Cash, TX… it’s a tiny town about 5 miles south of Greenville and 45 miles east of Dallas. Miller Ranch has a nice combo of tight woods, open pastures and an MX section. I’m no stranger to this property b/c I have raced here many times. A decade ago, this property was called Caddo Point and was used to host ATVCCS races and other fun events like the Maxxis 6-hour race. Lots of great memories were made on this property including this 2006 race as featured in ATV Riders… http://www.atvriders.com/atvracing/a…dopointxc.html
On Sunday, we enjoyed a beautiful fall day with temps near the mid-60s and sunny skies. The track was mostly dry and dusty in certain areas, especially in the MX section. The bright sun made seeing the course a challenge at times, especially when racing through the woods where my (dusty) goggles would repeatedly pick up a short burst of glare from sunshine and then shade from overhead trees as we raced through the thick woods.
When I last raced in TORN (round 2 of this season), UTV racers still had the opportunity to practice on the track for an hour in the morning. I’m sure TORN had their reasons, but they have since replaced this practice session with a single parade lap immediately before the UTV race begins. Personally, I preferred the 1-hour practice lap for two reasons. First, the practice laps allowed me to learn the track better so I would know exactly where to slow down for technical terrain and/or dangerous spots. Second, I got more time on the track for my money (1 hour of practice plus 1 hour of race time). 2 hours on the track seemed to make my 8 to 10 hour round trip more bearable than only 1 hour on the track plus a slow parade lap. But I digress…
When it came time to start the parade lap around 2:45pm, approximately 40 UTVs randomly gathered around near the starting line in no particular order… it closely resembled an I-45 traffic jam during rush hour. As the 5.5 mile parade lap began, racers slowly made a single file line and entered the track near the back section of the MX track and then it soon entered the tight, twisty woods.
As soon as we completed the parade lap, I darted out of my RZR and headed to the edge of the woods for a much needed pee break. Several racers did the same thing and we all had a good laugh.
After the parade lap, Curtis (TORN official) gathered the racers and announced that he made it through the 5.5 mile course with no problems in his 65” side-by-side and so everyone should have no problems making it through the tight wooded trails. Just as he finished his statement, someone called out over his walky-talky radio that a racer was stuck and/or broke-down in the tight woods. LOL I guess that was a sign and Curtis decided to re-route the course to avoid the long section of tight woods. That was welcome news to me and several UTV racers standing next to me. Instead, he gave us a choice and we decided to race a 3-mile course with less woods than the original course.
900cc UTV CLASS:
A total of 4 Polaris side-by-sides lined up on the starting line of the UTV 900cc class, including Ethan on my left, myself and Cash, Sonny to my right and Leon to my far right. I was very grateful to be able to compete with my fellow 900cc racers rather than the dozens of much faster 1000cc and Turbo-powered UTVs lined up ahead of us.
When we lined up for the start, we had approximately 40 feet to the first left turn that brought us onto the back section of the MX track. The green flag went up and off we went. My 900xp fired right up and left the line quickly. I won the hole shot and held the lead on the MX section. However, someone was wrong… HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! LOL The power steering on my RZR was not functioning at all and it was a real bear to turn the wheel, especially at slow speeds. I knew that was going to be a big problem during the race unless I could re-start the motor and get the power steering to reset. Before we entered the tight woods, I pulled off the trail and re-started my engine. Unfortunately, that allowed Ethan and Sonny just enuf time to pass me before I could get back on the course. Grrr. (I think Leon was still behind me)
LAPS 1 THRU 4:
As we entered the tight woods, I quickly realized that re-starting my motor didn’t reset the power steering, and I was still struggling to make every tight turn in the woods. To make matters worse, my engine kept stalling every time I slowed down to make a tight turn or to maneuver through a creek crossing. This was very concerning, and I began to doubt whether I could possibly finish the first lap, much less the entire race. Ugh.
