For 52 years a small town in Wisconsin has hosted short course racing and every year it only gets better. Crandon International Raceway is where short course lives and breaths. Its been said many times, Crandon is our sports Super Bowl, Indy 500, Daytona, etc, it’s more then just a race, its more then just an event, it is an experience you share with 60,000 people.
With 42 races on the schedule over the course of three days it was easily the busiest race weekend Crandon has ever seen with the addition of Class 11 races and Ultra 4 having a regional race here as well. The entire crew of Crandon and Championship Off-Road did a terrific job keeping the event flowing and the fans got all they could ask for.
You can’t have Labor Day weekend without first the parade in downtown Crandon. Thousands of fans walk the main boulevard hoping to get an autograph of their favorite racer and snap a selfie to freeze a moment in time on their social media.
For the first time Crandon live streamed the parade bringing in Ralph Sheheen (Down goes Stewart!) and Ken Stout (the prevailer of all short course stats) to do commentary for the parade as well as for Sunday’s Crandon World Cup races.
The festivities kick off at high noon when the towns sirens signal the start of the parade. Race teams then drive down the street throwing candy out for the kids all while the adults yell to “do a burnout!”.
This year marked the 10 year anniversary of the passing of short course legend Rick Huseman. As a tribute his late wife Michelle Huseman restored his iconic truck and brought it out to Crandon as tribute. It was on display during the parade and Sunday morning Michelle took the truck around the track before the start of the races with her son Ricky on her lap. It was a special moment for a special driver who will never be forgotten
ULTRA 4 RACING
Ultra 4 Racing has had a presence in Crandon the last few years with 4400 racers coming out to play for exhibition races but for the first time Ultra 4 used Labor Day weekend as a regional race with additional classes coming to play in the mix for season points. The SXS’s and EMC classes came out as well running the total car count to nearly 70 vehicles.
New to this year was the addition of a rock obstacle on the main course for all the fans to see. Thousands of pounds of rocks were added just after the finish line jump that the racers would have to hit every lap, and these weren’t tiny rocks. Standing next to them some of them could be as tall as waist high so this wasn’t just an easy obstacle to get past.
The SXS and EMC classes did their first of two races on Friday after the parade and then all three classes raced under the lights Saturday night which also included the back rock section where the fans packed the hill and a bar was setup. After a long day of festivities and racing the fans stayed to watch all the Ultra 4 classes put a show of their own on.
Loren Healy continued to show a dominating performance Saturday night putting a big gap on the rest of the 4400 class to take home the win, and then backing that up on Sunday in the Crandon World Cup race taking home another win. Paul Horschel was keeping Healy honest on Sunday before getting a flat in the rock section but was able to hold on to a third place finish after Vaughn Gitten Jr was able to get around him.
For the first time ever Class 11 cars were invited to Crandon to participate in the Labor Day festivities. Earlier this year in March the Class 11 cars came to the first Great American Short Course race and we came up with the idea about having them out at Crandon. We put Blake Wilkey and Crandon’s promoter Marty Fiolka in contact with each other and the rest as they say is history.
Class 11 is always fun to watch and the crowds loved them even though most in attendance has never seen one race before, there is just something about the iconic car that makes people smile.
The group put on a great show and we hope they get to come back next year!
With all the excitement and buzz surrounding Labor Day weekend Championship Off-Road still had championships to finalize as Crandon was their final round of racing. Sportsman racers finished up their season with two rounds Friday and Saturday while the Pro classes just had one round on Saturday before their big cup races the next day. Prolite was the only class that was already decided with Brock Heger securing the championship out in Bark River.
Other classes were extremely close while some second place needed a miracle but mathematically anything could happen. In Pro 4 CJ Greaves came into Crandon with a comfortable points lead over Kyle Leduc and mainly needed to start the race and finish to win the championship. Just a few laps into the race Leduc would suffer a shock issue causing him to pull off so the championship would go to CJ who finished 6th. CJ’s dad Johnny would win the final round giving him 101 career Pro 4 wins followed by Jimmy Henderso and Kyle Chaney.
The Pro 2 championship had a few different scenarios that could unfold to see who would walk away with a ring. Jerett Brooks came into the race the points leader and had to finish about mid pack to secure the championship but the racing gods had other plans. Off the start going into turn two the power steering belt broke causing a huge pile up and ending his race. This left Keegan Kincaid and Cory Winner to battle it out and they were so close it pretty much came down to who finished in front of who. Keegan would lead at the halfway point giving him some valuable points and would go on to win the race giving him the points championship by one point.
Champ has done a great job all year and next year should only be better with rumors of another weekend being added to the schedule along with a new location.
CRANDON WORLD CUP
The big day arrived on Sunday as there were no more points battles and everything could be left on the line for those who wanted to be crowned a Crandon World Champion. The final race of the day that puts the Pro 2’s against the Pro 4’s is the most anticipated race of the year. Watching the two classes when they compete just against one another is always exciting to watch but when they are on the track at the same time its like time stops and everyone is on their feet waiting for the hunters to catch the hunted.
The Pro 2 trucks get a head start while the Pro 4 drivers anxiously await for their own green flag to start the pursuit. For the Pro 4’s there really is two races in one, first you have to get around all the Pro 4’s and finally start picking off the Pro 2’s. Throughout the years its never been a guarantee the Pro 4’s win as many things determine that. The gap the Pro 2 are given, weather conditions, the amount of entries and a little bit of luck all play into account.
This year the Pro 2’s were past the timing tower before the Pro 4’s were given the green flag making their pursuit an interesting one especially with how talented the Pro 2 field is these days. Keegan Kincaid got the hole shot from the start and began laying down consistent laps while the rest of the field played chase.
When the Pro 4’s started it was Johnny Greaves who got the hole shot sliding sideways through turn one and setting the stage for the battle. Lap after lap the Pro 4’s got closer to the Pro 2’s finally catching them about halfway through the race. Once you’re caught in a Pro 2 by the 4wd’s there is no point in holding them up, and Greaves began making his way through the field. A great battle was behind Keegan with Cory Winner and Ryan Beat racing for the number two spot with Beat finally passing Winner in the last corner with a few laps to go, but had the roaring sound of Toyota power close behind.
Greaves would be able to get around Beat with a few laps to go but Keegan had put too much time on the rest of the field and would cross the finish line first with room to spare making him the 2021 Redbull Crandon World Cup Race winner taking home $30,000 in prize money.
Photos by HighRev Photography