Oshkosh Off-Road Festival - TORC Sportsman Short Course Racing at Its Best! Oshkosh, WI (July 29, 2010) - Crandon may be the "Big House" but after the two evenings of racing at the Oshkosh Speedzone this past weekend, the off-road world ...
Oshkosh Off-Road Festival - TORC Sportsman Short Course Racing at Its Best!
Oshkosh, WI (July 29, 2010) - Crandon may be the "Big House" but after the two evenings of racing at the Oshkosh Speedzone this past weekend, the off-road world can't stop talking about the country's newest stop on the 2010 Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL schedule. The standing room only crowds experienced some of the best non-stop door to door action short course off-road racing had to offer. When Ricky Johnson described TORC off-road racing as a combination of Supercross and Ultimate Fighting all on four wheels, the Oshkosh Off-Road Festival is exactly what he had in mind. The PRO drivers put on an incredible show, but the Sportsman competitors put on an opening act that will be hard to duplicate.
The two day TORC event began with uncertainty as over eight inches of rain covered the Fox Valley area the day before the event. Undaunted, USAC and race promoters Vanden Heuvel and Flanagan went to work draining the Winnebago County Fairgrounds and the .5 mile circle track that would host the third stop of the 2010 TORC World Tour.
While the track work was progressing, the weather cleared up in time for the Thursday evening Pit Party sponsored by the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery. The Tilted Kilt girls from the Oshkosh locale were there serving free samples of their fine restaurant fare, as wel asl posing for photos and offering discount coupons for the establishment.
Remarkably the track was in top shape thank to the endless efforts of Mike and Brad Arndt, the Speedzone's Mike Rabe, and USAC's Jeff Norstrom. When the first group of Sportsman racers hit the track early Friday evening the track surface held just enough moisture to eliminate any dust problems and offer the competitors excellent traction.
Unfortunately the campgrounds were waterlogged preventing most of the teams from setting up camp near the race track. Considering the torrential downpour, every team was just glad the racing was to go on as scheduled.
Speaking of schedule, the moisture in the track needed as much time as possible to dissipate, so USAC officials, to no one's surprise, cancelled practice.
While the track was drying out, the line of cars and trucks at the fairground entrance was continually getting longer and longer. Eventually the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department began assisting traffic at the closest intersection about a half mile away. As the off-road fans made their way to the grandstands, the Vendor Midway greeted everyone with companies representing practically every aspect of the off-road and truck community. The scene made for an incredible event.
Before the PRO truck competitors made it to the track, a large contingent of Sportsman racers, ninety-one drivers, representing eight different divisions had their time on the track.
TORC Sportsman Round 7
The first race of Friday evening was the combined Classix and Formula 4x4 event. Both classes had their largest turnout of the year. The large number of racers also put on their best performances of the season as well. In the Classix race, it came down to veterans Rob Weiland and Dale Chestnut. Weiland took his second TORC win of the year, as points leader Dale Chestnut finished second, and Jeremy Forbes finished third in his first race of the season.
The Classix division saw Snow Dogg Snow Plows add to the festivities by awarding the podium finishers Wilson, Chestnut, and Forbes cash bonuses during the trophy presentation.
At the same time the Formula 4x4 racers were well represented as Brad Lemarche had his retro Ford Ranger out for his first full weekend of racing. Brad didn't disappoint as he dominated the field. In second was Ben Passa in his Chevy El Camino bodied 4x4, and Milan Mazanec came home in third in the Ford F-150.
The Light Buggy contingent was next as nineteen limited single seat buggies attacked the .8 mile off-road course. Starting from well back in the field, Matt Gerald in his Sticker Dude Wornstar Buggy took the win, as Maxxis' Matt Ashauser held on to second, Holtger Motorsports driver Craig Paitl grabbed the final spot on the podium.
The Enduro Trucks were next. This is another great division to get one's feet wet in short-course off-road racing. The reason; you can take an Enduro Truck, race it for a time, and then upgrade the modifications to compete in the Super Stock Truck class.
The race came down to a battle of "Young Guns," Brent Smith and Chris Bowser. The two racers had a similar battle during Round 5 in Bark River. Once again it was Smith first, Bowser second, and veteran Bob Birkholz third.
Some of the best Single Buggy racers in the country lined up for the stadium style battle. Early on, Nebraska's John Fitzgerald held the top spot only to be challenged by Lower Michigan's Jeff Villemure and the Upper Peninsula's "Iron Mulisha" member Brad Erickson. After some jockeying back and forth, the winner was Jeff Villemure, with Erickson second, and Fitzgerald third.
