Race Write-up from Goertz Ranch (2018 TORCS Rd 4)
A week ago, I loaded up my new toy (2018 RZR Turbo) and made the 3-hour journey to Rockne, TX to compete in the 4th round of the 2018 TORCS cross-country series. I was pumped about this race for three reasons. First, this was my favorite property to race on last season. It is picturesque, and the track is wide and fast! Second, this was my first time to race my new RZR. Third, this was my first race in 6 months (unless you count the January TORCS race where a rock busted a rim during the hot lap and I got a DNS… Ugh!) Below is my race write-up.
Rockne, TX… it’s a tiny town about 8 miles south of Bastrop. This picturesque property has lots of pecan groves, a few creek crossings and a large pasture area.
When I arrived at the track on Sunday, it was warm (mid-80s), dry, and dusty. As I pulled into a parking spot next to the track, my biggest concern was the thick dust that seemed to hover nonstop above the track as dirtbikes raced by. The weather forecast showed a big chance of rain that day, and I had already driven through lots of the wet stuff on the way to the race.
But alas, it hadn’t yet arrived here.
About an hour before the UTV race was schedule to start, the sky opened up and it began pouring down rain for a half-hour or so. That delayed the start of our race by about 30 minutes.
Normally, my teenage son (Cash) rides shotgun with me. Unfortunately, he had homework to do, so I was racing solo on this day. I prefer to have a co-pilot for two simple reasons. It’s always more fun to share the racing experience with someone else, and (more important) it’s nice to have a counter-weight on the right side of the car!
Speaking of “dead weight,” I saw my old buddy Fred Zepeda in the parking lot before the race. LOL I used to race ATVs with Fred in TORN series, and I haven’t seen him since I broke my wrist during an ATV race near Bulcher, Tx. That day was bitter sweet for me b/c it was my very last ATV race, but also the reason I started racing UTVs.
Anyway, I offered the co-pilot seat to Fred after I found out he was only planning to spectate. Fred accepted and the “dynamic duo” was born! J Together, we would surely be an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE… except for the fact that this would be Fred’s first time to race in a UTV, and also my first time to race a RZR Turbo (which I’m learning is a different animal than my old 900xp). Okay so maybe we weren’t unstoppable, but we were determined to have fun regardless.
PARADE LAP & HOT LAP:
When it finally came time to start the parade lap and hot lap around 3pm, we had a few dozen UTVs gathered near the starting line. The ground was soaked with rain, so it was obvious that we were about to give my brand new, shiny RZR Turbo a mud bath. (more on this later)
When the parade lap started, Fred and I got in line and followed the vehicle in front of us slowly around the muddy course. We were trying to locate any dangerous spots so we could remember them during the race. We found one spot in particular that makes a hard 90 degree turn around a large tree in the woods. I was slippery as ice around that turn and we started sliding towards a creek on the left side just past the tree. Luckily we were going slow and I was able to avoid taking a swim during the practice lap. Fred agreed to remind me of that turn every lap and he did!
Other than that slippery turn next, the biggest obstacles were a sudden drop off into an offcamber creek crossing and 2 short, harsh dropoffs near the back of the course that tended to bottom out my shocks if I hit them at any speed. Of course, there was plenty of mud to deal with… TONS OF MUD… and the challenges it usually brings (no traction, hard to see, clogged radiator fins, etc.).
Unlike last year, they took out the whooped out hill climb that turned into MOON CRATERS at the top. That hill was tricky if you hit it fast, so I was glad it was gone this year.
I counted 5 UTVs lined up on the starting line of the Turbo class (including mine). I could be wrong, but I think they were mostly RZR Turbos except for Bubba’s Yamaha YXZ.
Next were 17 UTVs in the Non-turbo Class, and they were lined up on 3 separate lines with staggard start times (which was an improvement over last year when we had 15 UTVs starting together in one row… well, actually only 14 could fit on the row, so Cash and I started behind everyone… ugh! But that’s okay, we picked them off one at a time and ended up 2nd that day).
