(Story by Dijon Davis of Terracross with additions by Bruce Strand of Star News)
The Terracross Championship kicked off its 2012 race season with a massive event at ERX Motor Park in Elk River last Friday and Saturday.
Local driver Andrew Carlson provided some of the highlights in this two-day event that marked the return of Terracross racing to the ATV and UTV racing world and featured top action sports names such as Rath, Gust, Beckman, Burandt and Thacker.
The drivers competed on a brutal course built within the confines of the dedicated motorsports park. Jumps, mud, rocks as well as log and tire obstacles made for intense competition and proved highly-challenging for the field of experienced drivers.
Doug Gust took an early lead in Friday’s Pro Terracross Side X Side main with Carlson slotting his Polaris RZR in second place. Gust’s machine suffered a mechanical issue about halfway through the race allowing Carlson to take the lead and cruise to the win.
Carlson, 19, a pro snocross driver but an amateur in Terracross, had to qualify for the pro class through a Pro/Am race earlier Friday. With the win in the Pro ranks during Friday’s main event, he automatically was seated in the Pro ranks for the following day.
“There were two of the biggest names in four-wheel racing, Doug Gust and Darryl Rath, who’ve been racing 20-some years and have multiple championships,” noted Carlson. “So it was pretty cool to race in that class and win.”
Carlson got interviewed by a CBS reporter after winning the pro final.
In the Pro Terracross side-x-side final, Carlson provided the weekend’s best entertainment has he churned from seventh place all the way up to second. He passed Rath while hurtling over a pile of tires, 40 feet from the finish, to gain the second-place position.
“Gust was too far ahead, so I couldn’t catch him,” said Carlson, 19, currently taking Bethel University online classes so he has time for racing.
He had qualified sixth, so he had to take the back row at the outset with five cars in front and five in back.
Attendance on Saturday was about the same as ERX gets on a good Thursday night of regular beater class racing. The races were filmed by CBS Sports Network and will be aired as part of Sunday night race programming July 8, 15, and 22.
“This is a made for TV event, like monster trucks,” said Pat Bourgeios, ERZ media relations official. He added, “Andrew stole the show a couple times, and some other local drivers did well, too, like Brennan Plaisted.”
ERZ had TV cameras on hand again Thursday evening for the third of seven Beater Cross events. A Lucas Oil-sponsored show called “On the Edge” was taping.
In Friday’s Pro Terracross Utility Quad main, Gust took the lead again but the course took its toll on his equipment again when a flat tire ended his run. Rory Beckman took over the lead and cruised to the win. Gust’s luck turned on Saturday as he not only won the main, he nabbed the holeshot and setting a blistering pace through the Terracross course, leading flag-to-flag.
Rath put in a similar performance in the Pro Terracross Side X Side main. On green, Rath’s Polaris RZR shot off the line and into the lead and he quickly gapped the field with Gust and Carlson in tow. Rath put on a clinic, leading flag-to-flag to take his first Terracross Side X Side win.
Another local guy in the spotlight was Jon Guetter of Princeton, who won the Speed & Style finals both Friday and Saturday, a competition involving both speed and style points awarded by judges.
Dave Elias won Friday’s ProAm Side X Side main while Josh Schutte came back to win Saturday’s race. Zac Zakowski won both ProAm Utility Quad mains.
Extreme sports athlete Jimmy Blaze capped off the weekend when he attempted to flip his Polaris RZR. Blaze uses a stock RZR with only a reinforced cage and containment seat for added safety and Fox Racing Shox specially-valved to help the vehicle rotate off a ramp designed by Blaze. The flip was the first-ever in front of television cameras. Blaze came in too fast and over-rotated the flip, landing the vehicle on its rear bumper. Fans can see it all on CBS Sports Spectacular:
- Sunday, July 8: Terracross Championship, 9 p.m.
- Sunday, July 15: Terra In The Pit, 9 p.m.
- Sunday, July 22: Terra In The Pit, 9 p.m.