month buildup, weekly laps up and back on the 57 Freeway were like seat time at Martinsville. During construction, our persistent appearances at the shop at least twice a week to record current updates nearly caused shop manager Roger Willis to issue us timecards to punch.

Team Gordon Trophy Truck
In this day and age of high-tech computers, there's no such things as T-squares, protractors, and slide rules anymore. Team Gordon's Trophy Truck was conceived from a computer's CAD program. From the computer to the tubing rack, material was pulled, then cut, bent, fish-mouthed, and tack-welded in place. Suspension components such as front A-arms, rear trailing arms, shock absorbers, spindles, and brake rotors were all designed and built in-house by Team Gordon. Even the body molds were CAD-designed. After the molds were prepped, they were gelcoated and hand-laid, and the body components were cured then pulled. Each body component was located, mounted, and secured using Dzus fasteners on the all-tube chassis.

The body was then removed, allowing access to complete the trophy truck's construction. The design and fabrication continued, including installation of the engine, transmission, V-drive, driveshafts, steering, fuel delivery and cooling systems, interior, electronic components, wiring, seating, safety equipment, and so on.

Our mission was to record on film the progression of the No. 31 Red Bull, Chevy CK 1500, trophy truck, from the computer to the desert.

View Slideshow
View Slideshow

Robby Gordon:


Off-Road, On-Road Racer Extraordinaire
Gordon began racing motocross at the age of 7. By the time he was 15, he was winning major events. In 1985, his dad, Bob, convinced him to switch to off-road racing. Gordon won the first off-road race he entered, the Nevada 500, beating his dad who finished Second. Gordon went on to win six off-road championships.

In 1990, he moved from dirt to asphalt, driving an IMSA GTO Mercury Cougar for the Jack Roush Racing team. He won three Rolex Daytona 24-Hour races in a row. In 1992, he captured his first-ever Trans-Am race, which he entered at Long Beach, winning the pole and the race. That same year, he drove a Lola for Chip Ganassi Racing in the PPG IndyCar Series. Gordon went on to compete in the PPG IndyCar Series full-time, making his NASCAR debut with the Kranefuss/Haas team. He also competed in the NASCAR Super Truck debut race at Bakersfield. His first taste of the Winston Cup came in 1991 when raced for Junie Dunlavey in the Daytona 500, and he followed that up by driving for the No. 28 Ford of Robert Yates at Talladega. He nearly won the Indy 500 in 1999, only to run out of gas on the last lap. Later, he formed his own NASCAR Winston Cup team for the 2000 season. Then in 2001, he signed with Richard Childress (RCR), when he drove the No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet.

During the 2002 and 2003 Memorial Day weekends, Gordon transformed into an Ironman, competing in the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then flying by corporate jet and helicopter to the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, just in time to get strapped into his No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo for NASCAR's Winston Cup Coca-Cola 600. That's 1,100 miles of racing in one day. In 2002, Gordon finished Eighth in the Indy 500 and Sixteenth in the Coca-Cola 600. Last year, Gordon's Indy 500 Honda-powered Dallara finished Twenty-seventh after dropping out on Lap 169 with gearbox problems. Changing from his Indy driver's uniform into his Cingular Wireless threads, he arrived at Lowe's Motor Speedway by helicopter, and Gordon was greeted to a standing ovation by the capacity crowd. Because he missed the mandatory driver's meeting earlier, Gordon had to start the race last. After driving tough all race, Gordon finished Seventeenth in the Coca-Cola 600.

Some consider Gordon to be the most versatile race driver on the planet.

Sources

Robby Gordon Off Road
Anaheim, CA 92806

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