‘Chopper’ Hopes Pro Trucks Entertain Five Flags Fans in Primetime Debut this Friday
By Chuck Corder
Still waiting for the results, but four out of five doctors believe “Chopper” Stagner bleeds fuel.
The other is likely turning a wrench on one of Stagner’s stock cars.
The Turnerville, Ala., is one of the local short-track scene’s true entertainers.
Ask him his age? “39 and holdin’,” is what comes flying back.
But what makes him more entertaining is watching Stagner and his team pour their hearts into racing.
He has raced in a slew of classes between Pensacola and his home track of Mobile.
This Friday he’ll be at Five Flags Speedway helping to provide a spark into a new Pro Trucks class when the grandstands open at 5 p.m.
Who better than the man himself to explain:
“Man, I absolutely love it!” said Stagner, whose real first name is Steve. “Just the look of truck is different. They’re a whole lotta fun to drive. It feels like a late model, but it’s more fun because you’re on 8-inch tires. You can have one guy gone and the rest are just fightin’ it out.”
Need we say more, folks.
Admission is as follows: $10, adults; $8, seniors, military and students; $5, children 6-11; and free, under-6.
The Trucks, Modifieds and Super Stocks all start their respective seasons Friday with 25-lap features. The Sportsmen and Bombers, who rang in their new years last Friday when the Must See sprints were in town, battle in a pair of 20 lappers.
While it is the Trucks’ debut for a hefty feature, they were here last season as part of an exhibition race.
Stagner, a prolific Sportsman driver in recent years, anticipates possibly a dozen trucks showing up this Friday with high hopes for an incoming rush of more in following weeks.
“You’ve got a lot of different people that felt like they didn’t have a class,” said Stagner, who jump to a truck a couple of years ago. “Pro Late Models takes a lotta money. Super Stocks are a hard class to break into. Modifieds are light, but people want something a bit more stable. A guy who hasn’t done a whole lotta racing could get a truck and compete.”
Stagner remembers the Southern All Stars days when trucks where a featured act at short-tracks in the south.
While the enthusiasm may have dwindled away, Stagner is confident that’s simply a part of a recent past and the time seems ripe for the trucks to triumphantly return.
“I think it’ll take off,” he re-emphasized. “What’s most enticing about this class is it’s gonna be affordable. Once people see, ‘Those guys are having fun and it’s affordable,’ I think they’ll want to see more.”
Stagner’s No. 38 won’t be hard to miss come Friday. And not simply because he’ll be one of the favorites to win the feature.
Always a man of orange, Stagner has ditched his memorable color scheme this season, opting instead for pink in hopes of raising awareness for breast cancer survivors and those who continue to wage their courageous battles every day.
It’s the latter that hits directly home for Stagner.
“We said before the season, ‘We’re gonna ace regardless,’ ” Stagner recounted, “ ‘Let’s do it for a good cause.’ ”
He hopes to drive that good cause into Victory Lane on Friday at Five Flags.
Ultimately, though, win or lose, Stagner hopes to create a buzz for the new Pro Trucks. After all, it is what you’d expect from a true entertainer.
“I hope (the fans) get their money’s worth come Friday and that (the Pro Trucks) catch on,” Stagner boomed. “We conduct ourselves as a good race team because we care about those fans that are in the stands. Without them there, we won’t have a place to race. They are our bread and butter.”