NASCAR Xfinity SeriesOff Road

Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst running off-road throwbacks at Darlington

3 Mins read
Credit: Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing

Before becoming NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, Sheldon Creed and Riley Herbst were tearing it up in short course off-road racing and deserts to great success. As part of NASCAR’s annual throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway on 11/12 May, the two will sport liveries paying tribute to desert legends.

Creed’s #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota GR Supra will be adorned in the colours of Ivan Stewart‘s Toyota Trophy Truck. A Toyota factory racer since 1983, Stewart turned the white, yellow, orange, and red PPI Motorsports truck into arguably the most famous off-road racing vehicle of all time. He enjoyed success almost immediately with back-to-back SCORE International championships, adding to a legendary résumé that includes four SCORE titles, three Baja 1000 victories, and the most wins in the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group.

His achievements at the height of off-road racing’s popularity and factory support, as well as lending his name to the Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road arcade game, further etched the truck into motorsport lore. He was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006.

“This year’s theme being grassroots, feel like people are going to throw back to maybe their old late model heroes. (But) Ivan Stewart came up, he was an old Toyota Trophy Truck, Baja 1000 racer, desert racer in general before I was a kid, back when Robby Gordon was a kid racing off-road,” said Creed. “They had a a car that was ahead of its time, essentially a really lightweight single-seater and just a really cool truck that I haven’t had to be able to go old school Toyota colors and throw it back to something that I grew up doing.

“I grew up racing off-road and in a little bit of desert racing. We see a lot of throwbacks in NASCAR, late models, old modifieds. I think it’s fun to to be a little different and yeah, try to bring some off-road grassroots back into NASCAR a little bit.”

The throwback is not Creed’s first time honouring an off-road hero at Darlington. During his 2020 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship campaign, his #2 Silverado was adorned in the colours of Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet truck. Creed was previously one of the top rising stars in short course, becoming the winningest driver in Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks (the spiritual successor to MTEG) and even racing the Dakar Rally before switching to stock cars.

Meanwhile, Herbst’s #98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang is bright red as a nod to his family’s Terrible Herbst Motorsports vehicles. The Herbsts have done off-road racing since the discipline’s birth in the late 1960s, starting with grandfather Jerry Herbst in NORRA and the early SCORE era with six straight Class 1 titles. He was inducted into the ORMHOF in 2013.

While he is committed to stock cars, Riley’s father Troy, uncles Ed and Tim, and cousins Thor and Pierce currently compete in SCORE’s Trophy Truck Spec category. Troy won the Baja 1000 in 2004 and 2005 alongside Larry Roeseler, as well as one of the longest desert races in the United States when he claimed the rally raid-style Nevada 2000 at the turn of the millennium.

Last November, Riley and Troy teamed up with Jordan Dean (whose family is close with the Herbsts) to win the Baja 1000 in the TT Spec class. Riley grew up in short course like Creed before focusing on pavement, but has occasionally returned to the desert for the 1000 almost annually since 2020.

The red #98 marks the second consecutive year that Herbst’s throwback is a nod to an off-road great. At the 2023 Darlington race, his car was designed to resemble the late Ken Block‘s Gymkhana 3 Ford Fiesta.

Entering Darlington, Herbst is sixth in points while Creed sits two places back. In eight career Xfinity starts at Darlington, Herbst has three top tens and a best run of third in 2022. The South Carolina circuit is one of Creed’s best, having won there twice in Trucks and nearly claiming the Xfinity event in 2022, and he certainly hopes the throwback will give him good luck as he continues to seek his first victory in the series. 2024 is Creed’s first season with JGR, who fittingly has a desert racing engine division.

The Xfinity Series’ Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 will take place on Saturday, 11 May.

Avatar photo
3631 posts

About author
Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
Related posts
Off Road

Larry Ragland retiring from racing

3 Mins read
“Lightning” Larry Ragland, one of the greatest racers in desert racing history, is hanging up his helmet after an illustrious 48-year career. He went out on top by winning the NORRA Mexican 1000’s Historic Truck class.
Historic RacingOff Road

Menzies, Sutherland three-peat as tragedy overshadows Mexican 1000

6 Mins read
The Mexican 1000 is the Happiest Race on Earth, but the deaths of Brent Yeadon and Johnny Kaiser unfortunately put a damper on the event.
Off Road

Legacy, VORRA create Battle Born 1000 for 2025

2 Mins read
The Valley Off Road Racing Association and Legacy Racing Association have joined forces to create the Battle Born 1000, a 1000-mile race through the Nevada desert scheduled for 26–28 June 2025.