Bark River off-road races roar

BARK RIVER – It’s safe to say Keegan Kincaid is in the zone.

In a Pro-Light race in which he was only briefly challenged by C.J. Greaves, Kincaid’s truck which simply appeared faster than the rest of the pack, soared through a wire-to-wire finish, securing his fifth consecutive victory – believed to be a TORC Series record.

“We put a lot of effort into making this a top-notch truck and hard work pays off,” said Kincaid, a native of Crandon, Wis. “This track got torn up so bad this weekend but we didn’t make any changes to the truck. It just ran so great, it’s ran great the last five races and that’s why we’ve been up here five in a row.”

The victory puts Kincaid third in the overall points battle. Doug Mittag came into the weekend atop the standings, but a flat tire relegated him to a 17th place finish and his teammate, young Jarrett Brooks, who took third, took over the points lead.

The rest of the Pro Light pack was very competitive Sunday at Bark River International Raceway. Featuring drivers’ Cody and Mark Kleiman of Wilson, Scott Beauchamp of Gladstone and Nick Baumgartner of Iron River, there was a local flavor to the race.

The father-son combo of Mark and Cody Kleiman started the race side by side, and after briefly challenging for the top-five, they finished seventh and eighth respectively. The senior Kleiman, Mark moved up to sixth and held it for a few laps before being overtaken by Brian Osborn.

Cody, who drives the No. 48 truck, shares it with his brother Kyle, who drove on Saturday. Kyle called racing with his family in a Pro class, a dream come true.

“It’s been a blessing to race with my dad and to compete with him at this level. It’s crazy to think that we’re even here,” Kleiman said. “Being on the home track is just amazing, with all our fans.”

Racing against big time sponsorships in the top tier of the class might seem intimidating to some, but Kleiman has a different perspective.

“They put their pants on just like everyone else every day in the morning, they’re just normal people too,” he said. “The money and support they have is nice, but we work our butts off all week to get where we are here and it’s just a blast and a blessing that we’re even here.

“It’s been a fun weekend, finally a good weekend – we all finished the race. We needed it, we’ve had some bad luck this year and that sucked, but we have some momentum with Sturgis, S.D. coming up. My brother’s birthday is Aug. 1 and mine is Aug. 5, the same day I’m going to race. So, it’s going to be pretty epic for all of us.”

Baumgartner, who competed in the Sochi Olympics in snowboard cross, has a new truck and a new sponsor in Pro Light racing. Driving the No. 12 Sle-Co truck, Baumgartner is still figuring out how to get in tune with it, finishing 11th Sunday, but he’s optimistic that things are going to come together for him, and when they do, look out.

“Jeff Sleeger called me up and asked me if I wanted to run his truck and I was happy to do it,” Baumgartner said.

“We’re working together, me and Travis (Dinsmore) with the rest of the team trying to find ways to make the truck fit me, then working together for both of us to get faster. We’ll both be in the fight very soon. I’m going to get there, we’re doing to get caught up. I’m going to some testing in Crandon (today) and we’re coming out. Big things are coming. I’ve set high expectations for myself.”

Baumgartner’s Sle-Co teammate, Dinsmore was one of multiple drivers who fell victim to torn up tires over the weekend.

“This track definitely kicks up rocks, it can make you go through some tires,” said Baumgartner. “The team dynamic, Travis and I have is awesome. This is a great crew and I fit in great with these guys. It’s awesome.”

Many of the local drivers came up short of the podium on Sunday. Brad Erickson of Wilson had bad luck in the 1600 Buggy class when he rolled over his car on a turn, in the first lap after the competition yellow flag. He was unable to finish the race and his buggy had to be towed away following the race.

Danny Beauchamp of Escanaba was stagnant in the Super Stock Truck class, starting and finishing in the middle of the pack. Current points leader Don Demeny won that race.

In Pro Light, Scott Beauchamp placed 19th.

Chad Hord of Felch put an end to the podium drought for local drivers however, when he made a huge recovery in the Pro 2WD class. In the second lap of the race, C.J. Greaves and Hord collided in mid-air, causing Hord to nosedive on a jump. The setback put Hord bringing up the rear.

Greaves would later apologize to Hord on the podium, in a classy move, saying the collision was inadvertent and unintentional. Hord was able to move into fifth before the compassion yellow flag, and when the race resumed he continued working his way back up. His toughest battle was going from fourth to third, which consumed most of his time. With only two laps to go after taking third, Hord wasn’t able to make a serious run at the leaders, but the podium finish after a big setback was satisfying enough. Greaves finished first followed by Jeff Kincaid.

“I’m absolutely happy,” he said. “After what happened, to battle my way up, I think we had a good truck to beat today. We proved it. We came from the back and started running the leaders down, we just ran out of time.

“I certainly didn’t expect that out of CJ and I’m sure he didn’t try to. Him and I have raced each other clean. I’m just glad I was able to battle my way back and race with these guys. To be on the box again for BOSS Snowplow, AMSOIL, Maxxis Tires again, all the people who put us here, it’s just good to be here for them.”

Hord is perennially near the top of the pack in the 2WD class and currently sits second in the points standings behind Greaves, but he’s run into trouble at Bark River. Aside from Sunday’s race, Hord flipped his truck on a tire marker on this track in June.

“I’ve won here at Bark River. I’ve won on the East Coast, I’ve won on the West Coast, I’ve won in Crandon, but this is my home track,” said Hord. “I just want to say, I like the Bark River track, but I think it has something against me.”

In Super Buggy, John Frana made it a weekend sweep, weaving his way in front. John Graves took the Pro 4WD victory to also complete a weekend sweep. Other results were not made available at press time.

The next stop for TORC Series and Midwest Off Road Racing is Aug. 5-6 in Sturgis, S.D.