Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Brian Deegan became famous for different reasons. One preferred the sleek speed of sports cars and Indy cars, while the other made his name in the world of tattoos and two wheels.
But after lengthy careers in each of their respective sports, they both ended up in the same place: racing off-road trucks.
They had their different reasons for doing so, too.
From Road Racing to Off-Road
Luyendyk, now 35, had always been a road racer. He competed in sports cars and made it to Indy Lights on the Verizon IndyCar Series’ developmental ladder, just one step below the main series, and has raced in the Indianapolis 500. But he’d sort of reached a point in sports car racing and open-wheel racing where he was ready to try something new.
That’s when Luyendyk had a chat with Stadium Super Trucks founder Robby Gordon at an Indy car race in 2013. He took up Gordon’s invitation to test an off-road truck in California and “just fell in love with it.”
“I’d never driven on dirt, I’d never jumped anything,” said Luyendyk, who would eventually start his own team in TORC: The Off-Road Championship. “Not on a skateboard, not on a snowboard — nothing. It was a completely different world to me.”
That different world was what Luyendyk said “sort of reinvigorated” his career, which had been the same for so long.
“This came along and it made me adapt to a new type of race car — race truck,” Luyendyk said. “It made me, in a way, reinvent the way I drove, which was a big challenge, but it made it fun again.”
Luyendyk found the most fun in TORC and in Stadium Super Trucks, and he’s now racing for a championship in the latter. But at first, Luyendyk says he “had a lot to learn.”
“Honestly, I wasn’t that great at first,” he said. “But I think Robby saw something in me and really took me under his wing. I’m so grateful for him to kind of show me that type of racing.”
Luyendyk, who’s driven both the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, would like to get back into sports car racing at some point. But other than that, he loves where he’s at with off-road racing — for more reasons than one.
“I think it’s one of those things where I love to take risks,” Luyendyk said. “This type of racing, since it’s a little bit crazy and a lot can happen in one race, it just really attracted me to it and I think that’s why I’m good at it.”
Part of what makes racing in Stadium Super Trucks so appealing to Luyendyk is that Gordon maintains all of the trucks, leveling the playing field at each race. Luyendyk knows he can show up to the track anytime and “have an opportunity to win,” and — unlike any racing he’s experienced before — that he loves how Gordon’s trucks go on three wheels.
“You have to be on three wheels to be fast because that’s how the truck makes grip,” Luyendyk said. “Then, also, the dirt is interesting because it’s a lot like racing in the rain. You’re always trying to find traction, and there’s this whole different element to it that was really challenging but appealing to me.”
Off-road racing was also appealing to Luyendyk’s sponsors, which he claims virtually cemented his choice to focus more on that than Indy car racing.
“One year, I went to SEMA and I had a deck for Indy car racing and I had a deck for Stadium Super Trucks,” Luyendyk said. “I went around to all of the different companies, and so many companies were drawn to the off-road because it just fit the everyday (person).
“It was something that was action packed. It had a lot of value for them because it was — I’m not going to say inexpensive, but compared to Indy car racing, it was inexpensive.”