Behind the Non-turbo Class was the 800cc class. I’m not sure how many competed in that class.
The starting area was in a large grassy pasture area right next to the parking area. From the starting line, we had approximately 40 feet to the first (left) turn around a big tree. Brian Hill came out to the starting line to wish us good luck (apparently, we looked like we needed some luck! LOL) Fred and I said a quick prayer, fist bumped and then I focused all of my attention on the flag man. I was ready to pounce as soon as he waived the green flag.
When the green flag finally when up, everyone left the line… EXCEPT ME! Say What??? Apparently, I didn’t have my foot on the brake when I turned the key… took me a few seconds before I figured it out and then we finally cranked up and headed to the first turn in last position. Not a great way to start the race. 😕
LAPS 1 & 2:
When we finally caught up to the pack at the second turn, everyone was slipping and sliding. Suddenly, the guy immediately ahead suddenly spun out to the right and I was able to pass him quickly. Alllrighty then! At least we aren’t in last place anymore.
Not long after that, we caught up to the 3rd place UTV and he spun out too. We quickly passed him. YES!!! Fred and I were getting excited, but also nervous b/c the track was extremely sloppy for the first few laps and it could just as easily been us that spun out. So we pressed on and continued hoping to avoid making any mistakes and perhaps we could catch the 2nd place UTV.
I don’t recall exactly which lap it was, but I think it was around the 2nd lap when we eventually caught the next racer. It was tricky trying to pass when both cars are sliding around turns and trying desperately to find traction. It was all I could do to avoid hitting trees, so that made it extra nerve-wracking to try to pass someone in these conditions. Luckily, we were able to make a clean pass by squeezing in front of the 2nd place racer at the next turn.
As the race wore on, parts of the track started to get more tacky, but other parts (like the area immediately before and after the scoring shute) remained as slick as owl poop (don’t ask me how I know this! LOL).
2nd HALF OF THE RACE:
Later in the race, we came around a turn (after the slippery spot next to the creek) and someone waived at us to slow down/be cautious. As we slowly made the left turn, there was an up-side down Yamaha and several folks pulled aside to help the racer get back on 4 wheels. This scene was yet another reminder to be careful on this slippery track.
Not long after that, we came upon a disabled RZR on the outside of a muddy right-hand turn (about ¼ mile from the scoring shute). I didn’t see anyone inside the car. But I did notice that it was missing the left rear wheel and tire! Yikes.
We caught up to a few lappers during the last few laps. Some pulled over easily and others made me work to get around them. Even though they weren’t in my class, it was a thrill to pass them. Having a Turbo this race made passing them a lot easier than if I was still in my old 900xp!
As we came into the scoring shute area for the last lap, Cory Williams (Non-turbo Class) caught up to us and honked to let us know he was behind us. I couldn’t tell who it was or if he was in my class, so I pressed on. After the scoring shute, we ran past the starting area and entered the first set of big trees with wide, zig-zag turns running through them. It was still very slippery and hard to make the turns with any speed. Cory was still close to us, so I asked Fred if that UTV was in my class or not. Fred said he didn’t think so. Not long after that, the track made its way to the long, fast 1/8th mile section between the parking lot and a wooded area, I pulled off and waived Cory by. From there, I stayed on his tail for the rest of the lap until we finished the race. I figured there was no point in trying to hold him off b/c he’s not in my class.
When they announced the official winners, I was very excited to take 2nd place position on the podium. I’m also grateful my old buddy Fred was able to join me for this crazy adventure. Hopefully, he got the “bug” and will soon join us on the TORCS course as a fellow racer. 😁
The only NEGATIVE about this race was the ***3 HOURS*** it took to me this morning clean the mud off my RZR! 🙄 But it was well-worth it for all the fun we had on the race course.
As always, I have to say a BIG THANK YOU to TORCS for hosting a FUN event and for building such an awesome course! I hope you enjoyed my race write-up.