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Crandon, WI: Crandon International Off-Road Raceway. The Big House. It’s the stuff of legends, the fastest and largest track in short-course racing. Winning here takes a combination skillfull driving, sheer horsepower, and stamina that few can muster. Traxxas had that winning formula as the opening rounds of THE Traxxas Off-Road Championship (TORC) came The Big House. When the the dust settled, Traxxas drivers racked up an incredible eight podium finishes, including six wins in four classes. Race fans who couldn’t visit Crandon in person enjoyed streaming coverage of the event at the USAC website (usacracing.com), a feature that will be repeated at each TORC event. Here’s how it all went down in Crandon at TORC rounds 1 and 2. Be sure to tune in when TORC racing comes to Bark River July 10-11!
Rick Huseman Scores Back-To-Back Pro 4X4 Podiums
In Saturday’s Round 1 racing action, defending Pro 4X4 champion Rick Huseman showed the stuff that has put him on many previous podiums as his Toyota-powered Monster Energy/Traxxas truck roared onto the track. Huseman shook out to fourth place as the pack settled into their positions, with fellow fast drivers Johnny Greaves, Steve Barlow, and Scott Douglas ahead of him. For three laps, Huseman weaved behind Douglas, looking for his opportunity. That opportunity came in the Gravel Pit, a tight hairpin that presses the drivers to the sides of their seats and demands every bit of grip their tires can provide. Skillfully balancing traction and power, Rick got on the inside of Douglas, gained the advantage, then dropped the hammer and powered into the Traxxas Launch Zone to take second. Now it was Steve Barlow who found Huseman’s sinister black truck looming in his rear-view. Once again, the Gravel Pit became a battlezone, as Huseman made a daring outside-to-inside pass on lap five to overtake Barlow. Now in second, only Johnny Greaves, Rick’s Monster Energy teammate, remained between Huseman and first place as the trucks regathered during the mandatory yellow flag lap. As the race went green, the race order did not change, and Greaves led the charge all the way to the win. Despite finishing in second place, Huseman earned the Oakley Bomb trophy (awarded to the driver who posts the fastest lap of the race). That lap also broke the track record, which Huseman had set the previous year!
TORC rules invert the running order of the top 6 drivers in every other round, so Rick was gridded in the back of the field for Sunday’s Round 2 race. At the green, Huseman lead out fellow Traxxas racer Mark Jenkins (making his Pro 4X4 debut) then dueled with Mike Jenkins and his no. 47 Traxxas machine to secure fourth place behind leaders Douglas, Barlow, and Greaves. The mandatory yellow bunched the field, giving Huseman all the opportunity he needed to charge to the front when the green flag flew. The Crandon race fans rose to their feet as Rick unleashed his Traxxas-backed truck and muscled his way into the lead as the pack roared toward the Gravel Pit. For the next five laps, Huseman proved unstoppable as he earned his second podium in two races, this time taking the top step with the win and securing another Oakley Bomb and his spot at the top of the Pro 4X4 points chase.
First Race, First win! Traxxas’ Andrew Caddell Takes Double Podiums in Traxxas Pro Light
For most of TORC’s top pro’s, off-road driving prowess came with decades of racing in the dirt. Not so with Traxxas’ new Pro Light pilot Andrew Caddell; at just 22 years old, Andrew has already built an impressive on-road racing resume that includes national MX-5 Cup and Mustang Challenge titles, but not a single lap of gettin’ sideways in an off-road buggy or truck. That all changed in Crandon, as the young wheelman showed the versatility of his talent with a start-to-finish win in his first-ever Pro Light race! Throttle pinned, Caddell ran away from the ten-car pack with an impressive holeshot, then never looked back. With a lead of as much as 20 truck lengths at some points of the race, Caddell was a force to be reckoned with. The mandatory yellow put the other drivers within striking distance, but Caddell again drove away when the green flagged dropped. Never letting off even as his Traxxas Pro Light got up on two wheels in the Gravel Pit, the young Traxxas driver motored to the win. In addition to the first-place hardware, Caddell received $5,000 from Traxxas for earning first place. Traxxas Pro Light drivers are racing for a total of $200,000 throughout the season, with podium finishers earning $5,000 for first, $2,500 for second, and $1,500 for third and additional payouts all the way to tenth place. Caddell also received a cool $1,000 for posting the Traxxas Maxx Lap. This award goes to the driver with the fastest lap of the race, an honor Caddell won handily.