Once we left the tight woods, we eventually made our way through pasture areas and then more tight woods where we had to slow to a crawl to squeeze through very tight woods. Then we hit more pasture areas with creek crossings thrown in to keep it interesting and finally back to the MX section. The MX area was dusty and that made it tough to see at times. After the MX section, we entered the scoring schute and then hit more woods and pasture areas before coming back to the starting line area (near the back side of the MX track).
As the race continued, I figured out how to mitigate some of the mechanical problems. First, I drove with 2 feet on the pedals (DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!) so as to keep the engine revs up whenever I slowed down for creek crossings the like. Most of the time, this kept the motor from stalling. Second, I switched to 2wd and started steering by power sliding around corners whenever possible. This worked well to help mitigate the loss of power steering so long as I had sufficient room to power slide. But alas, I could not use this technique in the tight woods where I had to slow to a crawl many times to sqeeze through the trees.
As the race progressed, Cash and I started seeing more and more UTVs on the sides of the trail — apparent victims of the tight woods. At one section in the middle of the tight woods, it resembled a UTV GRAVEYARD with 6 or 7 UTVs on both sides of the trail. Ugh.
LAPS 5 & 6:
As the race progressed, faster racers started to catch and lap me. I pulled over and let them pass whenever I saw them. On the 5th lap, I was passed by one of the PROs near the end of a pasture are and soon thereafter we both caught up to a slower UTV racer ahead of us. That racer let both the PRO and me go around him. Then I spotted the number on the slower UTV. It was Sonny! That meant we somehow managed to re-take 2nd place despite our mechanical issues. Woo Hoo! We were excited and pressed onward.
On lap 6, I recall seeing my old pal Zack pulled off to the side of the trail near a long straight run through a dry creekbed. I slowed and asked if he was okay and he say yes. So I pressed onward. As much as I hated seeing my buddy wreck his UTV, it did remind me of old times racing with him last season (2015) when he seemed to never be able to finish a race for the first part of that year. Hopefully Zack will have better luck next season.
As we started the 7th and final lap, Cash and I were excited to continue to hold onto 2nd place position. I was relieved to see the end of the race approaching soon b/c my arms were tired from man-handling my RZR without the aid of power steering. As we entered the MX section near the finish line, we hit a bumpy whoops section and then made a right turn towards one last hill and then the finish line on the other side. My RZR suddenly started making noises as we ran over the whoops section at a fast pace. Then it happened…
My RZR engine rev’d up and my UTV started coasting to a stop… WHAT? NO WAY!!! I quickly stopped and tried to find low gear… Nothing! Then out of desperation, I tried to find reverse… Nothing again! Just then, a group of spectators walked up to check on us. They (wisely) said that my CVT belt probably broke. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? My belt broke just 25 yards from the checkered flag???
Just then, I looked up to see Sonny pass me and re-take 2nd place… Nooooo! The group of spectators pushed my RZR off the track and then one of them (TRENT) kindly offered to push me across the finish line with his RZR. Why not? I got nothing to lose at this point. So Trent gave me a push and a few seconds later Cash and I rolled across the finish line with lots of laughter and big smiles. What an exciting day of racing!
Congrats to Ethan for taking the win and to Sonny for finishing in 2nd place. Despite my mechanical problems, I thoroughly enjoyed racing with them and Leon too. Cash and I look forward to next season! And I want to say a big thanks to TRENT for the push and HUNTER for towing my RZR back to my trailer.
As always, I have to say a big THANK YOU to TORN for putting on another FUN event!
PS – If you enjoyed my write-up above, you might also enjoy my new book called “ENGAGING COLLEGE STUDENTS: A Fun and Edgy Guide for Professors.” This silly book is about my experiences teaching (part-time) at a local junior college for the past 15 years. Even if you aren’t a college instructor or student, you may find there are plenty of funny stories and amusing examples to keep you entertained. It’s available for sale on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, eBay and other websites. Happy reading!