"Land rush." The term came to life when land was given away in Oklahoma, with settlers lined up at the ready. At an appointed time, they were allowed to scamper across the prairie and claim their 40 acres. We don't know about you, but we'd sprint pretty hard if free land was waiting on the other end.
For those who weren't in Oklahoma more than a century ago, CORR Championship Off-Road Racing offers a land-rush start during its Crandon, Wisconsin, round. Instead of horses and wagons, anxious racers await the signal that sets them loose on Crandon's 1.5-mile track. What begins as a wide starting line quickly funnels down into a narrow right-hander. He who lifts off the gas pedal must eat the dust of those who don't. At the end of the race, series points, prize money, and greater sponsorship opportunities await. Come to think of it, we'd sprint pretty hard for that, too.
CORR's Crandon round included two days of racing the normal CORR classes and the Governor's Cup Challenge. Instead of series points, fullsize trucks battled it out on the track for cash and bragging rights. Two- and four-wheel drives slugged it out to the end.
Throughout the weekend, hot weather played havoc with engines and transmissions. Forest County Potawatomi Racing's Johnny Greaves kept a cool head, engine, and transmission long enough to gain a five-point series lead over his next closest rivals, Curt LeDuc and Scott Douglas, who ended the Crandon round tied in Pro-4 points. Greaves also added the Governor's Cup victory to his weekend. Those lucky enough to attend CORR races can witness high-flying, high-horsepower, race-bred machines slugging it out on tracks built with spectator comfort in mind. Those unable to be there in person can tune in to Speed Channel to see the racing as it happens. This past year was CORR's sixth year of steady growth in terms of prize money, television coverage, and popularity, and it seems as though the CORR rush has just begun.
Ross Hoek treated the Crandon fans to spectacular launches during both Crandon rounds. Saturday, Hoek's Superlift F-150 led the pack out of the first turn, but overheated the transmission during the last lap. Sunday also saw a good launch with Hoek's yellow Ford out front until contact between the BFG-shod Ford and Dan Baudoux's Teamtech F-150 put both trucks in catch-up mode. Hoek ultimately landed off-kilter from a jump and broke his rear suspension. "Hoeker" puts on a great show.
With the fastest hands on the track, Evan Evans piloted his Pro-2 Chevy while dicing with fellow ace Tommy Bradley. Evan steered, accelerated, and stopped using specially modified hand controls inside his Explorer Pro Comp-sponsored Bow Tie. Why? After losing the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident, he found a new way to go fast off-road.
Skyjacker's Curt LeDuc and Lucas Oil's Carl Renezeder have battled each other over Baja's remote two-track byways. Their Crandon battle was no less intense, and CORR's spectator-friendly format let thousands witness the drama. During the Governor's Cup, LeDuc, Renezeder, Scott Douglas, and Johnny Greaves formed a four-unit freight train, scratching and clawing for every advantage. Renezeder found himself caught between LeDuc in the front and Douglas and Greaves in the back. It felt "like being the bologna in the middle of a sandwich," Renezeder said. The Skyjacker Ford slowed with a cut front tire, while the Lucas Oil Chevy fell victim to transfer case problems. Douglas' Rancho Ford fried its transmission, leaving Greaves to take the win.
As a collision shop partner, Kevin Probst usually benefits when drivers swap paint on the road. As a CORR driver, Kevin's game plan involves contact if necessary, but swapping paint is the last thing he wants. Mobil Racing's Scott Taylor battled with Probst during both Crandon Pro-2 rounds. Any paint swapped? Nope, these guys give new meaning to the term precision driving.
Art Schmitt leads teammate Mark Krueger in a charge of the Pro-Lite brigade. Schmitt kept the rubber-side down and finished the weekend with Fourth Place Pro-lite series points. Schmitt needs a mere two points to tie Third Place Chad Hord.
Scott Douglas' Pro-4 F-150 spouts a few flames to match the hood graphics. No emergency -- it's just something that happens with race-tuned motors from time to time. Scott was a threat to win, but driveline gremlins surfaced and took the Rancho F-150 out of the running. The word disappointed just scratched the surface of how the team felt after being sidelined. Best of luck in future rounds, Scott.
How tough is CORR? Pro-2 rookie Steve Barlow came to the CORR competition after dominating several seasons of Pro Truck racing in the Southwestern deserts. At first, he struggled with the new machinery and the short, tight tracks. Adaptable and aggressive, Barlow is on his way to the same level of success he's enjoyed in wide-open spaces. When the right moment comes, Barlow's Red Bull Ford will take the checkers.
Off-road racing fans have a good thing going. At nearly any major event, the sport's top drivers are closely accessible to fans and admirers -- most of the time you can just walk up and say hello. Try that with your favorite celebrity or musical artist. Here, Pro-2 speedster Scott Taylor autographs a fan's T-shirt.
Dan Baudoux is firmly committed to CORR's spectator-friendly format, noting, "The short course venue offers more action and excitement to viewers young and old." Dan piloted his black Teamtech Ford to a solid series lead in the Sportsman-2 division and also garnered the Borg Warner Shootout's "Sportsman of the Race" award. Way to go.
More land-rush carnage. This time, the first turn mayhem took out Rancho's Scott Douglas, who was waylaid by a collision that sent Toyota's Johnny Greaves into his rear flanks. Douglas spun into the wall, taking Steve McCrossan along for the ride. Neither completed the race.
Pro-Lite racers charged the first turn with all the fervor and fearlessness of their fullsize counterparts. Pedals mashed floorboards and the resulting pileup earned Mark Krueger's number 28 Nissan Frontier more frequent flyer miles. Krueger lined up for the re-start, along with the rest of the Pro-Lite mini-trucks. Stock machines would've been totaled in a heartbeat, but Pro-Lite trucks use a 4130 chrome-moly space frame skinned with stock-like fiberglass.
Mark Krueger took a ride he wasn't expecting when things went awry in this corner. A rogue rut caught one of the Pro-Lite Nissan's wheels and the tumbling began. Toyota Pro-Lite top gun Jeff Kincaid narrowly missed feeling the brunt of the flip. Amazingly, Krueger ended up rubber-side down, restarted the motor, and continued the race.
Johnny Greaves was the man with the home field advantage. Forest County Potowatomi sponsors his Pro-4 Toyota, as well as CORR's Crandon round. At Crandon, Johnny G. did his sponsors and fans proud by pushing his 600-hp I-Force motor to take the Governor's Cup win.
Most racers have crossed over from other sports. The lessons learned at other venues translate into work ethics and strategies that spell CORR success. Kyle LeDuc is a professional downhill mountain biker, but trades his clip-in mountain bike shoes and pedals for thin-soled driving shoes several times a year.