By Nancy Schilke - Motorsport.com
Bark River, Michigan is a quiet little community nestled in the southwest section of the Upper Peninsula. Not far from Escanaba - one of the largest cities in the U.P. - and close to the Wisconsin border. The northern portion of Lake Michigan is nearby which allows for a cool breeze. After the recent heat wave in the Midwest, the cool temperatures are a welcome sight to the organizers, Championship Off-Road Racing officials, drivers, teams and fans. To prepare for the event, the track officials spent the last three weeks watering the course every night due to the Michigan month-long drought.
Bark River is a natural terrain off-road course built specifically for off-road racing over 25 years ago by the owners, Bark River Lions Club. Over the years, improvements have been made to the facility. The one and one-half mile track is laid out to preserve the hilly terrain; the jumps incorporate natural hills and man-made graded jump mounds. The corners are wide which allows for passing. The backside of the track is the location for the hot pits, staging area and a long straight leading to a sweeping turn. The main hill is the jump which when taken correctly can put an off-road vehicle in the air for at least 20 feet and sometimes over 150 feet during competition. The front section incorporates the start/finish line and is the only off-road short-course track where the start of each race has the vehicles aimed directly at the fans and main grandstand. This is a track the fans can enjoy - sitting or standing on a massive hill overlooking the front and back sections or in the main grandstands.
On Saturday, August 11th and Sunday, August 12th, this small commmunity who opens their doors and hearts to the Exxon SuperFlo Championship Off-Road Racing series will host Round 11 and Round 12. Earlier this year, they hosted Round 7 and Round 8 of the championship series.
Sportsman 2 driver, Andy Morter, stated that "Bark River is one of the fast-tracks on the circuit and easy on the equipment because of the natural terrain." Morter is currently in second place in the points behind Mike Oberg.
Friday is a day for the fans. The fans attend the special events for free on Friday. The events consist of two rounds of pre-runs by the eight classes. Even though each vehicle can only do 3-laps, they go all out to entertain the fans. There is plenty of action with the passing, jumping, tight cornering, and wide drifting. Several of the drivers on the final lap will set-up for a practice start which really grabbed the attention of the over 2,000 fans.
After the pre-runs, the 3rd Annual Long Jump Competition. The record holder, Rob MacCachren - Pro 4 Ford F-150, with a jump in August 2000 of 185 feet. The competition is held on the natural terrain hill coming off the back section. This year, MacCachren was unable to participate due to a transmission-overheating problem during the final pre-run round. First up was Gary Nierop in a Super Buggy. After the Super Buggy competitors, the truck classes attempted the jump. Normally, the trucks due to their horsepower win the competition. This year, the contest was won by Curt LeDuc in his Pro 4 Ford F-150 which a jump at 179 feet. LeDuc put on a show afterwards for the fans at the winner's area by doing several donuts. Once the dust cleared, the fans could see LeDuc standing on the truck with his fist in the air. MacCachren still holds the record. The fans enjoyed a concert after the competition.
Results of the Long Jump results:
1. Curt LeDuc - Pro 4 - 179 feet
2. Jason Baldwin - Pro 4 - 173 feet
3. Kevin Probst - Pro 2 - 171 feet
4. Dan Baudoux - Sportsman 2 - 170 feet
5. Dan Vanden Huevel - Pro 2 - 168 feet
6. Carl Renezeder - Pro 2 - 149 feet
6. John Greaves - Pro 4 - 149 feet
8. J. R. Wheeler - Pro Lite - 140 feet
9. Kent Brascho - Pro 4 - 137 feet (Rookie)
10. Rick Huseman - Pro Lite - 135 feet
11. Steve Federico - Pro Lite - 125 feet (Rookie)
12. Mark Kleiman - Sportsman Stock - 115 feet
13. Cory Heynen - Super Buggy - 107 feet
14. Art Schmitt - Pro Lite - 106 feet
15. Herman Barnum - Super Buggy - 102 feet
16. Gary Nierop - Super Buggy - 100 feet
NOTE: Rookie driver Robert Cryderman in Sportsman 2 class is here at his first CORR race and first long jump competition. Due to problems during the pre-runs, Cryderman may not participate in the first races (round 11) on Saturday.