TORC Series Off-Road Racing From Crandon International Raceway
Another chapter is written into the Crandon history books for the 45th anniversary
Every year there is a tradition in the Midwest. Load up the friends and family in the RV or trailer and head to Crandon, Wisconsin, for Labor Day weekend to watch some of the best short-course off-road racing in the sport. For some families, that tradition has been going on for 45 years. Thousands of dedicated fans make the journey near and far to converge on this small town. The minute camping spots go on sale they are sold out. This place has camping spots that go into the backwoods further than the eye can see. An estimated 47,000 race fans, teams, and crews filled Crandon International Raceway this year. The raceway had something special to celebrate, their 45th anniversary.
Rain Rearranges the Schedule
It’s not uncommon for Mother Nature to let her presence be known in the area. The rain is what keeps Wisconsin’s trees and plants lush and green and the lakes full, but it is an inconvenience when you have to run off-road races. Overnight Thursday into Friday morning there was enough rain to make a muddy mess out of the track. The rain stopped long enough to hold the annual parade in downtown Crandon. Shortly after the parade ended and everybody went back to the track, the rains came back. By Friday afternoon the weather turned to drizzle and very light showers. Dedicated race fans sat waiting for action on the lawn for hours with many getting soaked. Track officials held several meetings throughout the day and decided to get back on schedule. Overnight Friday, Mother Nature dropped some heavy rains that would rearrange Saturday’s race schedule. After several meetings throughout the day, and a break in the weather, the Sportsman races got underway. Saturday evening the decision was reached to cancel the Pro races for the day and come back on Sunday morning with an updated schedule. By Sunday officials had come up with a grand plan to get a full day of racing in before the AMSOIL Cup race in the evening.
Crowning The Champions
This year, Fall Crandon’s 1.5-mile track was the last stop for the TORC Series. That can only mean one thing. Season championships! When the Pro races resumed on Sunday, the Pro-Light battle was among C.J. Greaves, Chad Mittag, and Jerett Brooks. C.J. took the victory in the first race putting him in good position to collect a decent amount of points for a good shot at the championship title. The second race of the day was also the Pro-Light cup race. C.J. was not able to secure a win, racing hard with Shawn Morris to the end. Brooks took Third on the podium. After the points were calculated, the Pro-Light championship title was awarded to Brooks.
In Pro-4, Johnny Greaves just about had the championship locked up. Kyle Leduc won the race and Johnny secured the championship. Second in points was Mark Jenkins who pulled off the track early with mechanical problems. Chad battled with C.J. in the Pro-2 race. Chad got the race win and C.J. took the championship title. C.J. is the first TORC driver to earn a podium in all three Pro classes in the same day.
Keys To The Big House
The biggest race of the weekend happens Sunday evening, the AMSOIL Cup. Winners of the legendary cup race make Crandon history. Their stories are written into the record books at this historic venue. Winning the cup race gives you bragging rights. Surely those who win the coveted cup race are the fastest and best short-course drivers in the sport. Johnny has won the cup race twice in his career. Last year, Johnny and son C.J. battled to the very end in a historic door-to-door photo finish. C.J. got his first cup win. Winning the TORC Pro-4 season championship, Johnny has proven he has been the fastest driver in the series all season. There’s one problem. Kyle made the trek from the West Coast to also run for the cup title. Kyle is the points leader in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series and equally fast. Kyle won the cup race in Pro-Light five years ago. Forty-five thousand dollars plus a .45 shotgun is awarded to the winner of this race, not to mention the coveted cup trophy, and, of course, bragging rights for years to come! The race started with two land rush starts. First up, Pro-2. Seconds later Pro-4’s roared off the starting line. Chad was out front in Pro-2. The race would be red flagged after a bad crash by Mark Kvamme that knocked him unconscious. The track safety team and medical personnel immediately attended to Mark and took him to a local hospital. Dirt Sports + Off-Roadlater found out he was released and recovering at home.
The race restarted and Chad was back out front leading the field. Not far behind, as the laps ticked away, the Pro-4’s were catching up. Kyle passed Johnny. Both battled hard and soon they were up front. Kyle seemed to pull away from Johnny. White flag out with one lap to go, Kyle had the race in the bag. Kyle would bring the “Keys to the Big House” back to the West Coast. Forty-five thousand dollars, the beautiful engraved shotgun, the cup trophy, and a historic win to add to his already impressive résumé.
Morris Makes History
Shawn Morris has never seen the top spot on the podium in the TORC Pro-Light class. Somehow gremlins always get the best of him, causing issues with the truck. Shawn, a Colorado native won the Super Buggy championship in 2009. Shawn has two four-leaf clovers next to his name on the door of his truck. Shawn also had a leprechaun face painted on his helmet. Could Shawn’s win be attributed to the “Luck of the Irish?” Last year Shawn took Third at a Brush Run in Crandon. When the green flag dropped for the land rush start, Shawn got the holeshot. Shawn’s luck almost ran out as an immediate two by two restart was ordered when a truck flipped behind him. When the green flag waved Shawn shot out front and pulled away from the other Pro-Lights. An emotional Shawn said, “It’s amazing to see how many fans came up to me after the race to congratulate me. This win will be in my heart forever.”
Karts At Crandon
For the second year in a row, a group of short-course’s up-and-coming young guns trekked the hundreds of miles from the West Coast with their parents to run Modified Trophy Karts and make Crandon history. Last year, Myles Cheek became the first young gun ever to win the World Championship Kart class at Crandon. He has a championship ring to prove it. This year, 13-year-old Travis Pecoy would take that title. Leading the race wire to wire, Pecoy never looked back. Not many people in this sport can say they have made Crandon history at such a young age. Now Pecoy has the ring to prove it. This was Pecoy’s first time at Crandon. In a few years Pecoy will be in a bigger truck making Crandon history alongside the short-course veterans.
On a rainy Monday morning, race haulers, trucks towing trailers, and RVs rolled down the main street in Crandon and out to the picturesque two-lane highways. In less than 24 hours the “Big House” went suddenly empty and quiet. For another year the memories will remain of historic racing here. Labor Day weekend 2015 historic memories will again be made at “The Big House” and thousands of dedicated race fans will converge on Crandon to witness it all over again.