Down-pouring rains hit the Upper Michigan area 4 days before the heavy hitters of off road racing were to bring their show to one of the favorite tracks on the TORC Series circuit. With the thought of canceling Friday practice, the Bark River track crew worked non-stop to prep the track in hopes of draining the excess water for Saturday’s races. Mission accomplished and then some. Racers put the laps down during practice on Friday and then fine tuned the race rides for battle on Saturday.
The pros & sportsman got an added twist on the track with the moving of the finish line in front of the crowd in the form of a large tabletop. And the crowd got a great show all weekend.
The spectators who came for the whole show watched one of the best races of the weekend right off the bat in Limited 2wd. Dan Baudoux grabbed the lead while Mike Vanden Heuvel got a slow start off the line. Well, it didn’t matter as half way through the first lap, Mike was in 2nd place and pressuring Baudoux to make a mistake. Dan wasn’t going to have it that way for most of the race until 2-3 laps to go when Dan looked to be moving or crossing from right to left headed over the 200ft Big Hill jump. They never touched, but Dan’s truck started to turn broadside in front of Mike, while in the air. A racing miracle happened when Dan’s truck slammed the track and he was already hammering the gas, hoping to pull out of it and avoid the # 299 Vanden Heuvel truck t-boning him. It worked and they raced to the white flag, but Dan’s right rear tire was losing air and coming to the checkered flag, it blew apart 60 yards from the finish line. Rhonda Konitzer and Mike Baker were side by side when they caught Dan and split around him. At the end, Dan fell to 4th place. Rhonda beat Baker for 2nd while Vanden Heuvel took another Limited 2wd win.
Marty Hart got to the front with Casey Currie in chase of Andrew Caddell during Round 3 of Pro Light. Mark Oberg added his two cents worth for a 4 way fight to the checkers. After switching positions a couple of times, Andrew made the pass back on Casey, but couldn’t get close enough to Hart. Currie kept Oberg off the podium with his 3rd place finish.
Pro-2 racer, Rob MacCachren was poised to steal his 1st TORC win this season from the competition, but a flat tire early in the race set him to the back of the pack. Jeremy McGrath took the advantage and led the field to the mandatory yellow flag when he pulled into the hot pits for fender damage blocking his view. Mike Oberg took the reins of leader of the pack with Chad Hord and Jeff Kincaid in tow. The “Mac” was all throttle and was racing pass trucks each lap. With 2-3 laps left, got past Kincaid and then next lap, he got Hord for the 2nd spot. Oberg collected his 1st win and Rob Mac added his third in a row 2nd place finish, followed by Chad Hord.
Traxxas teammates & brothers, Mark & Mike Jenkins pulled out of turn 1 in the lead, followed by Toyota hot rods, Johnny Greaves & Rick Huseman. Greaves wasted no time getting to Pro 4×4 leader, Mark Jenkins and running away with the race. His closest threat was Huseman, who was dealing with Mark not wanting to give another spot away. After Jenkins fell back, Rick got within one truck length of Greaves and held on for 2nd place. Behind them Scott Douglas & Mike Jenkins played cat & mouse with each other for half the race until Douglas got little push on the rear bumper of Jenkins and made the pass. Scott then had to fight with Steve Barlow, who overtook Mike and got side by side with Douglas, but the checkered flag waved and Scott beat him to the line for 3rd.
After a walk through the pits and seeing the carnage from along day of racing, crews were changing motors, some going to back up trucks. Teams were borrowing parts from others. It was a total effort of all the teams to work & help who they could, so they could fight it out on the track the next day.
Sunday’s weather was watched very closely and racers were told in drivers meeting that classes would be moved around to get the Pro races in before the thunderstorms returned and ruined the prime race track. It all worked out perfectly as everyone raced and the rains stayed away long enough. Hats off to USAC, TORC and the Bark River staff for being ready and keeping the event moving along all day.
