ERX Champ Off Road Wrap

stephenrjking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Posts
573
Reaction
940
Location
Duluth, MN
Perfect weather and perfect action at a very good track. My schedule and budget being what they are, this is actually the rare time I've been able to make both days of a race weekend in person.

The Good

I'd like to hear the perspective of others, because I usually cannot make the second day of ERX weekends, and last year was obviously going to be weird: Turnout was normal Friday, and it felt like Saturday was the busiest I've ever seen the track. Every bleacher seat taken, multipl people deep standing, reasonably crowded hillsides of camp chairs, full VIP tents, and larger-than-normal crowds in the "People of the Trees" area. Real crowds in general admission areas. Parking areas full up. Great sign if ERX can sustain this.

The track itself is mature. I was concerned early Friday that the modification of the split-lane was going to cause trouble, because the sportsmen couldn't work the inside of Talladega at all. But, as happened last year, the pro classes found lines on both sides, which made for great racing. The split lane can, at times, be a one-line proposition, but at its best it provides a dramatic option that produces compelling racing and visuals. The images of both Pro-4 races tearing down the split lane, the trucks desperately clawing for track position while balanced on the cusp of flying out of control, speeding through the dust and the glare of the setting sun, were incredible.

I'll put in a small plug for the DOT change, too, btw. Not much BFG support in the midwest, but when my kids were taking a picture next to RJ's truck (the team invited us into the stall to take pics and talk, I love that) I was able to point out to them that the tires on his truck, A/t KO2s, were the same model I have mounted on mine at home.

Two different teams let my kids sit in their vehicles, btw. Speedworx with Jorgensen's winning Arctic Cat, and Kevin Hanegraaf's Pro-2. That is cool.

The Bad

With bigger crowds comes crowd problems. There weren't enough port-a-johns near the seating areas (Lena, for example, had a much better distribution) and the traffic routing out of the track after the race borders on disastrous. It seems like a couple of easy tweaks to traffic flow (perhaps get some police help directing traffic? Maybe closing the right lane of the freeway so that traffic from the track can just enter without stopping?). The food truck choices are pretty good, but lines got long with larger crowds.

I'm also going to put in appeal for a bit more vendor and activity option. There was one bounce house for kids, but it wasn't a great choice and didn't move kids through fast, and a small climbing wall. Those have been well-appreciated; wouldn't mind some more stuff to interest kids and some more stuff to interest parents.

The Great

Oh man. The racing has been spectacular. The sportsman classes have had some great battles, but the pro classes really produced in every class and basically every race. The big inversions are doing their jobs. You can't argue that it's unfair to invert big numbers at ERX, which has many passing options, but gone are the days where a faster truck would carve through half the field to the lead in two laps. Still, you need more than track position to win, and Trevor Leighton's performance was stunning to me (I had to look him up, being honest).

SxS classes and Pro Lite were great too. But, c'mon...

Pro-4 was the class to watch. And it is paying off every ounce of promise it has offered. Two races, two incredible events that action from start to (almost) finish. Absolutely epic. I brought friends Saturday. The sport was at its best.

It might not last. Who knows when Johnny or Doug or Kyle hang it up? But right now there are 8+ guys that can win in Pro-2 (and the guy who won on Saturday isn't one of them, or so I thought) and virtually the whole double-figure field in pro-4 is the same.

Championship Off Road has it going right now. Maybe the growth won't last; who knows? Johnny Greaves won't drive forever. Doug Mittag and Jerrett Brooks are more at home in California. Kyle Leduc could decide he's done all he wants to at any time.

But right now it feels like a golden age.
 

ltr450rider

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Posts
359
Reaction
579
Location
California
Heard about the Pro-4 race on Friday. Hopefully they will show the replay as I don't have cable/sat TV to watch the CBS broadcast.
 

handmethemic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2006
Posts
644
Reaction
354
Location
Crandon, Wisconsin
Pro-4 was the class to watch. And it is paying off every ounce of promise it has offered.

+1 on this. Pro 4 was an all-timer on Friday... and then backed it up on Saturday with what would've been arguably the best Pro race this year--if not for coming on the heels of Friday's race.

