Here we go again, y'all... It's Labor Day weekend and that means we're at the Indy 500 of Off-Road racing, Crandon International Raceway in Crandon, Wisconsin. Friday's Labor Day parade in Crandon was packed with off-road race fans for ten blocks through downtown Crandon. They were five to six deep checking out their favorite race vehicle and meeting their favorite driver. "It was great!" exclaimed Steven. "Iv'e never seen as many fans at the parade... I met people from all over the US." Fun... meanwhile, back at the track...
We got our booth set up where we displayed all of our sponsor's products... We had brochures set up on a board so fans could thumb through and get better aquatinted with all of the offerings... Some of the more popular pamphlets were from American Racing, Jack Links, 2004 Toyota Tacoma and Precision Gear... Mike Rouche from Phil's Inc., Jimmy Villacono from American Racing and Tim Smith from Jack Links were all on hand to work the fans for the whole weekend.
It was the strongest field in Pro-Lites division with 24 trucks waiting for the land-rush start at Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. "That's what makes this division so tough. If you have a bad race you will only get one point for starting. That's what happened to us at Dresser at the start of this season and it's been an uphill climb ever since", said [pixel.gif] Federico.
Talking to other racers over the past couple of days, Steven found that the other drivers all agreed that this is the hardest and most nerve-racking start in the whole series. Lee [pixel.gif] O'Donnell said it best. "Take a mogul field from the hardest ski course in the world and lay it flat in front of 24 trucks, then take the banking in turn one at Bristol, but off-camber, were only three, maybe four trucks can make it through... Now, hit it going over 90 miles-an-hour right after they water the track, hold your breath and hope you make it."
SATURDAY'S RACE, ROUND #11
With over 80,000 fans up for the weekend the pressure was on as the Pro-Lites lined up for the start in round #11. From a fan-in-the-stands perspective, you cannot see the start at Crandon... but one can hear highly tuned race engines as the starter climbs the tower, twenty-four strong, alternately doing carb-clearing rev-ups followed by pop-inducing overruns, getting ready for the green flag... The green flies and everyone jumps to their feet, straining to see if their favorite driver appears through the first turn... As the competitors hit the first of three jumps directly in front of the grandstand, the fans witness Federico taking a clean line and racing in the sixth position.
Going in the gravel pit for the first time Steven makes a great move on the outside, braking really late and passing two trucks and finishing the first lap in fourth. Working hard Federico made another move and picked off a couple more. With a yellow flag in the barn jump, leader Donny [pixel.gif] Ponder didn't lift and was black flagged for going too fast through the yellow. At the half-way point [pixel.gif] Kincaid was leading followed closely by Federico. Steven thought he would try his earlier move on Kincaid and out-brake him going into the gravel pit turn. Federico narrates, "As we pulled out of the turn we were neck-n'-neck heading for the biggest jump on the course... it was either now or never... so I put my foot down, held my breath and prayed that I wouldn't break anything!" Well, we flew past Kincaid for the lead but over the next three or four laps it became apparent that something was bent in the front end and eventually Chad Hord and Kyle LeDuc caught up and then passed Federico... Steven really went to work and was able to catch and pass Hord for second place but there was no catching LeDuc... Congarats go out from Team Federico to Kyle for his first win in the Pro-Lite division. With a strong second, we're pumped!
SUNDAY'S RACE, ROUND #12
Steve went over to see his fans in the handicapped section... Every year Steve takes time to visit, sign autographs and give away sponsor's products...
Sunday dawned clear and gorgeous and stayed that way until race-time when 23 Pro-Lite trucks lined up for the land-rush start, the last start of that type for this year. The green flag flew 'an dey was off'... Steven describes what happened next from his perspective... "All I remember is that someone came across the front of my truck and turned me sideways and immediately I got tagged in the rear which straightened me out again. Around me trucks were flying everywhere. As we hit the gravel pit turn yellow flags were flying everywhere and when we got past the finish line the red flag was out. As we headed to the starting line for a re-start I saw four trucks on their lids and two others on their side. Come to find out from my spotter that there was a huge accident in the first turn and lots of damage to a bunch of trucks... It was almost me, I thought... I was right in the thick of it but then someone hit me the second time and straightened me out..."
ROUND #12, start #2
Man, it was De'ja Vu! This time Steven made it through clean but three other drivers didn't. Again two big rollovers and another into the wall...
ROUND #12, start #3
They got it sorted out, and back to the starting area where the green flag flew once again and they all raced into turn one. "I just held my line, kept my foot to the floor and came out in fifth place", said Federico. Making another move in the gravel pit, Steven wound up in third place right behind Art Schmitt. "We diced it up the whole race... Art's been racing for 17 years or so and both our trucks were working great... I tried everything I could... I'd get close to making a pass but the Ingles Supermarkets, Jack Links Toyota just didn't have that extra kick", Steven said.... And third is where we finished...
We were successful in gaining ground in championship points this weekend. We're sitting just thirteen points from second place, thirty shy of the championship. Back when we left Dresser we figured about all we could realistically hope for would be to finish the season in 8th place... but everybody really buckled down and got the job done! Thanks to the whole crew this year. You guys have done a great job. Lets get 'em in New York!!!
We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support... P.F. Chang's, Ingles Super-Markets, Mountain Dew and Pepsi-Cola, Italian Village, Racing Optics, Mechanix Wear, Wilmette Auto Body, Goodyear Tire Company, NAPA Auto Parts Evanston, Phil's Inc.com, American Racing Custom Wheels, Toyota, Venom, Precision Gear, Stoner's Invisible Glass, Jack Link's Beef Jerky and... Steven's family.