The Pro classes were moved up after 3 sportsman classes, including the Limited 2wd event. Dan Baudoux & Vanden Heuvel returned to battle on the hi-speed, all natural terrain race track as if they never stopped from Saturday’s race. Unfortunately, before the half way caution, Baudoux pulled off the track with truck issues, which may have come from the severe sideways landing the day before. Mike took off from there while Rhonda & Don Williams raced for the leftover spots. Rhonda would take 2nd and Don held on for 3rd.
The Pro-Lite hit the track and everyone was chasing Marty Hart, again. Casey stayed closed in hopes of improving on his 3rd place earlier. But Luke Johnson had something to say about that, along with Mark Oberg. At half way point, Andrew Caddell nailed the re-start just right and followed Marty Hart out of turn 1. Luke & Casey were now having to fight for 3rd place. But then 2 laps later, Andrew pulled off the track with motor issues. Mark Oberg made his way to 4th place when Luke slipped up and Mark got by with a couple of laps to go. In winners circle, Hart was on top of the box, followed by Casey in 2nd and Oberg in 3rd. Hart & Currie are tied for the lead and Andrew is only 4 points away.
Dan Vanden Heuvel hit the gas and hooked up for a solid hole shot at the drop of the green in Sunday’s Pro-2wd race. Hord, Oberg, Scott Taylor and Rob MacCachren were giving him pressure going around the big sweeping turn back to the Big Hill jump. On 2nd lap, Dan looped it around in turn 1, allowing Hord, Taylor and class to pass him. After trading places and wanting the 1st win of 2010 TORC season, MacCachren thought, enough is enough and checked out. Taylor was hungry as anyone, even for a podium finish. Ricky Johnson was causing Taylor to mind the truck on his rear bumper just as much as watching Rob and not letting him out of his sight. Hord & Oberg fell back and the train of 3 trucks continued onto the finish line. Rob took his 1st win of 2010 TORC series, followed by Ricky in 2nd and Taylor for his first podium spot this season. Rob now leads with 94 points over Ricky’s 79, then Kincaid with 69.
In one of the wildest starts of Pro 4×4 this year, Rick Huseman looked to over-rotate his truck in turn 2 and the field was in “gas on” mode. Douglas drifted up the banked corner and got up on 2 wheels as Mike Jenkins followed next and had nowhere to go but over the top of Huseman’s hood. Greaves was behind them and stayed to the left and avoided contact. Johnny took off the table top jump in 1st place and never looked back. Steve Barlow & Jenkins raced hard and didn’t have anything for Greaves. Douglas’s day was over to soon as he slammed up and onto the concrete wall and broke the front left. This helped Mark retain the 2nd place finish as Steve grabbed his 1st podium of season with 3rd. Greaves took over the points lead with 95, with Huseman at 85 and Douglas at 74.
In sportsman classes, Greg Stingle, Bill Kortens and Jeff Virnig put on a racing school for the crowd and they finished 1, 2, 3 both days in 1600 Light Buggy. Mark Stienhardt kept up his winning ways in 1600 Single Buggy for his 3rd win in a row on Saturday with Brad Erickson in 2nd. Sunday they switched and Brad took his 1st win of the season.
After winning 3 races in a row, CJ Greaves held on for two 2nd place spots as John Frana, who’s been racing & developing his all-wheel drive Super Buggy for 6 seasons, nailed a commanding win on Saturday. Then it was Steve Kriemans turn as he took over the lead when CJ had some gearbox issues and grabbed his 1st win of the season on Sunday.
Super Stock truck racers & cousins, Danny Beauchamp & Scott Beauchamp each took a win. Eric Ruppel recovered from a rough 6th place finish on Saturday for another 2nd place spot. Mitch Dorr and Don Demeny had some contact in Sunday’s race and Don prevailed for the 3rd spot, while Mitch took 4th.
It was a great weekend for fans to feel and see the passion these racers have for the sport and series. Lots of race action on a hi-speed track, Daytona style. Next up, it’s a Bristol style track, at night under the lights, as the race series heads to Oshkosh, WI for rounds 5-6 at SpeedZone Raceway on July 23-24. It’s going to get hotter next weekend.
For more news and info, head to www.torcseries.com
Current TORC points standings: RDC GRID