Trucks will fly high and fast on Belle Isle

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights — Arie Luyendyk Jr. can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of his high-flying truck this weekend on Belle Isle while competing in the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks series.

It will be Luyendyk’s season opener, and he will be flying around in his Quicken Loans-sponsored truck upwards of 135 miles per hour with its 600 horsepower and street tires, hitting several ramps at 80 mph, then soaring 20 to 25 feet through the air for eight to 10 laps.

“I’m excited,” said the 34-year-old Luyendyk. “I have three races, which is awesome, the only weekend we do three races. I’m back with Quicken Loans, which has supported me the last three years, and this is their home event. It’s an awesome event.

“We’re a little bit of a side show and it’s all-out war for eight or 10 laps. The fans love it. I think having those two jumps right in front of the chalets on the front straight is spectacular, and for us it’s very difficult to line the trucks up to get it perfect because as soon as we land off one jump we’re into the next. It makes it a challenge, but we love it.”

Luyendyk said there will be a new driver in the field, Matthew Brabham, who competed in the Indy 500. And some of the drivers have been on Belle Isle before, including the founder of the series, Robby Gordon.

“Pretty much everyone in the field has grabbed a podium at some point, so it’s pretty stacked,” Luyendyk said. “EJ Viso will be back, Burt Jenner will be back, and you can never count Robby out; he wants to win worse than any of us, I think.”

Viso won multiple truck races two years ago and Jenner, son of Caitlyn Jenner, won a race last year.

No doubt, Luyendyk has racing in his blood, watching his father, Arie, compete in the IndyCar series and winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1990 and again ’97.

“He drove his 1990 Lola that he won with Domino’s Pizza before the race (Sunday), doing parade laps,” said Luyendyk of his father during Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. “He loves that car. I was there when he won them. I’ve been to Indy to watch the 500 every year since I was 4.”

Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said he is looking forward to this weekend.

“We are so prepared and ready to go racing on Belle Isle. I’ve never seen it look better and obviously the weather has been very cooperative and it looks like it will be strong for us weatherwise this weekend.

“Today, the transporters started arriving, the team owners’ motor coaches all came in, probably 150 semis arrived today across that bridge. I love this part of the week because it’s just coming together, the pieces of the puzzle. Tomorrow, the IndyCar teams, the IMSA teams, the truck teams will all be here.”

Denker said he expects 100,000 fans for the three-day weekend, saying the event gained tremendous momentum from the Indy 500, which more than 350,500 fans attended.

“One hundred thousand is a good number for us and that’s what we’re expecting,” Denker said. “Ticket sales are going better for Saturday than Sunday right now. We have a great concert Saturday night, the Romantics.”

Remembering Guthrie

Denker topped the field in the third annual Doug Guthrie Memorial Media Karting Challenge at Kart-to-Kart Tuesday night.

“This is about Doug Guthrie, really about Doug and his family ... and to pay tribute to him and how much he was a motorsports enthusiast and how much we loved him,” said Denker. “It’s always nice to get out here.”