The wild world of foot-to-the-floor short course off-road racing made its triumphant return to America’s Motocross Track today as RedBud MX played host to Round 9 of TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered on the grassy spectator lawn to watch the races under billowy clouds and in perfect temperatures. Some lucky spectators even managed a bird’s-eye view by purchasing the chance to circle the track by helicopter.
After a four-year hiatus from the TORC Series, officials at RedBud created a technical-yet-high speed track on a section of the property adjacent to where TORC held its previous races. For the first time, drivers tackled the new track in a spectacle resembling the motocross races that make RedBud famous. Features of the track included a land rush start, a more open racing area, considerable elevation changes, technical turns and rough terrain.
“We know how hard it is, and RedBud did an awesome job in building this track in just a few short weeks,” said PRO 2 and PRO Light driver Andrew Carlson.
Here’s a breakdown of the TORC PRO class races, beginning with the premier event, PRO 4.
MISTAKES AND MECHANICS SHUFFLE PRO 4 DECK
Michigan’s Ross Hoek would lead the PRO 4 class into the first turn, pulling the holeshot and taking the early lead in Saturday’s premier TORC truck contest. His lead would be short-lived, however, as he ran an early corner wide and series point leader Johnny Greaves rocketed from his fourth place start to first in the blink of an eye.
Greaves’ lead would came to a sudden halt on lap three when he hooked a turn and came to a complete stop with the nose of his truck up against a giant corner-marking tire. Three trucks would cruise past the motionless Greaves, including Scott Douglas, CJ Greaves and Keegan Kincaid.
Douglas’ truck ripped out to the lead, only to suffer an apparent power steering issue causing a pull-off soon thereafter. As a result, CJ Greaves inherited the lead, with Kincaid in second and Johnny Greaves in third through the competition yellow.
Mechanical issues also plagued CJ Greaves, rendering his truck uncompetitive and handing the race lead over to Kincaid. Kincaid continued to run a strong race through the checkers to take his first win of the year despite mechanical challenges.
“The last couple laps the power steering fluid was squirting in my face, so my vision was all blurry,” said Kincaid. “The team kept saying ‘Johnny’s closing in!’ So I just had to keep pushing.”
Johnny Greaves challenged Kincaid’s lead and made it close through the last two turns, but Kincaid was textbook, beating Greaves to the checkers with a masterful setup into the last corner. Hoek rounded out the podium in third place—his first PRO 4 podium finish.
“Getting a podium when you’re running on just passion and a volunteer crew is a great step,” said an emotional Hoek on the podium.
With the second-place finish, Johnny Greaves broke up the tie with his son atop the TORC PRO 4 point standings. Johnny now leads CJ 186-182 after nine rounds.
THRILLING CONTACT IN PRO 2
The day’s most thrilling race came down to some corner contact between Andrew Carlson and TORC PRO 2 series point leader Luke Johnson. Carlson got the better of the situation as Johnson spun and Carlson went on to take the win. This was Carlson’s second PRO 2 win of the three PRO 2 races he has run this season.
“Truck’s [sic] got a bit of a bang on the side,” said Carlson, looking down at the area of his truck following the race where he got tangled with Johnson.
Johnson also remarked on the get-together that, “We were in tight, I was trying to fight back and did everything we could. I am happy to keep the points lead going.”
After successfully pulling the holeshot from the pole position and leading Johnson and Mitch Dorr up Horsepower Hill and out of the first turn, Carlson put his PRO 2 truck on a rail and held the lead through the competition yellow, and eventually the checkers.
Johnson, Dorr, Cody Conrad and Tim Nelson were all chasing Carlson early in the race, but Brad Lovell charged even hotter. Lovell clambered all the way from eighth place to third place by the competition yellow. Lovell would then benefit one spot (third to second) when Johnson spun, and moved up into second place in the overall standings.
“We had a terrible weekend at Bark River (Mich., rounds seven and eight of the TORC Series). And, we had bad luck here at RedBud in qualifying,” said Lovell. “So, we’re really happy to get up here on the podium today.”
Johnson would hold onto his third place finish behind Lovell and Carlson, preserving his overall point lead in TORC PRO 2.
PRESSURE ON PRO LIGHT LEAD BUT CARLSON PERSISTS
Andrew Carlson had the prime starting position in PRO Light, which he parlayed into a holeshot and subsequent green-to-checkers first place finish in TORC’s PRO Light race on Saturday at RedBud, completing the PRO 2/PRO Light sweep.
“I knew the holeshot would be a huge part of this race,” said Carlson. “I knew if I could get out front and run clean, I could do it. This was the best track for PRO Lights all year.”
Carlson’s masterful performance was just waiting to be upset by top-qualifier Cam Reimers, who shadowed Carlson for the entire race but was unable to make a pass for the lead. “We were fast this morning, so was Andrew. And, we were able to reel him in, but it ended up being really tough to get around him,” said Reimers.
With Carlson and Reimers running up front, the Kleiman brothers (Cody and series point leader Kyle) battled closely for the final podium spot. Bumper-to-bumper through almost the entire race, Cody would get the better of his brother, gaining a couple points in the overall podium chase.
VAN EPEREN PROTECTS UTV PRO MOD LEAD
Saturday’s TORC UTV PRO Mod final saw two race leaders—Tim Farr (Can-Am) and Jason Luburgh (Polaris)—exit the race with mechanical issues. Farr reportedly overheated and Luburgh exited in a big puff of blue smoke. Rodney Van Eperen (Yamaha) took advantage of the situation by holding off a fast and furious charge from UTV Pro Stock winner CJ Greaves (Yamaha) and series point leader Kyle Chaney (Can-Am) to take the win. Greaves and Chaney landed in second and third.
“We’ve got a little more motor than CJ. I’m not denying that,” said Van Eperen. “He’s (CJ) the best driver in off-road today, so anytime we can beat him we’re happy.”
Pulling the holeshot was Farr, who controlled the race through the competition yellow. Soon after the restart lap Farr would pull off the track, with Luburgh inheriting the lead, followed by Van Eperen and Greaves. Luburgh would lead the next two laps, until exiting with three laps to go with a mechanical issue.
Van Eperen and Greaves would battle closely through the remainder of the race. Chaney, who was involved in an early-race incident, amazingly came back from fifteenth place at the competition yellow to rejoin the fray. The three would run into lapped traffic on the last lap and tighten up, bumper-to-bumper, before Van Eperen set up and drove off the last turn perfectly winning the drag race up the hill to the checkers. This was Van Eperen’s sixth UTV PRO Mod class win of the season.
GREAVES REMAINS UNSTOPPABLE IN PRO STOCK UTV
CJ Greaves (Yamaha) continued his unbeaten streak (9-0) in UTV PRO Stock class racing, topping fellow Yamaha pilot Zach Martin in a thriller to open the TORC PRO class racing on Saturday at RedBud.
“It was a hard battle. Zach was frickin’ fast today,” said Greaves from the podium. “It came down to one little mistake and we capitalized.”
“You don’t make mistakes when you’re racing against a class act like that. One mistake and you’re done,” added second-place Martin.
Martin, the fastest qualifier, pulled the holeshot and led the race through seven of ten laps. With three to go, Greaves came in hot on Martin on a downhill section. When the leader bobbled in the sand, Greaves struck pulling up alongside Martin before setting him up for the pass in the next corner.
The two racers separated and stayed close through the last turn when Martin showed Greaves a tire and then drag raced him to the checkers. Greaves won by less than half a vehicle length.
Rounding out today’s UTV PRO Stock podium was Jake Lunderby (Yamaha) in third.