Traxxas Excitement Energizes Crandon's
September 5, Crandon, WI: Traxxas enjoyed a hugely successful weekend of TORC racing at Crandon International Raceway as the legendary facility celebrated its 40th anniversary of off-road racing and the annual BorgWarner Cup. Traxxas Pro 4X4 racer Mike Jenkins earned his first TORC Series podium as he finished third in Saturday’s Pro 4X4 event, marking his third podium finish in just two years of off-road competition. The race was among the most action-packed of the weekend, and saw three trucks retire after crashes. Mike skillfully used the crashes as an opportunity to pass not only the disabled vehicles, but to also outmaneuver Curt LeDuc and move into third place. Mike’s brother Mark, racing a Pro 4X4 for the first time, also got around LeDuc in the final lap of the race to take fourth place. Mike joined race winner Scott Douglas and second place finisher Chad Hord on the podium and was interviewed on camera for the taped portion of ABC’s live telecast. After his third-place podium finish on Saturday, Mike moved into sixth-place in the TORC series points standings, which put him “into the inversion” for Sunday’s Pro 4X4 race. Per TORC rules, the trucks are gridded according to their position in the points standing—the points leader gets the pole. But in every other round of racing, the top six drivers are “inverted,” so the points leader starts in sixth, the second-place driver starts in fifth, and so on through sixth place, who starts from the pole position. After bumping Steve Barlow to seventh in points on Saturday, “the inversion” put Mike on the pole for Sunday’s Pro 4X4 event. Anticipation was high as the famously enthusiastic Crandon crowd was hyped to the edges of their seats by the announcers and the countdown to green-flag, live-TV racing. At last, the clock zeroed out and the race was on. Like distant thunder, the trucks could be heard but not seen by most fans until the drivers entered turn one. Amid a maelstrom of dirt and dust, Mike Jenkins’ no. 47 Pro 4X4 roared into view, drifting perfectly and leading out the full field with a commanding holeshot. Suddenly, the sliding truck caught traction and “bicycled” violently, tipping onto two wheels. Mike countersteered to regain control and got the truck back on all fours, but the correction caused the truck to swing left in a hard collision with a guard rail that launched the no. 47 machine into the air and directly toward the infield pond. Mike steered left in an effort to avoid it, but the front tires were “light” on the unsettled suspension and could not find traction. With little traction available to steer or slow the speeding machine, Mike could only hold on as his truck collided with the pond’s safety barrier in a jarring head-on wreck. Incredibly, Mike was not injured and walked away from the incident without assistance. Likewise, his Pro 4X4 racing truck emerged with remarkably little damage considering the tremendous impact it endured. “We bent the two upper suspension arms, punctured a bypass tube on the right front shock and kicked out the rear drive shaft,” explained Jenkins as he surveyed the damage in the pits. “Otherwise, it was just a front bumper, body mounts and fiberglass.”
Traxxas Pro Light driver Jeff Kincaid enjoyed back-to-back wins at Crandon, including his victory in the 40th BorgWarner World Championship on Sunday, making Jeff a seven-time Pro Light champion. Jeff took the holeshot in Friday’s race and lead every lap, but a broken spindle on the while-flag lap took him out of the race. It was literally a tough break, but Jeff kept his perspective. ‘"If we're going to break, tonight's the night we want to break, and we'll go get those championship points tomorrow. We're ready!" And ready he was, as Jeff won convincingly on Saturday and Sunday by taking the lead on the opening lap and never looking back as he stretched out his lead all the way to the checkered flag.
After Saturday’s final race on the full-size track, the Traxxas Off-Road Championship’s top drivers once again exchanged their full-size racing machines for radio-controlled Traxxas Slash racing trucks as the second round of the Traxxas TORC Pro Driver R/C Challenge came to Crandon International Raceway. Driving on a miniature version of the Crandon racetrack, each driver wheeled a custom replica of his full-size machine. Just as they did for Round 1 in Bark River, MI, the drivers raced in their fire suits so the fans who lined the track to see their off-road heroes could get the full pro-driver visual experience. The who’s-who list included all the brightest stars of TORC, including Rick Johnson, Jeremy McGrath, Rick Huseman, Scott Douglas, Casey Currie, Brian Deegan, Todd and Kyle LeDuc, Rob McCachren, Johnny Greaves, Scott Taylor, Dan VandenHeuvel, and of course, Traxxas drivers Jeff Kincaid and Mike and Mark Jenkins. All fifteen Traxxas Slash 2WD racing trucks were lined up side by side for the land-rush start, just like as the full size trucks do for the TORC races at Crandon. On the start tone, Miller Welding’s Scott Taylor bolted to the front, but he could not outrun Rockstar/Makita’s Kyle Leduc. Kyle swept the field and took the win in the 20-lap race, earning a spot for his name on the official Traxxas TORC Pro Driver R/C Challenge cup. Kyle’s inscription joins that of brother Todd, who won the first cup race in Bark River. The cup will be on display in the LeDuc Rockstar/Makita pit in Perris, CA, Sept 25-26, where the drivers of TORC will again meet on the R/C track. At the TORC series finale in Las Vegas, the overall champion will be crowned and presented with the Championship Cup. After the race, the drivers took their places for the TORC Pro Pit Party hosted by Traxxas. Race fans took advantage of the unique opportunity to meet their favorite drivers for autographs, snapshots, handshakes and souvenirs. By all accounts, the drivers enjoyed meeting the fans just as much as the fans enjoyed meeting the drivers, and everyone in the large crowd was able to enjoy face time with their favorite racers. The upcoming TORC events in Perris, CA and Las Vegas will also host Pro Pit Parties, with souvenirs, posters, decals, and more for all. Don’t miss it!
