Bark River, MI: Traxxas Rocks The River!
The Fastest Name In Radio Control® returned to Bark River Raceway for rounds 9 and 10 of THE Traxxas Off-Road Championship, the nation’s premier short-course racing series and home of the best Pro drivers in all of off-road racing. Wet weather doused the raceway before Saturday’s Round 9 action, but did not damp the enthusiasm of the Traxxas racing team or the 17,000+ racing fans who turned out for the TORC Series’ second stop at Michigan’s beautiful Bark River Raceway.
Long before the wail of 900+ horsepower engines echoed across the meadows of Bark River, the Traxxas crews were hard at work. The racing team was first to arrive, easing the massive, mobile race shop and Traxxas command center into place under the powerful control of Kenworth T660 trucks. In about an hour, a massive awning was deployed and plastic floor tiles snapped into place, transforming what had been a patch of field into a fully equipped race pit. Next to the pit space, a second hauler was unloaded and another awning erected to create the Traxxas VIP Hospitality Area and model display, where race fans got an eyeful of the latest Traxxas models, asked questions, pocketed free catalogs and action DVDs, and even registered to win a Traxxas Slash. The Traxxas pit and VIP area were also hot spots for autograph seekers, and Mike and Mark Jenkins gladly obliged. T-shirts and posters were signed, along with the occasional fender panel retrieved from the racetrack, and many fans went home with a thumbs-up from Mike and Mark on their digital cameras.
The Traxxas Mobile Support Center was on site, as it is at all TORC series events, to support the racers in the TORC R/C Challenge and give all race fans a chance to learn more about high-performance radio control. Fully stocked with Traxxas parts and apparel, and staffed by Traxxas’ knowledgeable customer support team, the Mobile Support Center was a hot spot for the Bark River race fans. In addition to keeping the R/C racers up to speed with parts and service, the Mobile Support Center helped many fans transition from aspiring hobbyists to full-fledged “RC guys.”
Out on the racecourse in the Traxxas Arctic Cat Prowler, team members strategically placed the massive, inflatable Traxxas Slash and TQ transmitter for maximum TV exposure. The 30-foot long truck and 3-story tall transmitter were the centerpiece of the track. Viewed by thousands in Bark River, the inflatables will be seen by millions when the race airs on ESPN 2 Sunday, August 16.
As graders and bulldozers prepared the full-size track, the TORC R/C Challenge track took shape in the pits. After rough shaping with a Bobcat loader, rakes and shovels put the final polish on the layout to create a track worthy of a National event. Two full evenings of racing in three classes allowed racers to test their skill with electric Slash 2WD racing trucks and nitro-powered Slayer 4WD machines. Slash Spec racers ran their trucks “out of the box.” No modifications are allowed, but racers can make changes to the steering and suspension geometry as the fully-adjustable Slash design permits. With equal equipment and horsepower, driving and tuning skill are the only way to win in Slash Spec. Slash Open followed the same essential rules as Slash Spec, requiring Traxxas tires, chassis and suspension parts be used, but allowing unlimited horsepower—the Traxxas Velineon Brushless Power System was a popular choice. The Open class required precise control, as horsepower frequently overcame available traction. The Slayer class drew the largest crowds, as spectators were captured by the scream of 50,000rpm 2-stroke Traxxas racing engines. The Slayers laid down 40 laps of 4WD fury to the cheers of onlookers who lined the track to witness intense R/C competition under the lights.
Traxxas Pro Driver Challenge
After Saturday's Pro 4X4 race, the top TORC drivers made their way to the R/C track for more racing, this time with Traxxas Slashes. Fourteen of the nation's top racers, still in their driving gear, packed onto the drivers' stand for 20 laps of heads-up competition.
