2012 Mole Lake Casino & Conference Center / MORR Off-Road Challenge Winning Streaks End, First Time Winners, & Super Stock Championship Tightens Up - Highlight the Weekend
Posted on Sunday, July 15, 2012
Glenview, IL (July 11, 2012) - This past weekend the Mole Lake - MORR Off-Road Challenge brought together one hundred five competitors from across the country to the Langlade County Fairgrounds in Antigo, Wisconsin. Along with all the TORC Sportsman classes, a unique two round competition for TORC PRO-Light racers was also included in the program. Along with the cooperation of Mother Nature, the Krueger and Vanden Heuvel families, and the support of Mole Lake, another great off-road event took place at the long-time short-course venue.
The event itself saw the Mole Lake Casino & Conference Center add purse money to all classes as well as the PRO-Light Challenge and has a contract with the promoters to extend their support for the event through 2014. Along with the event support, Mole Lake is an official marketing partner of Midwest Off-Road Racing.
The .75 mile long track utilizes the majority of the .5 mile bank clay circle track, along with a lengthy pass through the infield. Overall the fast straightaways and high speed corners are combined with six large jumps, a tight bank infield corner, and a long and large rhythm section to create a very challenging and entertaining off-road course.
Saturday - Round 5
The first race of the weekend was the twelve truck field of the Classix division. The diverse field included 1980's editions Ford Broncos, Chevy Blazers, a whole bunch of mid-size GM bodied coupes, and a 70's Chevy El Camino. The opening lap saw #696 Jeremy Dake takes the lead, but was short lived as Aaron Konitzer took command of the race by lap two. Behind Konitzer, #612 Kenny Platen, #613 Dale Chestnut, and Mike Mischler battled most of the race for the final two podium positions.
The during the mandatory caution, the race was red flagged to spread more water throughout the track as the unseasonably dry summer throughout the Midwest thoroughly tested the Antigo track crew.
After a ten-minute delay, the field went back to racing. Quickly Konitzer gapped the rest of the field. The final few laps saw Chestnut make a late race charge to finish second, as early race leader Jeremy Dake regrouped to land on the podium for the first time in his career claimingthird place. The win by Konitzer ended Dale Chestnut's four race win streak.
A small but strong field of five Stock Trucks lined up next. For much of the race the battle for the lead was between Tom Graff and defending class champion Matt Ives. Ben Wierzba ran a steady and consistent pace keeping a close distance on Graff and Ives has they fought for the topspot. After the mandatory caution Ives finally had the momentum going through the rhythm section to make the pass for the lead. Unfortunately, Ives and Graff hooked bumpers sending both trucks into a spin. This was all Wierzba needed to grab the lead, and hold the top spot for the final four laps for his first career win.
Meanwhile Ives and Graff continued to battle, this time for the runner-up spot. Ives regroupedquicker and took home second place as Graff broke on the final lap, but it was enough to claim the final spot on the podium.
Eleven 1600 Single Buggy drivers rolled out for the next race. Pole sitter Dave Lugar immediately grabbed the lead, with Canadian Travis Dinsmore right on his bumper in second place. Lugar gave it his best shot, but on lap four Dinsmore made the pass to assume the lead. MeanwhileMike Seefeldt held on to third place as Mark Steinhardt and Mike Vanden Heuvel battled for fourthplace as the mandatory caution came out.
The final six laps saw Dinsmore trying to fend off Mike Seefeldt. The two traded positions on lap seven, but Dinsmore never gave up. Then on lap nine the Canadian took the lead heading into the infield portion of the track. The final three laps saw Dinsmore keep the lead to take the winas Seefeldt finished second, and a late race charge by Mark Steinhardt crossed the finish in third place.
The seven truck field of Formula 4x4 trucks consisted of four Ford Broncos, one Ford Ranger, one Ford F-150, and a Jeep CJ-7. The top two positions were determined early on as Brad LeMarche grabbed the lead, with Dave Miah running about six truck lengths behind the defending class champion. On lap four Ben Passa moved around Charlie Bell for the final podium position. The final seven laps saw the running order remain the same. Officially Brad LeMarche took the win, Dave Miah finished second, and Ben Passa crossed the line in third place.
The six truck field of Super Truck was next. Throughout the day track officials were trying their best to keep the dust to a minimum, but there seemed to be almost too much water on the trackfor this race. Jerry Edgerton grabbed the holeshot which allowed him to run in the clean airas he led flag to flag.
Behind Edgerton the mud was a contribution factor to the finishing order. Early on Bob Gremlerwas running second with pressure from rookie Gerrit Bancroft. On lap four Bancroft caught Gremlergoing too wide through Turn Four and moved up to second place. The mud coming off the trucks really was causing vision problems for everyone except leader Edgerton.
On the restart, Gremler passed Bancroft to reoccupy second place. A lap later Bancroft spins in Turn Four allowing veteran Don Williams to move into podium position. The final four laps saw the running order remain unchanged. Jerry Edgerton takes the win, Bob Gremler comes across the finish in second, and Don Williams completed the podium.