Chaney looked like he belonged in the early going (no surprise, because as @stephenrjking mentioned, he's as talented as anyone else in the field). Just as exciting was Henderson turning a ten-truck deficit against RJ into a battle for the lead--we've been talking about Henderson's offseason work on the show every weekend and he backed it up in a coming-out party of sorts in Rd 5.

I really expect more of the same at Lena (obviously no RJ unless plans change, but I expect Mittag to bounce back and run near the front as he did at Antigo).
 

450grl

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2006
Posts
2,450
Reaction
636
Location
Chandler, AZ
Website
www.wellerracing.com
AMAZING live broadcasts every round - once again I was super unproductive on a weekend when I should have been doing productive things!! The racing was fantastic, the Pro 4 race for sure was the star of the weekend - the level those guys are all racing at is just insane! Great job announcing, great job with the drones, just awesome all around!
 

stephenrjking

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Posts
573
Reaction
940
Location
Duluth, MN
Ok, so I finally managed to catch all of the CBS sports show. I'm very glad that they are on the air, even on a niche network; it's important for the series and important for sponsors.

Overall, I give the show an A-minus.

One has to start with an understanding of the format. They're showing one episode in a one-hour time block per race weekend, and it only airs once. So that has to drive a lot of the production choices. And with that known, what they produced is very good.

Somehow they managed to show significant amounts of four races, which was very impressive. The SxS races, in particular, were edited down; the Pro-2 and Pro-4 races as well, though less was cut.

...But the edits were practically invisible, to the point that I had a hard time detecting them and I watched the races when they occurred. As far as I can tell, Cheyne and Brent didn't do a lot of post-production dubbing, their commentary was all pulled live, and for the most part that was a good choice. Haley's mid-race updates actually seemed better suited for the show format than live, and with a couple of exceptions (capturing Brent talking about 3 minutes remaining, for example, when the time limit is otherwise not discussed on the show) everything came together well. Cheyne and Brent's turn-taking announcing style makes this sort of editing work very smoothly.

The choice to include winner's commentary but not spend a ton of time on the podium was good, too. COR doesn't have 4 episodes to fill with one weekend, but it's good to see the winner speak. This contrasts nicely with, for example, BITD spending 10+ minutes on finisher interviews for a long desert race.

The feature shorts were good, too. Haley's brief discussion of the surface was very good and honestly they could have gone into that more--what do the changes of the surface do to the trucks, how does that effect tire choice and driving style, etc. I'd love to see more of this insight, because there's a lot of stuff that I, as a fan who has paid pretty close attention for several years now, still don't get a chance to learn about. Plus, with production tires, getting Haley (or the drivers themselves) to describe what drove the choice of which DOT tire would play rather well. Why was RJ using an all-terrain instead of a mud-terrain at ERX, for example? This is stuff that is there to be used. The features that were in place for Antigo were good.

The part that confused me was the "previous race highlights." For Pro-2, they showed the Saturday highlight before the Sunday race, and it made perfect sense. But then, for the other series, they showed a highlight package out of a break.... and I couldn't tell if it was the highlights of the race we just saw or the previous day, and in some cases it looked like they might have spliced highlights from both. Needlessly confusing. If they spend some of the limited airtime on an extended highlight, show the previous day and make it clear what it is.

The other unfortunate problem was the complete absence of promotion. I knew that the show was airing on CBS Sports when my friend texted me a picture from him watching it as it aired.

Overall, though, an excellent show. The decision to show the races from the second day only, and making it clear that it's the second day, is the right one, and given how much footage they wanted to show, they did a masterful job cramming it in without it feeling crammed in. This is a huge step up from the last TORC episodes we were getting, and is a step ahead of shows produced by SCORE and BITD right now. The on-site stuff and features, to me, put it right up there with the LOORRS shows that just ceased, and I'm sure if they had more air time it would be more clearly the case.

This is a good thing for the sport. I hope things continue to grow.
 

handmethemic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2006
Posts
644
Reaction
354
Location
Crandon, Wisconsin
As far as I can tell, Cheyne and Brent didn't do a lot of post-production dubbing, their commentary was all pulled live

Correct, anything "between the flags" is from the live show (unless we make some egregious error when calling it live, which we are now certain to do after I've mentioned it).

COR doesn't have 4 episodes to fill with one weekend

In a perfect world...
 
Top