The Traxxas TORC Series Presented by Amsoil got its kicks at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL last week. The facility’s dirt oval got a makeover as the infield was transformed into a premier short-course off road racetrack, drawing racers from around the country. Another draw was the TV package, as the Friday night’s racing was broadcast LIVE on SPEED. But to be on TV Friday, the racers first had to survive Thursday night’s on-track battles.
Thursday's evening opened with the Pro Buggy race. Fourteen year-old Traxxas driver Mitchell DeJong hoped to continue his winning ways to make it four in a row. But an errant roof panel caused him to be black-flagged, as TORC officials deemed a missing roof panel a safety concern. He rejoined the fray, but to add insult to injury his engine started to overheat. At that point he elected to retire from the race and was credited with a ninth place finish.
Next up was the Traxxas PRO Light class. Traxxas/Ram/MOPAR driver Andrew Caddell has been a force of nature this year, winning four of six races, and finishing off the podium only once. And this race was no different. Although it appeared a visiting Casey Currie would challenge Caddell, it wasn’t to be. Caddell won handily, with Currie a distant second. Traxxas drivers Keegan Kincaid and Luke Johnson both ran solid races, finishing fifth and eighth, respectively.
Following the Light’s race, in an unusual move for TORC, the PRO 4x4 trucks took to the course. Normally, the big-dog 4x4 race is the marquee event. But special guest PRO 2wd drivers Travis Pastrana, Jolene “Nitrogirl” Van Vugt, and NACAR Camping World Truck racer Matt Crafton made it an easy decision to rearrange things a bit. The PRO 2wd race would be the finale.
In PRO 4x4, Traxxas’ own Mike Jenkins just missed another podium finish. He fought his Traxxas/Ram/MOPAR to a strong fourth place. Teammate and brother Mark Jenkins was a bit farther back, but kept it in the top 10. Scott Douglas took the win, and series points leader Ricky Johnson suffered a flat tire and was relegated to third.
Next out was the race TORC fans had been waiting for. They were ready for some big-time, fender crunching, sideways PRO 2wd action, and that’s exactly what they got! Traxxas sponsored Jeff Kincaid grabbed the holeshot, but a late-race altercation with Traxxas/Ram/MOPAR’s Rob MacCachren put Kincaid out of the lead and into 10th. MacCachren went on to win, with action sports icon Travis Pastrana finishing second. Series veteran Scott Taylor finished third.
"I wasn't really going that fast, but I was trying like hell," said Pastrana to a HUGE round of applause from the Chicagoland Speedway crowd. And when asked to compare TORC Series racing to RallyCross, Pastrana added: "There's a lot more air than RallyCross and you're sideways all the time."
Nitrogirl supporters were to be disappointed. Jolene Van Vugt had rolled her truck multiple times in an earlier practice session. The truck was too damaged to repair, so a sore-but-undamaged Van Vugt had to watch from the sidelines instead of from the driver seat.
After the action, TORC fans were treated to a post-race party in the pits, with a live band, and plenty of interaction with their favorite drivers and teams. There were plenty of broken body panels to be signed!
On Friday, the whole thing started over, with the added excitement of being broadcast live on SPEED!
Mitchell DeJong started mid-pack, but quickly made his way to the front. He defended against a brief charge from the four-wheel-drive buggy of John Frana, but it was short lived. DeJong won the race by a large margin. Keep your eye on this young man. There’s no telling what he’ll end up racing in the future!
In PRO Light Andrew Caddell wasn’t able to pull another win from his bag of tricks. Casey Currie stood atop the podium, while Caddell settled for a close second. Fast privateer Shawn Morris was an ecstatic third. Traxxas drivers Keegan Kincaid and Luke Johnson both had issues and retired early. They finished in 15th and 16th positions, respectively.
In PRO 4x4 it was Mark Jenkins turn to grab fourth place. He charged hard out of the blocks and was contesting for the lead when he rolled his truck over in a sharp right-hand corner. Fortunately he rolled it ALL the way over, landing on his wheels. As Mark put the hammer down and kept going the near-capacity crowd went wild! Mark Jenkins came out on top of a tremendous three-way battle with Mike Jenkins and Adrian Cenni. Mike would end up in sixth. Up front, Ricky Johnson put on a clinic, and while Johnny Greaves would mount a short attack, Johnson’s lead was never in peril. They would finish in that order with Scott Douglas landing in third.
The not-weekend’s grand finale was again the PRO 2wd. Maybe it was because of the live coverage on Speed, but the PRO 2wd racers pulled out all the stops and went at it HARD. Rob MacCachren had a terrific battle with Bryce Menzies. Then-points-leader Chad Hord was also up front looking for the win. Pushing hard, Travis Pastrana rolled his truck onto its side in the same corner that bit Mark Jenkins. The safety crew quickly had him back on his BFGs and Pastrana was able to rejoin the field without losing a lap. He’d close out his race in ninth. Pastrana raced hard and had a great outing for his first time racing the TORC Series. "I love being sideways and I love being in the air. This sport was made for me," he said.
MacCachren was again victorious, notching his 199th career win in off-road racing. He came into Chicagoland sixth in points, and left in first! Chad Hord finished second and Bryce Menzies was third. Traxxas drivers Mike Jenkins and Jeff Kincaid both finished well inside the top ten, landing in seventh and sixth.
The Chicagoland race fans were all treated to two nights of top-notch short course off road racing, and those that couldn’t make it to the track we able to cheer for their favorite drivers during the live broadcast on SPEED. The points chase was rearranged in some classes, and leads extended in others, and on-track battles rages in every race. Did you see it? Are you hungry for more?
Click here to see our comprehsnsive photo gallery filled with race action and behind the scenes coverage from the event.
The next stop for Traxxas TORC is Bark River International Raceway in Upper Michigan, one of the most challenging tracks on the schedule. Come join us as the battle continues August 11-12.
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