By: Hord Off-Road
ELK RIVER, Minn. – TORC: The Off-Road Championship Series presented by AMSOIL introduced the addition of UTV Pro racing classes to three of its events for the 2016 race season. The two UTV classes include UTV Pro, which is a 1,000-cc stock class, and the UTV Modified, which allows for factory-installed superchargers, turbochargers, a modified wheel base and an upgraded clutch. ERX Motor Park was the debut for the UTV racers.
Gabe Johnson, a 16-year-old from Felch, Mich., has had a long-time interest in racing. His desire for racing built as he grew up around the race track and spent many summers helping in the Hord Racing pits. With the addition of the UTV series to TORC this season, Johnson and his dad Paul started pursing Gabe’s racing dreams and started building a Pro UTV. In promotion of the UTV series for the TORC series, Hord Racing has partnered with Johnson for the 2016 race season.
The weekend was full of excitement and nerves for Johnson as he made his Pro UTV debut. Johnson runs a Polaris RZR 1000 in the series. Friday, he got to run his Pro UTV during practice after some suspension upgrades. His practice sessions went great and he couldn’t wait for race time.
Saturday’s starting positions were determined by a draw, with Johnson drawing seventh. Off the start, he was able to quickly move into the fifth position and was closing in on fourth when he encountered a mechanical failure and lost the driving belt, causing him to pull off the track. After the disappointing finish in Johnson’s first TORC race, he was determined to make changes for Sunday and immediately started prepping for Sunday’s race.
With a busy night of preparation, Johnson was ready to go Sunday. With the 11th-place finish on Saturday, Johnson would have to start in the back of the pack for Sunday’s race. Johnson knew he had his work cut out to get to the front of the pack. With the drop of the green flag, Johnson picked off competitors one by one and, at the mandatory caution, he was running sixth. On lap eight there was a red flag related to a competitor breaking in the middle of the track. During the restart, Johnson faced issues when he went to restart the motor and had an under voltage fault, which caused his UTV to go into limp mode. Johnson finished the race, but lost two positions and finished eighth overall.
Johnson was disappointed with the weekend at ERX Motor Park but is looking forward to getting back out on the track at Bark River, Mich. His sponsors include Super ATV, AMSOIL, Maxxis, Race-Driven, Powersports and Motor Master CV Axles. Make sure to like and follow GRJ Motorsports on Facebook for season updates.