The largest field of the weekend took to the track, as twenty-four Light Buggy competitors lined up for the rolling start. Pole sitter Eric Lear grabbed the lead, with the rest of the field pushing and bumping their way to the front. On lap two Tony Keepers made the pass to take the lead. As Keepers was running away from the field, class points leader Greg Stingle was stuck in traffic well back in the field.
At the mandatory caution, Keepers held the lead with Lear in second and Beau Ambos in third. Stingle somehow found himself in fifth place with his sight set on the podium.
When racing resumed, Keepers kept the lead and held on for his first career win. Meanwhile Stingle continued to press and by lap ten moved into second place. Another late race charger was theteenager Billy Buth, after starting well back in the back, he made a last lap pass of Lear to take final spot on the podium.
The nine trucks had a practice and qualifying session that had Andrew Caddell qualifying number one and took home the $500 Traxxas fast qualifier award. The top six times were inverted for Saturday's start. This put Mitch Dorr and Nick Baumgartner on the front row. The rolling start saw Baumgartner take the early lead, as Dorr spun heading into Turn Two. Somehow everyone made it past Dorr without making contact.
After the restart, CJ Greaves and Keegan Kincaid were having a great race for the third position. At the finish it was Caddell taking the win, as Johnson claimed second place, and Kincaid rounded out the top three positions.
The PRO Buggy group was next. Right from the start a great battle for the top spot emerged between Andy Zipperer and teenager Mitchell DeJong. The two Buggy drivers passed each other several times before DeJong made the pass for the leader permanent during lap three. While this was happening, New York's Bob Klaus was doing his best to keep the AWD Buggy of John Frana from getting to a podium spot.
After the mandatory caution, the restart saw Zipperer spin going through Turn Four as Bob Klaus had to retire with mechanical issues. This moved Frana into second and Zipperer into third place. For a couple of laps Frana was making small gains on DeJong, but never enough to challengethe young Californian. At the finish it was DeJong first, Frana second, and Zipperer in third. Duringthe podium interviews DeJong told the crowd that he stuck in third gear the final three laps.
The final Sportsman race of the day was the usually controversial and always high tension Super Stock Truck group. The last couple seasons has seen various accusations by several drivers aimed at their fellow competitors, as well as overly aggressive driving that has seen USAC wave the black flag on several incidents.
With that said the Super Stock competitors put on the best race of the day. Once again Mole Lake Casino & Conference Center stepped up with an additional $2000 for the class payout. On lap one current points leader Nick Byng spun out heading towards Turn Two and a few moments late retired from the race. Up front a four truck battle raged for the remaining eleven laps. Early onJustin Keehner grabbed the lead with Danny Beauchamp and Don Demeny literally right on each other's bumper. The three trucks were racing three wide throughout the first half of the race. Atsome point in the race all three drivers had held the lead.
The second half of the race saw Keehner fade back to fourth place as Al Konitzer made a late charge to move into second place with three laps to go. The final laps saw Beauchamp take controlof the race and finish on top of the podium with Al Konitzer second, and Don Demeny holding on for third place.
The incredibly close racing during all twelve laps saw little if any contact between the frontrunners of the race. As the top three drivers climbed out of their trucks, TORC Race Director Terry Severson was the first person to congratulate each driver on their great race. Special thanks also goes out to Ed Monte and MSD Ignition for donating the RPM limiting chip for every SST entry. After watching this race, limited engine speed seems to "level the playing field" in this extremely competitive class.
After all the racing, a short exhibition saw Johnny Greaves in his PRO-4x4, Jerry Conrad in his Ultra 4, Jim Ridderbush in another Ultra 4, and Dan Baudoux with his Sport 4 make several laps for the nearly full grandstand pavilion.
Sunday - Round 6
The first race of the day had six Classix racers line up for the twelve lap affair. The start saw Kurt Schuch grab the early lead only to succumb to mechanical issues on lap three. Rob Weiland moved into the lead with Dale Chestnut, Mike Mischler and Scott Mueller in hot pursuit. The top three races were running close together when the mandatory caution came out allowing the rest of the field to catch up with the leaders.
When the field went back to green flag racing, Mueller made a hard charge to get around Mischler for second place and began pressuring Chestnut for the lead. With three laps to go Mischler retired and the Mueller slowed his pace. The last two laps saw Chestnut take a commanding lead all the way to the finish as Mueller, now running with a broken axle, hung on to second as a hard charging Bill Wilson finished third.