The first of the Heavy Metal Hitters, Super Stock Truck, lined up twelve strong. The front runners of the class started in the back half of the field. It looked like Mitch Dorr and his Fabricated Steel Ford would hold off Eric Ruppel and his Phil's Inc Ford for the win, but a last corner pass by Ruppel took the win, followed closely by Dorr, as points leader and "Iron Mulisha" member Scott Beauchamp finished third.
The high flying Super Buggy class also had its largest field of the year as Bob Klaus became the fifth different winner this season. Steve Krieman in his Phil's Inc. VW powered buggy as the runner-up, and CJ Greaves recovered to bring his Traxxas Super Buggy across in third.
The final Sportsman race of the evening, was a another battle between Dan Baudoux in his Teamtech Motorsports Ford and Mike Vanden Heuvel in the Flanagan's Stop n Shop Chevy. Vanden Heuvel took the win followed by Baudoux and Michael Baker.
After all the Sportsman and PRO racing was complete, the rains came once again, but not as severe as Thursday afternoon. Needless to say, Saturday afternoon practice was cancelled as well. When Sportsman Round 8 racing began, USAC had the track in perfect condition.
TORC Sportsman Round 8
The Saturday evening crowd was even larger than the night before as the Classix race saw new faces on the TORC Sportsman podium. Crandon's Bill Wilson stood on the highest step on the box, followed by Jeremy Forbes, with Shawn Tingley rounding out the Top-3.
Once again Snow Dogg Snow Plows stepped up and awarded the podium finishers a nice bonus for their great performances at the Oshkosh Speedzone.
The Formula 4x4 race saw Brad Lemarche take the win once again, followed by Ben Passa, with current points leader Dave Miah in third.
The Light Buggy race was a repeat of Round 7. As Matt Gerald took the win, but not before spinning out twice, as Matt Ashauer was the runner up. The final spot on the podium was the #100 Holtger Motorsports, but this time around Bryan Holtger was behind the wheel. The third place finisher shares driving chores with his brother in law Craig Paitl. With either Craig or Bryan at the wheel, Holtger Motorsports can't go wrong.
Enduro Trucks was a near repeat performance from the night before. This round Brock Smith (teammate to brother Brent) led the charge to the finish with Chris Bowser and Bob Birkholz right in the wake of the Smith Bros. Chevy.
The Single Buggy ranks saw John Fitzgerald finally get back to his winning ways as Jeff Villemure continued his weekend with a solid second place. Brad Erickson moved down a spot to take a well deserved third place. The Single Buggy class consistently offers some of the most competitive off-road racing week after week.
The Super Stock Truck race saw Dan Beauchamp grab the lead and then rollover without ever relinquishing the lead. His cousin, Scott Beauchamp quickly moved into the second spot as the two Escanaba, Michigan natives went door to door. Unfortunately, the damage Dan suffered from the rollover eventually slowed his pace. This left Scott to hold off a late charging Mitch Dorr for the win, as Eric Ruppel rounded out the top three.
The "F-1" of short-course off-road racing was next on the schedule. Steve Krieman had a dominating performance in his Bertils VW powered Super Buggy. Second place was the night before winner, New Jersey's Bob Klaus, as Wisconsin's Scott Schwalbe finished third.
The final Sportsman race of the weekend saw the Limited 2 Baudoux/Vanden Heuvel battle renew itself. This time both trucks didn't make it to the finish. The final two laps saw a great race between Michael Baker and Rhonda Konitzer. Both racers grabbed the lead from each other more than once in the brief timeframe. When the checkered flag waved Baker had about a two foot advantage over Konitzer. Bob Gremler finished on the podium for the first time after joining the ranks at Crandon. When the racers reached the podium, the crowd went wild showing their appreciation for a well fought race.
Just before 11pm the PRO-4x4 race ended as the huge crowd headed home or back to their campers, while talk about next year's event had already begun. Whether you were a Sportsman or a PRO competitor, everyone went home with a smile on their face.
Later that night there was talk about having two weekends of racing at the Oshkosh Speedzone, but like the promoter's were saying, let's get this event wrapped up before anyone gets ahead of themselves. Regardless the buzz around the Winnebago Fairgrounds and the Oshkosh Off-Road Festival was overwhelmingly positive.