TORC Duel in the Desert Series Opener
The TORC (The Off-Road Championship) series kicked off today in Primm, Nevada, for round one of the 2014 short-course off-road series. While the big news in the offseason was the purchase of TORC by The Armory, not much has changed in terms of the on-track action, as race fans showed up to catch the event in person while others now had the benefit to stream the event live on Motor Trend’s YouTube channel. Regardless of where fans chose to catch the action, there was plenty of dirt-flying action today, with more still on tap for tomorrow’s round two.
The stacked Pro Lite field featured 26 trucks taking the starting line for Saturday's race. Young off-road prodigy CJ Greaves, son of short-course legend Johnny Greaves, posted the fastest qualifying time and was first off the line for the main. In spite of a number of restarts due to crashes and pileups, Graves led wire to wire to take home the win.
“We started up front, we qualified first, and we never had to pull a tear-off,” he said after the race. “We just kept keeping our head down charging forward. We had a bunch of cautions. I’m don’t know how many more shots they could’ve had at me, but we kept our cool, our truck stayed together, and here we are up top.”
Greaves held off challenges from second-place finisher Doug Mittag during the race but never relinquished his lead. Jerett Brooks rounded out the podium in third.
The Pro 2 race featured 10 racers who took the starting line at Primm, though notably absent were last season’s champion Bryce Menzies and 2013 Pro 2 runner-up Rob MacCachren. In spite of the field being a little less stacked than usual, the Pro 2 racers put their 900-horsepower trucks to work on the wide-open track at Primm. Chad Hord put his fastest qualifying position to work to nab the early lead, though second-fastest qualifier Marty Hart stayed on his tail for much of the race.
Unfortunately racing was put on hold for quite some time after Arie Luyendyk Jr. had a multiple-rollover crash after tangling with Mike Jenkins off of the jump heading into the whoops. Emergency responders were quickly on the scene, and the crew went to work safely removing Luyendyk from the truck. Though he was clearly in some pain, a member of his crew did say he had movement of his arms and legs, and he was in good enough spirits to later tweet out the following: “Still here at the hospital just want to thank the @TORCOffRoad safety crew for getting out safely. #morphinetweet.”
After Luyendyk Jr. was safely en route to the hospital for further evaluation, the Pro 2 field retook the track to finish the race. Hord regained his spot out front, while Hart remained right on his heels yet again. When the checkered flag waved, Hord earned the win ahead of Hart, while Mark Jenkins battled through the pack to earn the final podium spot.
“We knew we had a fast a truck,” Hord said. “We had been here testing all week, and just to be able to get it out in front of the crowd and show it is what we needed to do.”
When asked if the crash mid-race made it difficult to refocus and try to finish the race, Hord explained that it’s hard to see a fellow driver wreck during a race.
“It is [tough], especially when you know that when one of the racers is hurt, because we’re all friends out here, so that’s never good.”
Hord said he looks forward to tomorrow’s race, and he knows they are still getting the truck dialed in to maximize its full potential.
“This track has always been brutal but we know our truck’s fast here, and right out of the gate the first race of the season and we haven’t even scratched where this thing can be at, so we’re really excited.”
The final race of the day was Pro 4, which offered some of the best racing of the day. After rolling over only halfway through the first lap, Johnny Greaves was able to re-fire his engine after getting back on four wheels, and once the race restarted he battled his way through the pack to eventually take the lead, which he held until the mandatory restart halfway through the races.
Greaves looked to be in control of the race, but “The Wildman” Adrian Cenni had worked into second place and was starting to close the gap on Greaves. After mechanical troubles claimed a few racers, only four trucks remained on the track during the final few laps. Greaves looked to be in control but started losing power in the final two laps, opening the door for Cenni to apply the pressure and ultimately make a last-lap pass to earn the first Pro 4 win of the season. Greaves was able to hold on to finish second, though his truck did need to be pushed up to the podium after the race. In the battle for third place, Mark Kvamme was able to hold off Ross Hoek for the final podium spot.
“I’m kind of spiritual in a certain way about knowing when the time is right and when our time is due, and I really feel like this season our time is due,” Cenni said. “This should be the beginning of a lot of good podiums to come for the whole season, so we’re off to a really good start.
Greaves was a little disappointed to not earn the win after so much work, but he realized that second place was still a good finish considering how poorly the race started for him.
“You know, after I pulled that brain-headed move on the first lap there I gathered myself up, but unfortunately we hung upside down for so long that we lost a lot of motor oil and it was just pray and hope,” Greaves said on the podium. “You know, it was running good and then the lap before the white flag came out we lost one cylinder, and then we lost two, and then that last lap we were just struggling to get it to the finish line.”
With one round in the books at Primm, TORC returns again tomorrow for the second round of the opening weekend of its season. Be sure to check back for more updates on Off-Road.com.
1. Chad Hord
2. Marty Hart
3. Mark Jenkins
1. CJ Greaves
2. Doug Mittag
3. Jerett Brooks
1. Adrian Cenni
2 Johnny Greaves
3. Mark Kvamme