The 1600 Single Buggy group was next and once again Dave Lugar grabbed the early lead. This time current points leader Mark Steinhardt took control of the race by the end of the first lap. Steinhardt was never seriously challenged as he took his third win of the year. Meanwhile Travis Dinsmore and reigning points champion Brad Erickson had a wheel to wheel battle during the entiretwelve laps. In the end Erickson crossed the line in second closely followed by Dinsmore. As the race wound down, Charlie Schlieve Jr. and Dillon Reimer had very solid runs finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
Due several racers unable to make the starting grid the next race was the combined classes of Formula 4x4 and Stock Truck. The Formula 4x4 race was a duel between Charlie Bell and Brad LeMarche. The two racers both held the top spot on a couple of different occasions, but in the end it was LeMarche taking the win with Bell in second. The final spot on the podium was determined on the last lap as Dave Miah looked like he was in line for third place, but with onlyrear wheel drive, the Ford Bronco got hung up on a implement tire course marker allowing another wounded truck driven by Dave Maaged to coast on by for third place.
The Stock Truck race was also a two truck race between Ben Wierzba and Matt Ives. Wierzba led most of the race as Matt Ives while driving a wounded truck, kept leader always in his sights. With three laps to go Ives overtook Wierzba coming out of turn six, but Wierzba hung tough and reclaimed the lead on the final lap of the race.
Four Super Truck competitors lined up for the next twelve lap event. Jerry Edgerton grabbed the holeshot closely followed by Gerrit Bancroft and Bob Gremler. On lap two Gremler stormed by the two trucks in front of him to take control of the race. Edgerton had his hands full with Bancroft during the entire time; Witt three laps to go Edgerton succumbed to the pressure and rolled moving Bancroft in second place. The final lap saw a side by side drag race to the finish,as Gremler crossed finish about three feet in front Bancroft.
The twenty four buggy field of Light Buggy would see side by side battles throughout the field. Up front a real battle ensured between Beau Ambos, BryanbHoltger, Matt Mullen, Matt Ashauer, and Matt Solka. Ambos lead first couple of laps, but latter faded. Then Mullen took the lead for the mid-section of thebrace. Bryan Holtger made his move around Matt Ashauer mid-race and challenged Matt Mullen for the lead. Then with two to go Holtger carried his momentumbaround Mullen to take the lead and at the same time Solka moved around Ashauer while running through therhythm section. The finish had Bryan Holtgerbtaking the win, Matt Mullen in second, and Matt Solka taking thefinal spot on the podium.
The second round of the Mole Lake PRO-Light Challenge lined up with Mark Oberg and Josh Hintz on the front row. The opening lap had Oberg out in front, but by lap two Keegan Kincaid was in command of the race. Behind the leader Andrew Caddell and Luke Johnson went door to door, similarto Saturday, during the first half of the race. The three Jenkins Brothers Racing teammates continued to hold the podium positions all the way to the checkered flag. Early race leader Mark Obergfinished fourth and Shawn Morris rounded out the top five.
After scoring the two PRO-Light rounds of racing , the overall results were: 1st- Andrew Caddell, 2nd-Keegan Kincaid, 3rd-Luke Johnson, 4th-Mark Oberg, 5th-Shawn Morris, 6th-Eric Ruppel,7th-Mitch Dorr/Josh Hintz, 8th-Jason Janusz, 9th-Nick Baumgartner, 10th-CJ Greaves.
Six Super Buggy racers made it to the starting grid for Round 6. The rolling start saw John Frana grab the lead and dominate the first four laps. Then on lap five, the engine expired endinghis weekend. Mitchell DeJong took over the lead, as Andy Zipperer and Bob Klaus battled for the runner-up spot. After twelve laps Mitchell DeJong took the win, Andy Zipperer cross the finish insecond, as Bob Klaus was right behind in third place.
The final race of the weekend was the Super Stock Truck group. After an incredible race on Saturday, everyone wondered if the twelve truck field could duplicate the feat. Jay Schaefer and Ty Arneson were on the front row, and when the green flag was waved Schafer lead the field after the first lap. By lap two Saturday's winner Danny Beauchamp made the pass for the lead. By lap three Justin Keehner moved up to second and a lap later Demeny moved into third. A real battle between the first three racers began to develop, but before Demeny could really challenge Keehneredged ahead for good on lap ten. At the checkered flag it was Justin Keehner taking the win, Danny Beauchamp coming across in second, a hard charging Larry Maciosek landed on the final step of the podium, and early race leader Jay Schaefer finished fourth.
Just as the final checkered flag was waved heavy rain hit the Langlade County Fairgrounds, after all what would a TORC event be without a little rain.
Once again a great big thanks goes out to Mole Lake Casino and Conference Center for sponsoring the event as well as the efforts of the entire MORR group, the Krueger and Vanden Heuvel families for promoting and hosting an awesome event, the Langlade County Fairgrounds Board, Miller Electric and Traxxas for their product donations to the raffle, the Antigo community, TORC/USAC, the MORR Podium Girls (Zatrina McGeshick, Taylor Brownell, Hope Knuijt, Brandy Bancroft) the racers and their supporters, and all the volunteers that lent a hand with the event.
For photos from the weekend event please visit the
See you in Bark River!!