Traxxas returned to Bark River Raceway as the TORC series entered the second half of the season, and once again Michigan’s fastest short-course R/C racers turned out for two full nights of exciting competition under the lights with Traxxas Slash electric trucks and nitro-burning Slayer racing machines. Sanctioning body RC Pro supports each race in the series with a pro-built track, electronic scoring, professional announcing, pit space with power…all the accoutrements of any top-flight racing program. As always, skill was required to win an official TORC plaque, awarded to the top three drivers in each class. But to win the weekend’s biggest prize, only luck was required! In addition to free access to the pits and a seat in the stands for the full-size TORC series action, each racer registered for the TORC R/C Challenge was also entered in a free drawing for a ride in the Traxxas TORC Pace Truck, on the actual Bark River racecourse! It’s a standard feature of the TORC R/C program, so don’t miss your chance if the TORC series comes near your town!
Friday Night Race Action
Drivers have full access to the R/C track all day, so by the time qualifying begins, all the drivers are tuned up and ready to rock for the evening’s action. Slash Spec saw familiar faces in the top three, as the nearly unbeatable Gould Brothers Racing Team once again swung their transponders around the pipes faster than anyone else. Regulars on the Midwest legs of the TORC circuit, Blaine and Tanner took over Slash Spec as Tanner TQ’d and won, with brother Blaine in second on the same lap, 13 seconds behind. Although he didn’t get the holeshot, Tanner moved into first position by the third lap and never looked back. Brother Blaine did get the holeshot, but proved that racers aren’t won in the first turn as the field shook him out to fifth. The closely-matched Slash trucks don’t afford anyone a horsepower advantage, but Blaine’s careful, consistent driving put him into second place by lap six, and that’s where he stayed. Keeping Blaine on his toes was Mike Villemure, another TORC regular, who finished third with 19 laps.
The midwest regulars met a new challenger in Bark River, as Kendall Welch put on a powerful performance to TQ the class. After the dust cleared from the land-rush start, Kendall found himself in second but quickly picked off Randy Villemure to move into the lead. For the final 16 laps of the 20-lap race, it was all Kendall as he opened a two-lap gap on the field. Randy Villemure held onto second with an unchallenged 18-lap run and a full lap on third-place driver Quinn Konitzer.
Nothing brings the crowd like the scream of Traxxas TRX 3.3 Racing Engines, and as expected, throngs of Bark River locals pressed against the track barriers as the 50+mph Slayers warmed up under the lights for 40 laps of full-throttle fun. Troy Konitzer TQ’d the class, but had his work cut out for him as Jeff Ives dogged him on every turn. The two drivers traded positions no fewer than ten times, until Troy finally made his lead stick for good for the final 10 laps of the race, ultimately holding Jeff to 39 laps. Terry Miller finished third with 32 laps, two laps ahead of the rest of the field.
Saturday Night Race Action
Friday’s Slash Open winner, Kendall Welch, proved he can put down fast Spec laps as well by TQ’ing Saturday’s race, besting the famously fast team of Tanner and Blaine Gould. In the lead by lap three, Kendall slammed the door on the field with a non-stop run for the checkers. Blaine lead out brother Tanner as the three fastest racers freight-trained around the track, but not even they could stay on the same lap as Kendall. As he crossed the line to finish his twentieth lap and end the race, Blaine and Tanner put in their nineteenth to round out second and third.
Kendall Welch scored his second TQ Slash Open TQ of the weekend, but there would be no tone-to-tone victory this time. After jumping out to the early lead, Kendall found himself on the pipes and at the back of the field on lap five. Kendal steeled his nerves and methodically worked his way back up to the leaders and eventually cracked the top three, but not before Randy Villemure could notch his twentieth lap and the win. Second place finisher Don Sallenback was the only other driver in the Main to post twenty laps, and finished thirteen seconds behind Randy.
They say old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill, but Saturday night’s Slayer race proved otherwise as young Paul Johnson and Max Cramer bested old-timer (relatively speaking) Eric Bobber. Max was the TQ and was on a tear for the entire Main, with a holeshot on the tone and blazing fast lap times that put him firmly out in front. But to finish first you must first finish, and Max suffered a heart-breaking flame-out on the penultimate lap. Paul Johnson cruised through his fortieth lap to end the race and take the win. Third-place finisher Eric Bobber joined Gabe Johnson and Glen Mathews on the DNF list, but Eric’s 26 laps were still enough to earn him third place.
Pace Truck Ride Winner
Every registered racer at each TORC R/C Challenge is automatically entered in a random drawing for a chance to win a ride in the Traxxas TORC Pace Truck, and Bark River’s big winner was Casey Rostad. Casey suited up in Nomex and a full-face helmet and strapped in with Stock Truck racer Luke Johnson, son of Pro 2WD points leader Rick Johnson (whom many of you may know as a motocross and Supercross legend back in the 80s). Luke poured it on for three laps around the wide-open Bark River circuit, airing it out over the Traxxas jump and sliding through the turns at race pace. ESPN cameras filmed his laps as Traxxas R/C Hero onboard cams recorded the action from within the cockpit, and the footage was later edited together on a DVD so Casey could replay his ride for friends and family. You could be the next ride winner—sign up for the TORC R/C Challenge today!