luke_johnson_crandon_7_8_13The 2013 TORC Series presented by AMSOIL has been a non-stop battle in the Pro Buggy class for Luke Johnson.  Luke’s been duking it out with some of the top short course buggy drivers in the class all season, simultaneously dealing with the harsh weather conditions that have cursed each track so far.  This past weekend at Crandon International Raceway was no different.  Luke put on a show for “The Big House” and earned his fifth straight win in Pro Buggy and more impressively his first career win at Crandon International Speedway.

Having skipped out on a quick trip back to his home base in Southern California after Bark River, Luke headed straight for Crandon and prepped his vehicle for one of the sports biggest stages.  Track conditions were unfavorable, as sporadic storms rolled through Wisconsin.  Practice on Friday was called off and track officials granted Saturdays qualifying only one lap.  After that practice lap, Luke decided to take a gamble that in the end would earn him another trip to the first place podium.

R2C-TORC-Bark-River-6-25-13Vernon Hills, IL – The Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL opened its 2013 Sportsman racing season last week in Bark River, Michigan and R2C Competition Filters dominated the competition in the Super Stock Truck division. The conditions throughout the two days of competition ranged from wet and muddy to dry and dusty as R2C equipped racers found the top spot on the podium during both days of competition.

The TORC Super Stock Truck division features stock chassis light duty trucks with significant modifications. The trucks feature high modified V-8 powerplants and longer travel suspension. The races are only fifteen to twenty minutes long, but the drivers push their trucks to their limits and beyond. It’s almost like racing the Baja 1000 in twenty minutes.

Frana-TORC-Off-Road-6-19-13Loves Park, IL (June 19, 2013) – After a great weekend at the MAORA event in Marengo, Indiana, John Frana and his team headed to back to the TORC Series and Bark River, Michigan to a track that has been a favorite of the #907 AWD PRO Buggy. The team from Northern Illinois did not disappoint as the RCV Performance/”the Official” Brand Name Prescription Card/Sway-A-Way/Frana Vehicles Honda-powered AWD PRO Buggy landed on the podium twice during the three race weekend.

All the TORC PRO teams were scheduled to race Friday evening due to the one round of racing that was postponed due to rain at Eldora Speedway. This meant practice, qualifying and racing would last late into the evening. Fortunately with the summer solstice just a few days away, sundown wouldn’t be until 10pm.

Klieman-TORC-Off-Road-4-19-13Wilson, MI (April 19, 2013) – After a nine year hiatus from off-road racing, Mark Kleiman reentered the world of TORC short-course off-road racing and immediately  grabbed the attention several veteran PRO-Light competitors. After knocking the rust off his driving on Friday , the former  three-time Sportsman Super Stock Truck Champion just missed finishing on the podium during Saturday’s PRO-Light eighteen lap feature.

The journey back to short-course racing began just after the first of the year, when Mark purchased Ross Hoek’s podium proven Ford Ranger Pro-Light. Unfortunately living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, off-season testing just isn’t possible due to extreme cold temperatures and serious piles of snow.  So when it came to any testing, it consisted of a couple of minutes driving up and down the road in front of his house just before the race truck was loaded into the trailer for the eighteen hour trip to the TORC season opener in Kansas.

Scott-Douglas-TORC-4-17-13El Cajon, CA -The 2013 Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL saw Douglas Motorsports bring a brand new PRO-4 race truck to the season opening event in Dodge City, Kansas. Scott Douglas and his team have put high expectations on themselves and if the racing in the high plains of Kansas are any indication, the AMSOIL Borla Exhaust BFGoodrich Tire Ford F-150 are the early favorites for the PRO-4×4 Championship.

The offseason not only saw the team designing and building a brand new race truck, but just after the first of the year, Douglas Motorsports moved its operation into a new race facility. The move was completed just in time for the team to head across country for a test session in Primm, Nevada. In 2012, Douglas Motorsports made the move to a Goodwin Competition powerplant and implementing a manual transmission, and the upcoming season will see the new truck depend on King Shocks to handle the varying track conditions of the TORC series.

The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) heads to Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix this weekend for the final race of the season where the Pro2 Unlimited championship will be decided.  After Rob MacCachren suffered a disappointing weekend in Las Vegas, where he was absent from the podium for the first time of any LOORRS racing weekend this season, he has slipped to third in points behind rivals Brian Deegan and Marty Hart.  Never one to give up, MacCachren intends to put the ROCKSTAR Energy Drink / Makita Tools / BFGoodrich Tires / TRAXXAS team back on podium for the eighth time this season.  Following the final Round 15 of racing on Saturday, both the Pro2 and Pro4 trucks will take to the track for the $30,000 Lucas Oil Off Road Cup. MacCachren is famous for his performances in cup races, with three Governor’s Cups, three Borg-Warner Cups to his credit and a victory at the TORC Chairman’s Cup earlier this season.

Freehold, NJ (September 6, 2012) – After a roller coaster ride of a season, Bob Klaus was looking to end the season on a high note. Finishing well both days would secure second place in the championship and give Bob and his crew chief Tim Craley some satisfaction for their perseverance during the 2012 TORC season.