Over 40,000 race fans packed the grandstands and hillsides of Crandon International Raceway in anticipation of the close racing, screaming engines, and high impact excitement of the TORC series, but they were also treated to the first appearance of a technological breakthrough from Traxxas, The Fastest Name In Radio Control.® Well known for innovative, high-performance R/C cars and trucks, Traxxas debuted the ultimate in R/C: a full-size, fully-operational Pro Light racing truck driven entirely by radio control! A month before the race, Traxxas engineers flew to Wisconsin to complete their unique mission. Unlike R/C stunts with full-size cars occasionally seen on television, this was to be a durable, fully-engineered vehicle that could perform repeatedly and reliably. In addition, the truck had to remain operable by an on-board driver, so it could be easily transported and maneuvered in situations inappropriate for radio control running. And, above all, it had to match the high performance of a Pro Light racing truck. To that end, the core of the project was a race-proven truck previously campaigned by rising Pro Light star Casey Currie. Packing long-travel suspension, a tube frame, and over 350 horsepower just as it did in competition, all the capability of the Pro Light machine was retained for the R/C “model.” Given the short schedule for the project, the engineering team had to adapt off-the-shelf components as much as possible. Industrial servos that were strong enough to steer the truck proved too slow to provide the responsiveness required for the racetrack, so the team cleverly devised a gear system to increase the servos’ speed. The steering proportion had to be carefully adjusted as well, to preserve the right “feel” when operating a full-size steering wheel with lock-to-lock travel much greater than that of the R/C steering wheel. For braking, a special actuator was developed that allowed brake pressure to be modulated instead of just brake travel, so the feel the driver expects could be duplicated via radio control. And of course, redundant, independent fail-safe and disabling systems for safety were a must. The design team maintained a nearly around-the-clock schedule to develop and test all the components and systems, and used every minute available. The final step was securing a ten-foot tall antenna to the truck, to make sure the crowd could identify it as a radio- controlled machine. Finally, on the Friday evening before its Saturday debut, the first-ever Traxxas R/C Pro Light racing truck hit the dirt for its shakedown run. In the capable hands of Pro 4X4 points leader Rick Huseman, the truck thundered onto the track under radio control. Rick first drove the truck from the driver’s seat, using an R/C transmitter to operate the controls so he could gain a feel for the truck’s responsiveness. Then Rick drove the truck from trackside, comfortable on the sidelines as the truck took the bumps and jolts Rick would normally be subjected to. Rick drove tentatively at first, but within minutes began to thrash on the truck, doing donuts and ripping up and down the track. Big or small, nothing’s more fun than Traxxas R/C! On Saturday evening, the Traxxas R/C Pro Light made its TORC debut in a solo demonstration, driven once again by Rick Huseman. Rick drove with authority, just as he does when he’s in the car himself, and the crowd applauded as the driverless Pro Light navigated the track, the steering wheel turning by itself, as though an invisible driver were in command. In addition to driving by “line of sight,” Rick also demonstrated “virtual driving” as he commanded the R/C Pro Light from a skybox suite. Within the darkened room, Rick watched a video image transmitted from the driver’s seat of the R/C truck, and successfully operated the truck as though he was sitting behind the wheel himself. This feat of electronic engineering was a real challenge for the design team, as the normal delay inherent in digital video transmission had to be eliminated in order for the driver to react appropriately to the truck’s movements. In addition to the audience at Crandon, millions at home saw the Traxxas breakthrough live on ABC. It was an R/C first that will be remembered for years to come, and the type of innovation that could only come from Traxxas, The Fastest Name In Radio Control® Perhaps we’ll all get to drive a 350hp R/C truck one day!