EVENT: CHAMPIONSHIP OFF-ROAD RACING

New series, same really fast guys By Harlan Foley

Kyle Chaney (91) and Rodney VanEperen (49) frequently battle hard in the Pro Mod class for turbocharged machines. Short-course racing challenges a CVT car like the Can-Am.

Championship Off-Road Racing

The ongoing saga of Midwest short-course racing continues. This year it has opened yet another chapter. The International Series of Champions (ISOC) created a new short-course, off-road series—Championship Off-Road. Championship Off-Road is promoting short-course truck, buggy and SxS racing throughout Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota this season.

Championship Off-Road is the latest group to try their hand at this sport, following in the footsteps of TORC and, most recently, the Lucas Oil Series. After the dissolution of the Lucas Oil Midwest Short-Course League, ISOC worked with leadership from Crandon International Raceway, Bark River Raceway and ERX Motor Park, as well as industry experts, to create a unified series that will honor the legacy of the sport while blending in some much-needed progressive change. So, how has this newest iteration of short-course racing done so far? Pretty well, especially considering the circumstances.

Only normally aspirated, non-turbo cars are allowed in the Pro Stock class, and it has largely been a Yamaha class, with CJ Greaves (33) leading the charge, but that is changing.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

The Championship Off-Road team announced a five-race schedule as the bread and butter of short-course racing tracks, including Crandon, ERX, Dirt City and Bark River. Then COVID-19 hit, and its related shutdowns wreaked havoc on just about everything. The series took the pandemic in stride and reorganized on the fly, moving the Bark River round to a second race at ERX when Michigan shut down public gatherings.

Robert Loire’s Polaris RS1 has won a round and is second in Pro Stock points behind double-class leader Greaves. The single-seat RS1 is a narrow car, so it takes wide, complex nerf bars!

Championship Off-Road Racing

Communication has been vital, and if you ask two of the top drivers in the SxS classes, the series is getting it right. Moving quickly and getting the information out to the teams has been quick and easy.

Jason Luburgh sits third in points in the ultra-competitive Pro Mod class. All of the cars are getting faster, and Polaris and Can-Am are biting at the class-leading Yamahas.

“We’re halfway through the first year, and they’re doing an awesome job keeping everything rolling and giving us places to race, especially with all of the crazy stuff going on,” said SxS racer CJ Greaves. “We’re excited to have places to race and an awesome series to be a part of. They’re going to continue to grow and add interest to the series, and that’s what we need for the sport.”

CJ Greaves and his Yamaha have been a dominant short-course combo in Pro Stock and in Pro Mod with a GYTR turbo kit. The Yamaha gearbox can handle the sustained full-throttle running.

Championship Off-Road Racing

Greaves is leading both Pro Mod and Pro Stock points right now, but the days of him and his fire-breathing Yamaha running away with the show are over. There’s competition from every major manufacturer—well, except Honda, but we hear that may be changing soon.

Short-course racing is tight, close, and rough and tumble. Plus, drivers and cars eat a lot of track. Belts hate the intense full-load, full-throttle racing, so the Yamahas thrive.

GOING RACING

In the four Pro Stock (normally aspirated, non-turbo) races held so far at two venues, Greaves won three times in his Yamaha, while Robert Loire has won one in his Polaris. Jason Luburgh sits third in points, also driving a Polaris. Zac Zakowski is fourth in his Yamaha, while Arctic Cat is making inroads with Jack Letourneu and Jeremy Houle. All still have a legitimate shot at taking the 2020 Pro Stock title.

“The competition is stout. Between Robert, Jeremy Houle, Jack Latourneu, and myself, it’s been a mix-up all year,” said Greaves. “The battle is definitely tight in Pro Stock.”

Jeremy Houle is part of the two-pronged Arctic Cat XX war on the Yamahas and Polaris. At this point he still has a realistic shot at the 2020 title, along with several others!

Championship Off-Road Racing

The same scenario is playing out in Pro Modified (turbocharged). The top three in points—Greaves, Kyle Chaney, and Rodney VanEperen—are separated by just two points. Greaves has won two races, with VanEperen and Chaney winning one apiece. Yamaha has come into its own in Pro Mod, but Chaney is ready with his 2020 Can-Am RR, and he will be a force in the title chase.

“It’s going to be a tough battle all year long in Pro Mod,” said Chaney. “The cars just keep getting faster year after year. The new 2020 Can-Am with the bigger turbo is working great, though, and it’s very fast.”

Greaves agrees, and says the championship is likely to come down to the final lap: “The series is definitely going to be exciting, and people need to keep watching.”

Some of the Midwest tracks are in lush, green areas with elevation changes. Kyle Chaney airs his Can-Am X3 out at one of them.

For information on the series, go to www.champoffroad.com.

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