Friday afternoon saw the Racer Engineering built #26 BFGoodrich Tire equipped Toyota powered PRO Buggy qualify fourth fastest among the thirteen racers that made the trip to Crandon International Off-Road Raceway.

The 1.6 mile long Crandon track had a few new elements added to its layout. The front straightaway jumps were replaced with two table top jumps and a downhill jump was incorporated into the skybox back stretch.

Auburn Hills, Mich. — With the 2012 season quickly winding down for Mopar® and Ram Truck drivers in the Traxxas TORC (The Off-Road Championship) Series, it’s go-time as just two events remain in the battle for the championship in each of the three PRO Classes. The title fight will resume this weekend, Aug. 31–Sept. 2, at the legendary Crandon International Off-Road Raceway in Wisconsin, with the running of the World Championship Off-Road races.

Andrew Caddell (PRO Light) and Ricky Johnson (PRO 4) have each won a series-best six races in their Mopar Ram trucks heading into the event at Crandon. Rob MacCachren and Bryce Menzies have each been victorious three times in PRO 2. In addition to the originally scheduled two rounds of competition at Crandon, the PRO 2 and PRO 4 classes will contest an additional race on Friday, Aug. 31, which is the completion of an event that was postponed by rain in June.

Freehold, NJ – Bob Klaus took home his third PRO Buggy victory of the year in the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL. The #26 BFGoodrich Tire equipped Toyota powered PRO Buggy opened the Chicagoland event by edging out the competition winning Round 7 in front of a near sellout crowd.

The East Coast resident has been competing in the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL for the past three seasons, and is one of the top competitors in the division. Between TORC events, the race team stores their rig at fellow competitor, Scott Schwalbe’s business in Northern Wisconsin. During the season all the prep work is done by Bob and his crew chief Tim Craley. All the commuting between home, the team’s temporary home in Wisconsin, and to the race tracks have definitely paid dividend for the team.

Holland, MI (July 24, 2012) – A strong run in Round 8 w as just what the doctor ordered for Ross Hoek and his #21 Ignite Racing Fuels/Venom Energy/Allstar Performance Ford. TORC’s third visit to the dirt track at Chicagoland Speedway in as many years, brought out not only a stellar PRO-Light field of racers, but a near capacity crowd of spectators packed the grandstands both nights. Ross Hoek and the rest of his PRO-Light competitors did not disappoint as both of their rounds of racing were some of the most competitive and entertaining of the year.

The race track was much different than in past years. The layout was much more technical which lead to more passing zones and a greater emphasis on driver and suspension setup and less on horsepower. Along with seven jumps that were placed throughout the track and very challenging infield section included a tabletop, a rhythm section and a field of moguls all lined up one after the other.

Thursday – Round 7

Thursday afternoon qualifying saw the orange #21 Ford fight fuel pickup issues putting Ross at the back of the seventeen truck starting lineup. Ross realized the only way to challenge for a spot on the podium would be to make bold moves throughout the fifteen lap race. One of those moves happened before the start of the race. A unique tire combination was mounted on the race truck. The race track held a fair amount of moisture thanks to a passing thunderstorm from the night before, so Ross decided to run a tire setup similar to a sprint car in order to take advantage of the conditions.

When the green flag was waved it looked like the tire gamble was working. The first four laps saw the #21 Ignite Racing Fuels/Venom Energy/Allstar Performance Ford pass seven competitors moving into eighth place. Then the unexpected happened, a rain cloud passed over the track and steady rain fell during the middle portion of the race. Now the track became very slippery and Ross had his hands full as the tire choice was not working in his favor. When the checkered flag was waved, Ross Hoek finished eleventh.

“Right from the start we had a great tire package,” noted Ross Hoek. “I took a gamble and it looked like it would pay off. The rain shower during the race wasn’t expected, but that was all it took for our gamble to backfire. Besides that issue our truck ran great, and tomorrow night will have a better outcome.”

Friday – Round 8

Based on the previous night’s performance, Ross lined up eleventh on the starting grid. Confident with his race truck’s chassis set-up, Hoek quickly moved up three positions by the third lap. Getting further up the running order, the team knew it would be very important to be patient, yet be aggressive at the right time. The strategy worked as the #21 Ignite Fuels gradually picked up three more spots as the laps wound down. At the checkered flag, Ross Hoek crossed the finish line in fifth place.

“Tonight we had a great run from start to finish,” commented Ross Hoek. “Starting well back in the field really makes it a challenge to get on the podium. Hope all the fans watching on SPEED and all those that packed the grandstands enjoyed our race, I know I had a blast tonight. After all is said and done our Ignite Racing Fuels/Venom Energy/Allstar Performance Ford can challenge for a podium spot every time out. We are really looking forward to getting back to the wide open spaces of Bark River and Crandon.”

Next Race: August 11-12, 2012 @ Bark River Off-Road Raceway in Bark River, Michigan.

– Mike Reusche, words & pic

– Mike Roth Photography, pic