The who's-who list included Traxxas' Mike and Mark Jenkins (of course), Rick Huseman, Jeff Kincaid, Scott Taylor, Todd LeDuc, Jeremy McGrath, Rick Johnson, Scott Douglas, Casey Currie, Rob MacCachren and others. The Slashes were outfitted with replica bodies, and on the tone, all fourteen trucks blasted down the straight in traditional land-rush style. Mike Jenkins got the holeshot and lead the first five laps, but a bobble opened the door for Todd LeDuc, who took over the lead and made it stick for a full 15 laps to take the win. All the drivers kept their trucks after the race so they could practice for a rematch in Crandon. It's going to be intense-these guys can wheel! Click here for full coverage of the Traxxas Pro Driver Challenge!
Watching R/C trucks in action on the racetrack left spectators hungry for a chance to try R/C for themselves, which made the Traxxas Try-Me Track a destination for many. A one-dollar donation to the Bark River Lions Club let anyone take a turn at the wheel of the best-selling Traxxas Slash 2WD short-course racing truck. The trucks were set for Training Mode™, an exclusive Traxxas feature that allows even total beginners to enjoy high-performance R/C models like the Slash. The dirt-oval track was easy to navigate for a guaranteed good time, and each lap included two jumps so drivers could catch air and experience the ruggedness of Traxxas R/C vehicles.
For one lucky R/C racer, the Traxxas racing experience went beyond radio control and became an adventure on the full-size racetrack with a three-lap run in the official Traxxas TORC Pace Truck. With over 600 horsepower on tap, a full tube-frame with roll cage, and all the suspension of a Pro 2WD racing truck (which the pace truck was, before a passenger seat was added), this would not be a leisurely jaunt around the racecourse. Every racer registered for the TORC R/C Challenge was also entered in a drawing for the pace truck ride, which also included a Pace Truck edition Traxxas Slash and a full set of Traxxas gear—hat, T-shirt, and hoodie. Bark River’s big winner was Casey Rostad, who took to the track with Luke Johnson, son of legendary motocross racer, TORC co-founder, and current Pro 2WD points leader Ricky Johnson. Casey’s run was recorded by ESPN2 as well as Traxxas R/C Hero on-board cameras, and Casey was given a DVD of the action to share with his friends and family.
Jeff Kincaid Scores Second Consecutive
Pro Light Win, Third Win for the Season!
Traxxas racer Jeff Kincaid is a legend in the Pro Light class, with six championship titles to his name and an ever-increasing likelihood that the first season of TORC racing will see him take his seventh. Now just one point away from first place after his win in Bark River, Jeff and his Traxxas Potawatomi Toyota Tacoma Pro Light are revved to full-throttle as the TORC series hits the halfway point. In Round 9 racing on Saturday, Jeff started in sixth after “the inversion.” By TORC rules, the top six drivers in the last round are “inverted” for the next round. As the winner of Round 8, Jeff was placed on the grid in sixth position. But he would not stay there long; as soon as the pace truck peeled off, Jeff skillfully throttled his Toyota-powered Traxxas machine into third place, and overtook Steven Federico soon thereafter to take second. The chase was on for race leader Marty Hart, who had opened a large gap on the field. Jeff opened a gap of his own as he whittled away Marty’s lead, but conserved his truck knowing the mid-race yellow would close the gap for him. With the field rejoined for the race’s second half, Jeff was faced with the challenge of trying to holeshot into the lead while defending his position. As the green flag came out, the crowd rose to their feet for the dogfight between Kincaid and Hart. Marty held onto his lead as Jeff stayed close and waited for his opportunity. There were a few corners where Jeff could have pushed his way through, but he waited for a clean pass. Maintaining momentum, summoning the full power of his Toyota engine, and balancing on the edge of his BFGoodrich tires, Jeff finally took over the lead with an inside pass just before the white flag came out. Jeff used the final two laps to put a cushion between himself and Marty, and crossed the finish line with another convincing win—his third in the 2009 TORC series. Sunday’s race nearly saw Jeff take a fourth win, as he held the lead on lap nine but suffered a mechanical issue that took him out of the race before the checkered flag flew. However, Jeff scored an Oakley Bomb Run trophy for posting the fastest lap of the race. It was his second Bomb Run for the weekend, as Jeff also posted the fastest lap with his win on Saturday.
