Off Road Races set to begin Friday

BARK RIVER – Cody and Kyle Kleiman of Wilson have spent the better part of their lives watching their father, Mark, race at Bark River International Raceway. For the two brothers, racing alongside Mark and in front of their local hometown, has always been a dream for them.

This weekend, a dream will become a reality as Cody and Kyle will make their TORC Series debut at Bark River International Raceway, in the Pro Light TORC Off-Road Series.

“I watched him growing up, all the time,” Cody Kleiman said about his father. “It’s just been a passion of mine to be out there with him. I always wanted to race him, but now that it’s actually happening, it’s been an unbelievable moment.”

After Mark briefly retired from the super stock division, Cody and Kyle began racing four-wheelers. As a former motocross racer, and a parent, Mark understood the dangers posed by motorcross racing.

“With taking some time off, the boys had begun some racing with the quads and did very well with it,” Mark said. “As a parent, and with racing motocross in the past, I knew what that would entail over time. With the injuries, that come with racing that stuff, I wanted to see them in a roll cage around them.”

Two years later, Mark returned to the Pro Light division. Cody and Kyle continued to race four-wheelers, up until Mark decided it was time to give his sons a chance in the same division that he races in.

“When it’s family, it makes it even better,” Kyle said about making his debut season alongside his brother and father. “When we saw we were getting another truck, it was like ‘Holy cow, dreams are coming true.'”

With two trucks, Mark races full-time, while Cody and Kyle will each race on one day of the weekend. The points that Cody and Kyle earn, all go toward the same truck and point total.

The brothers have embraced the role as supportive teammates.

“You’d think it would be difficult, because you’re always together, but we get along so good, it doesn’t matter,” Cody said about sharing time with his brother.

So far, both Cody and Kyle have displayed similar driving habits. So much so, the truck appears to consistently race the same way, regardless of whose turn it is to drive.

“Kyle might be a little bit more patient with the truck, but Cody is a charger,” Mark said about his sons’ driving styles. “I hear several times at the track, that the guys at the track don’t even know who’s in the truck-whether it’s Cody or Kyle-so their driving styles must be really close.

“They have little different things about them, but unless you have a trained eye to see it, most people don’t even notice it.”

Despite being a supportive family and team, Cody and Kyle (21st) are quick to point out that they’re currently ahead of Mark (26th) in the points’ standings, so far this year.

“They’re poking it in on me good,” Mark said about his sons giving him a hard time. “It kind of makes it a lot more fun. Last time, we joke around with ‘What’s the hold up back there?’ It makes it a lot more fun. The slow lap guy usually gets the crappiest job.”

The Kleimans aren’t the only local racers taking part in the Pro Light division. Gladstone’s Scott Beauchamp is setting his sights on showcasing the improvements his team has made from last year, to this year.

“The first year, we put a brand new truck together and put it together through scratch and there was a learning curve,” Beauchamp said. “Now, we figured out the suspension, we figured out the gear rations, we got a lot better feel for adjustments needed for the track. We’re going to be a lot faster this season compared to last season, for sure. We definitely got some high hopes for Bark River.”

For Beauchamp’s team, he plans on running two different strategies this weekend.

“Number one thing is to stay clean and not get in any mishaps, and from there, just marching to a podium finish,” Beauchamp said about Saturday’s race. “I think we have a podium finish in our team’s efforts. At least a top five would be a huge accomplishment for us, on the Saturday race.

“Sunday, we’ll come out in full guns and lay it out on the line cause we’ll have a couple weeks before Crandon to fix the truck.”

Meanwhile, Scott’s cousin, Dan, from Escanaba, will begin his quest for a third consecutive Super Stock title, with a strong start to the season at Bark River. Last season, Dan held the lead in both Bark River races, before mechanical failures prevented him from finishing the race each day.

“The biggest thing is to finish the race,” Dan said. “As long as the truck is willing to finish, I’m sure we’ll be running upfront, somewhat.”

With two straight series championships under his belt, Dan doesn’t feel that major changes are needed to be done to his truck, this year. Instead, minor adjustments to improve the trucks durability is what his team has been focusing on.

“We changed a few things, but the truck worked so good how it was, you try not to change too much because you don’t want to lose what we had,” Dan said. “Basically, we’re going to be running the same setup, with some minor durability changes.”

For Dan and the rest of the Super Stock division, they’ll most likely be competing in a crowd that will be larger than initially predicted. With the cancellation of the St. Louis event, the Pro division racers are making up the missed date, at Bark River, this weekend.

“The more people, the better,” Dan said. “And the more opportunity for me to find that right sponsor, or the right person that wants to take me to the pro level. I’m at the point of the career where I would like to move up, but it’s just a money situation. I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone and meeting new people.”

Felch’s Chad Hord enters the weekend with the Pro 2 division points lead. Hord currently sits in first with 91 points, 10 more than second place C.J. Greaves.

Hord won the opening race of the year, but then finished second to C.J. Greaves the next three races. Greaves’ 10th place finish in the first race of the year, is the reason for the point differential between him and Hord.

Racing begins on Friday night with the Sportsmen class being featured on the evening’s lineup. The Stock Truck and Classix will begin at 4:35 p.m. Dan Beauchamp’s Super Stock Truck division will begin at approximately 6:55 p.m.

Saturday features a full slate of racing, beginning at 11:45 a.m. with the Stock Truck and Classix, and finishes up with the Pro 4’s, which is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. Sunday racing begins at 11:45 a.m. with with a Sportsman Challenge race and closes out with the Pro 4 Division at 2:30 p.m. Autograph signings will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.