Per TORC’s inversion rules, finishing first on Saturday meant Caddell would start from sixth on Sunday. Instead of the clear air he enjoyed on Saturday, Caddell raced in the roost of five other drivers, each looking for nothing less than the win. By the time the trucks reached turn one, Caddell had picked up a spot to take fifth, then got around Luke Johnson to move into fourth as the field slowed for the mid-race yellow. Caddell dove inside at the restart, looking for a position, but slipped back into fourth. The track’s immense size hid the action from view as the drivers roared toward the distant start line, but as the trucks screamed back into turn one, a new order was revealed: Caddell had passed Marty Hart for third. Two laps later, Ross Hoek wrecked, opening the door for Caddell to move into second and chase down leader Casey Currie. But a second win was not meant to be, as Caddell ran out of time before he could catch Currie. For his efforts, Caddell earned the second-place Traxxas payout, and another Traxxas Maxx Lap award, again posting the fastest lap of the race.
Jeff Kincaid Conquers All With Pro 2WD and Crandon Cup Wins!
Easy-going off the track but hard-charging behind the wheel, fan favorite Jeff Kincaid took the talent that earned him seven Pro Light titles into the Pro 2WD class in Crandon. Round 1 action saw Kincaid’s new Traxxas truck start at the back of the 9-truck field despite qualifying second. Unbeknownst to Jeff, his tires were a quarter-inch wider than TORC rules allow, and the infraction cost him his qualifying spot. Jeff flogged his Traxxas truck all the way to fourth before the checkers came out, in a performance that primed fans for an epic battle in Round 2. Twenty-four hours later and a few ounces of tire rubber lighter, Jeff’s Traxxas Pro 2WD ripped into turn one with a blistering holeshot, and he stretched the gap to a massive lead. Mercilessly, the mid-race yellow returned the chasing pack to his rear bumper, but it didn’t matter—Kincaid rode away once again, stopping only to park his Traxxas truck in the winner’s circle with his first Pro 2WD win. Along with his spot on top of the box, Kincaid earned an Oakley Bomb award and set a new Pro 2WD track record.
In addition to making his Pro 2WD debut, the opening rounds of the TORC season gave Jeff his first shot at a Crandon Cup race. A Crandon tradition, the Cup race combines Pro 2WD and Pro 4X4 trucks in one race for a cash prize (this year, $15,000), and of course, the gleaming Crandon Cup itself. The Pro 2WD trucks started 12 seconds ahead of the Pro 4X4’s, and Kincaid poured it on in a battle for the lead with Scott Taylor. Kincaid moved into the lead when Taylor spun rounding the finish line turn. Now Ricky Johnson was coming on strong, and by lap four, Kincaid was behind the RJ’s Round-1 winning machine. Johnson opened a commanding lead, but mechanical troubles handed the top spot back to Kincaid. Chad Hord gave chase in second, but the real threat was in third as Scott Douglas charged relentles
sly toward the front with Pro 4X4 traction and power on his side. By the final lap, Douglas was in second and making up ground as Kincaid balanced caution to avoid a race-losing mistake and the demand for full-throttle fury to stay ahead of Douglas’ Pro 4X4. As the two trucks rounded the Gravel Pit turn, Douglas tried for the inside line and failed, but roared out of the corner with all four tires digging hard. Three truck lengths separated Douglas and Kincaid into the Traxxas Launch Zone, but the slim lead evaporated as the two warriors pitched their howling trucks into the final turn before the finish line. Douglas’ front bumper reached Kincaid’s door as the trucks crossed the line, and the crowd exploded into cheers for their local hero, Crandon Cup winner Jeff Kincaid.
Super Buggy Smackdown! CJ Greaves Wins Rounds 1 & 2
For fifteen-year-old CJ Greaves, racing is a way of life—after all, his Dad is multi-championship-winning Pro 4X4 driver Johnny Greaves. The former Trophy Kart and motocross racer arrived at Crandon with one win already under his belt from the previous Sportsman round in Antigo, WI. At The Big House, CJ put on an impressive display of maturity behind the wheel that belied his young age. On Saturday, CJ’s Toyota-powered 1600cc Traxxas buggy lead from green flag to checkers, with a commanding holeshot at the start and a lead that stretched to ten car lengths. The mid-race yellow gave the other drivers in the nine-car field another shot at the front spot, but CJ held onto first for the win.
Round 2 action inverted the top six and challenged CJ to race up through the field. The closely-matched buggies made it imperative for the drivers to maintain momentum, there would be no power-passes. In fifth place at turn one as the green flag flew, CJ moved into fourth by the mid-race yellow. The restart did not move CJ up, but it did allow him to close the gap on the leaders. As the buggies disappeared into the Argonne loop, CJ made an inside move to pick off the third- and second-place drivers. Scott Schwalbe held the lead as the race entered its final laps, and CJ closed the gap. A skillful motocross-style block pass put CJ out in front as he and Schwalbe poured full throttle into turn two, and CJ stayed in front to the finish line to secure his second win in two rounds of TORC racing. Sunday was also Fathers’ Day, one CJ and Johnny Greaves will never forget.