Back-To-Back Pro 4X4 Podiums For Rick Huseman!
Pro 4X4 points leader Rick Huseman has five wins to his name in TORC competition, and has podiumed in eight of the ten rounds, most recently taking second place on both days of competition at Bark River and padding his series lead to 19 points over Kyle LeDuc. In Saturday’s Pro 4X4 event, Rick started from sixth but picked up a position on each consecutive lap, putting his Traxxas/Monster Energy Toyota Tundra into third place behind the battling trucks of Kyle LeDuc and Rick’s Monster teammate, Johnny Greaves. In typical Huseman style, Rick ran on the ragged edge of control as he pushed his Pro 4X4 to its limits, nearly spinning off the track but keeping his Traxxas/Monster Energy machine shiny-side up. As the race entered its final lap, Rick was able to pass Johnny Greaves, but not the way he would have liked, as Johnny pulled off the track with his truck ablaze. Smoke poured from the cab as Rick cruised past for second place. In Sunday’s race, Rick launched into fourth place at the start, and joined a bumper-to-bumper battle behind race leader Kyle LeDuc with Steve Barlow in second and Johnny Greaves in third. The top four freight-trained around the track and the air was electric with anticipation of a big move at the front of the field. Rick obliged as Barlow and Greaves went wide in the tight turn behind the Jumbotron, allowing Rick to dig in with a bold inside pass to overtake both drivers in one masterful maneuver. (“That was a good one,” understated Rick later.) Now defending second place while trying to close the gap to LeDuc, Rick pinned the throttle to the floor and put on a display of no-holds-barred driving, at one point flying over the enormous Traxxas jump fully crossed up, expertly countersteering on touchdown to maintain control. As the race continued, Rich defended second place after the mandatory yellow and held off teammate Johnny Greaves as the top three opened a sizeable gap on Steve Barlow and the rest of the field. At the checkered flag, Rick took second place for the second time that weekend—one step lower on the podium than he’s used to, but more than high enough to keep him at the top of the Pro 4X4 leaderboard.
Ken Kincaid Returns to Short-Course Competition In Traxxas Pro 4X4
TORC racing fans are used to seeing Mike Jenkins’ no. 47 Pro 4X4 and Mark Jenkins’ no. 25 Pro 2WD trucks at each stop of the series, but team Traxxas’ return to Bark River saw the debut of a third Traxxas racing machine: the Pro 4X4 of Ken Kincaid. The Kincaid family is legendary in the world of off-road racing, and Ken Kincaid (known as “K2” to many, after his father “K1”), was himself a successful short-course truck racer through the late nineties, and is now the Team Manager for Traxxas. Behind the wheel of a Pro 4X4 and sporting the number 44 as he did during his career, Ken had to throttle back in Saturday’s race to prevent a drivetrain issue from worsening. In Sunday’s race, Ken captured the attention of the Bark River crowd, but not in the way he hoped: after clipping a tire set into the ground as a corner marker, Ken’s Traxxas Pro 4X4 rolled spectacularly before coming to a stop on its roof. To the crowd’s cheers, Ken pulled himself out of the truck and waved to return their support. Although not the outcome he planned, Ken was very positive about his return to short-course racing. “The rollover today probably helped me a little bit, to get into the right mindset. You’re taking chances all the time. I’m not glad I rolled over, but it’s out of the way now.” As for the differences between racing now versus racing in his heyday, Ken quipped, “Everybody’s going a lot faster!” then added more insight. “The suspension has improved a lot, there’s a lot more horsepower, a lot more forward bite in the trucks,” said Ken. Ken will be back in the driver’s seat of his no. 44 Traxxas Pro 4X4 when THE Traxxas Off-Road Championship arrives in Crandon, WI for rounds 11 and 12 of the premier short-course racing series, and the 40th anniversary of the Crandon International Raceway. Don’t miss the action, broadcast LIVE on ABC, September 6!