Huge passes, fence rattling wreck, side by side battles send Eldora fans home very happy with Off-Road debut
The first Main Event to ever roll onto the highly modified Eldora Speedway featured the Traxxas TORC Series Pro Four Wheel Drive Trucks presented by Red Bull. The first time the fans saw the 900+ horsepower speed machines was in fact the first track time for all the equipment and the majority of drivers. Persistent rain claimed the originally scheduled Friday activities and scrapped all on-track preliminaries on tap for Saturday. Let’s take a moment to let that sink in; no notebook on the track beyond some classic videos featuring World 100’s Kings Royals galore and a smorgasboard of non-wing Sprint Car thillers…zero practice time, a total lack of hot laps. Toss in no possible way of knowing how a high horsepower knobby tired behemouth would handle a wall high table top at the Start/Finish Line and a line of imposing jumps down the back chute and it was all set up to be an intriguing affair as the trucks hit the track.
The prior events of the first ever Off-Road race at Eldora and the first ever closed course – true oval event ever contested under TRAXXIS promotion were interrupted by a thrity minute shower that gave way to some outstanding racing in the Buggies, Pro-Lites and Pro-Two Wheel Drive classes. Nothing was going to prepare the fans in attendance and the millions joining worldwide via Red Bull Steaming video and Speed TV’s live coverage for the spectacle that was about to take place.
Leading the way to the green were front row starters Mark Jenkins in the #25 machine and the #21 of Rob MacCachren who had the advantage of just competing in the Pro-Two Wheel Drive class and finishing third. The second row featured Mike Jenkins in #47 and Ricky Johnson in the #1. Scott Douglas and Johnny Greaves placed their familiar #’s 7 and 22 respectively made up row three followed by Adrian Cenni Mark Kvamme.
The drop of the green saw Rob MacCachren jump to the lead on the high side while pole sitting Mark Jenkins didn’t get the start he’d hoped for and began to drop through the field. Jenkins didn’t seem to be getting a good drive into the jumps and was passed quickly by Ricky Johnson and Scott Douglas. Likewise Mike Jenkins didn’t get the best drop on the start and fell back from his fourth place grid position. Mark gathered himself and blasted by Ricky Johnson over the back stretch doubles and he was pulling away when disaster struck out of Turn Four. One slight juke of the wheels coming over the first front chute ramp tilted the truck right side first, the right front tire dug in and slung the Traxxas sponsored #25 dancing toward the wall and up into Eldora’s top notch catch fencing system. Mark Kvamme collected the resting Jenkins which would end his evening. The cockpit of Jenkins’ truck was totally intact, the driver was fine, the fence held perfectly strong and spring boarded the truck back onto the racing surface. After a brief delay for some realignment by Eldora Officials it was back to racing, not as if they’ve never had a Red Flag on the grounds before after all.
The field reformed with Rob MacCachren leading Scott Douglas, Johnny Greaves, Ricky Johnson, Mike Jenkins and Adrian Cenni. Ross Hoek missed the original call for the start but joined the field at the tail upon the conclusion of the Red Flag Period. At the drop of the gree, and not being one to wait around Johnny Greaves went under Scott Douglas going into Turn One while in mid-air, had a strong run but Douglas was able to regain control of second place as they attacked the first double jump on the back stretch. Douglas used his good run to eye the lead on the low side of Rob MacCachren as they flooded into Turn Three. MacCachren drifted just high in Three and Four but Douglas couldn’t capilize.
Once the pack reached the back chute again it was time for the classic Late Model and Sprint Car moves to take full effect. Greaves had moved up half a lane in One and Two, rode the momentum down the back, shown the nose to Douglas on the high side but then pulled a version of the “Crossover” to slice across the track to the low groove in order to overtake Douglas. Like the time prior however Greeaves couldn’t hold the spot down. Douglas instead ripped down the front chute, saw MacChachren slide up in One and dove low entering Turn One. Douglas then used a “baby version” of what Eldora Faithful know as a Slide Job where he let MacCachren drift high, dove low and slide the number seven truck safely up in front of the now charging #21. Just as often occurs in racing cars, Johnny Greaves used the bobble by MacCachren, the groove borrowing by Douglas and tremendous momentum he’d been enjoying with his line of choice to blast by MacCahren down the back side. The lead pack of four now included a smooth line running Ricky Johnson. Douglas maintained a truck length lead for a lap but it was then quickly disovled by Johnny Greaves who was truly running the highest of the high grooves and making it work very well.
The leaders began to take turns having slight missteps as Greaves notched the front stretch wall with the right rear, Scott Douglas nosed in hard into the mud off of the Turn One jump, Greaves kicked it way sideways on the back chute while in mid-air to where it looked like he was front end facing the grandstands on several occasions. None of this served to slow them much, in fact it seemed as if they were picking up speed with familiarity of what steering input led to which direction the individual jumps would sent the truck. As nice as that sounds, repeating the input didn’t seem to reveal the same result lap after lap as conditions were literally changing with every pass around the hallowed half mile. Mike Kvamme got tangled on the back chute and came to a rest in Turn Three to bring out the yellow flag. During the yellow Scott Douglas resigned from the lead to enter the infield in order to change a seriously damaged right rear tire.
Douglas’s crew made the repairs and he joined the restart behind Greaves, Johnson, MacCahren, Mike Jenkins and Adrian Cenni Greaves bolted to lead a few laps with Ricky Johnson on his heels. Johnson was running better in the short jumps while Greaves was better into and out of the high banked turns. Rob MacCachren continued to struggle getting through the corners as he banged off the wall in Turn Four. Johnson was measuring his line against Greaves but it was Scott Douglas who was on a tear and was himself taking stock of what was going on out of his wind screen. The action was halted as Adrian Cenni took a rough tumble and ground to a halt bringing out the yellow which would be folded into the previously scheduled Competition Caution.
The second half of the Main Event featured battles for every position after each driver spent a few laps assessing which line they could make work the best and how to balance it against what was being run by those trailing. MacCachren looked far better then just prior to the yellow and Scott Douglas was putting on a show as the fastest thing out there on the low side all the way around after the tire change earlier. Once Ricky Johnson saw a slight opening in One but couldn’t bust through a quickly adjusting Johnny Greaves, Johson barely burped the gas to avoid taking both trucks out and that allowed MacCachren to try his luck on the high side to no avail. Scott Douglas used that to jump by MacCachren.
The final run to the checkers was chock full of Greaves, Johnson and Douglas inching away at their preferred line followed by wholesale swipes being made out of necessity. With three to go Greaves danced just a bit off line coming toward the table top and Johnson dove low in One. Some contact was inevitable and there was some but nothing of huge import as Johnson slid by Greaves and emerged with the lead out of turn two. Johnson stretched a lead on Greaves as he did on Douglas as the first ever Traxxas TORC series event went into the record books. The ouset of the event saw a huge percentage of the crowd cheer when they were asked if it was their first visit to Eldora and likewise when the question was who was seeing Off-Road Racing for the first time ever, the on track action in four divisions managed to send all of the fans home more than happy knowing that as Eldora tends to do, a truly outstanding show was held and thousands of life long memories were made.
1- Ricky Johnson
2 – Johnny Greaves
3- Scott Douglas
4 – Rob MacCachren
5 – Mike Jenkins
6 – Ross Hoek
7 – Adrian Cenni
8 – Mark Kvamme
9 – Mark Jenkins