Traxxas Family Fun
There’s more to a TORC race than the action on the track! Once again title sponsor Traxxas pulled out all the stops to make Rounds 1 & 2 as memorable for the family fun off the track as they were for the exciting action with Traxxas-sponsored race trucks on the raceway.
Welcome to Crandon!
Always crowd pleasers, the colossal Slash and its super-sized transmitter let race fans know Traxxas is in town, and the inflatable eye-catchers made for great photo opps.
Traxxas Try-Me Track
Nothing draws a crowd like a Traxxas R/C truck, and everyone wants a turn. With the Traxxas Try-Me Track, everyone gets one! All race fans were welcome to test-drive the award-wining Slash, and hundreds lined up throughout the weekend. A one-dollar donation from each test-driver raised money for the Crandon Lions Club. The Slashes were run in Training Mode®, which limited speed to half-throttle so the first-time drivers could easily maneuver the trucks.
Traxxas Pit Display
Despite the millions of dollars’ worth of full-size racing hardware along pit row, Traxxas’ 1/10 scale cars and trucks may have gotten the most attention in the pits. The Traxxas Pit Display gave everyone a chance to get an up-close look at Traxxas’ award-winning vehicles and their innovative technology. Knowledgeable reps were on hand to answer everyone’s questions, and free catalogs and DVDs were available to all.
Traxxas Mobile Support Center
With so many race fans being introduced to Traxxas high-performance R/C for the first time, it’s no surprise that many had questions about the exciting hobby/sport. At each stop on the TORC circuit, the Traxxas Mobile Support Center is the place to learn more about radio control. Traxxas’ expert tech team is there to answer questions and support R/C racers on site with parts and service, and the Mobile Support Center is also the place to get the latest Traxxas apparel—plus free DVDs and catalogs.
Traxxas TORC R/C Challenge
Traxxas made R/C racing a popular fixture of TORC’s 2009 season, and the R/C racing in Crandon was better than ever thanks to a new, world-class permanent track complete with elevation changes, grass infield, scoring shack, and a drivers’ stand big enough for 20+ racers. The track even has a waterfall! Drivers signed up for racing on Friday and Saturday in four classes: Slash Spec, Slash Open, Slash 4X4, and Slayer. Slash Spec pits competitors against one another with basically stock vehicles, all but guaranteeing close and exciting racing as the high-performance trucks are perfectly matched. Pure driving skill is left to determine the best driver on the stand. Slash Open allows racers to modify their vehicles with as much power as traction allows. Slash 4X4 is the newest TORC R/C class, and the racing was action-packed as the brushless-powered trucks and their full-time 4WD systems offered instant acceleration, high speed, and aggressive cornering capability. The Slayer class brought high-revving 2-stroke power to TORC R/C racing, and drew crowds as the screaming engines let Crandon race fans know a new kind of racing was happening at the historic raceway.
TORC Pace Truck Ride-Along
All the Traxxas TORC R/C Challenge racers were also automatically entered in a drawing to win a ride in the Traxxas TORC pace truck. The winner of 2010’s first ride was Tanner Gould, but he had an unfair advantage: brother Blaine Gould won the pace-ride last year, and vowed that if he won again, he’d give his spot to Tanner! The TORC pace truck is nothing less than a fully outfitted Pro 2WD racing truck equipped with a passenger seat, and is as capable on the track as any of the racing machines it leads out before the green flag drops. Short of driving the truck himself, Tanner got as close to a real short-course racing experience as a fan can get.
Traxxas TORC Pro Driver R/C Challenge
After Saturday’s final race on the full-size track, the Traxxas Off-Road Championship’s top drivers exchanged their full-size racing machines for radio-controlled Traxxas Slash racing trucks. A popular event for the drivers and fans alike, the race was a fun diversion for the pros—but they were still racing to win! All the drivers had noticeably improved skills, and the front runners could have easily held their own against the local R/C heroes. After twenty laps of door-to-door racing, Johnny Greaves took the win, Traxxas’ own Mark Jenkins took second, and Johnny’s Monster Energy teammate Rick Huseman finished third. Joining them on the stand was Jeremy McGrath, Casey Currie, Jeff Kincaid, Scott Douglas, Scott Taylor, Steve Barlow, Dan VandenHeuval, Rob MacCachren, Ricky Johnson, and Traxxas drivers Mike Jenkins, Jeff Kincaid, and Andrew Caddell.
TORC Pro Pit Party
After the Pro Driver R/C Challenge, the drivers took their places for the TORC Pro Pit Party hosted by Traxxas. Race fans lined up to shake hands, take photos, and get autographs from their favorite drivers. Be sure to hang out after the last race when you attend a TORC event. You can meet the pros!
Don’t miss Rounds 3 & 4 of The Traxxas Off-Road Championship! Join us in Bark River, MI, or watch the race streaming online at www.usacracing.com, July 10 and 11!
Trevor “Chilly” Duncan
Online News Editor
Radio Control Car Action