SHORT-COURSE, ROUNDS 2-4: MIDAMERICA OUTDOORS VISIONS OFF-ROAD
Mid-season wrap-up, Nitrocross opener and much more! By the staff of Dirt Wheels Photos by Dirt Nation
MidAmerica Outdoors continues to grow and evolve in the midst of one of the most lucrative UTV short-course racing series in the country. The 2023 MAO Short-Course SxS Championship Series per-round and year-end payouts total $525,000! The series made the trip to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, for its second round, and MAO added new sections to its short-course circuit to create a Nitrocross track for its biggest event of the year—Visions Off-Road. Visions added Travis Pastrana’s Nitrocross and Nitro Circus freestyle shows to an already full week of short-course SxS racing, truck racing, pro rodeo, pit bike and R/C car races, Ultra4 rock bouncing, concerts, Barbie Jeep racing, a pool party, off-road 101 training sessions, SxS barrel racing, guided trail rides, kids’ zone, and much more.
MAO’s third short-course round was held in conjunction with Memorial Mayhem over Memorial Day weekend, and the festival included much of the same activities as Visions. This summer will also heat up with the Lifted Truck Nationals (September 8–10th), and MAO will also host the Championship Off-Road Tour series on September 22nd–24th, where CORT will crown its 2023 series Non-Pro-class champions. MAO’s influence continues to grow with Champ, Ultra4 and National Rock Racing, attracting their SxS racers to the premier series and destination. The latter will join the MAO series finals on October 19th–22nd.
MAO is also a Polaris Adventures Outfitter, so patrons can rent RZRs and Rangers, along with cabins or 200-plus RV hook-ups. Explore 1600 acres of wooded trails and enjoy concerts at the main stage. A huge swimming pool also has a lazy tubing course next to the food-truck court. More cabins are continually being built in addition to the Coconuts tiki bar in back of the pro shop, general store, coffee shop and restaurant. MAO is going to build a Championship-style short-course on the highlands north of the mud and pit bike tracks, along with three drag strips, to bring in even more racers, campers, and spectators.
MAO SXS RACING RECAP
MAO has 16 classes of short-course SxS racing, and the defending 2022 Pro champions were Scott Champion in Turbos and Collin Truett in N/A 1000s. But, it was former champion Kyle Chaney who took the first 2023 Pro Turbo win with a 1-1, and fellow Championship icon Owen VanEpren who dominated the Pro N/As with his YXZ1000R. Truett had his new RS1 (see the race build starting on page 92) for the second MAO round at Lucas Oil Speedway, which was once part of the Championship series, and the Pro N/A field had twenty-two 1000s joining 23 Pro Turbos on the fast course. Each class had a qualifier and a main, but MAO combines both races for the overall with a motocross-style Olympic scoring system (low score wins).
All but the 170s had Championship-style rolling starts, and the N/A 1000s were up first. VanEpren carried his momentum through the first race, but Chase Carr was all over Owen’s rear bumper. Truett and Cross Kirchmeier battled hard, with Collin taking third. In the longer main, it was Kirchmeier on point in his Talon, but VanEpren knew he didn’t have to pass Cross to take the overall win. Kirchmeier was second overall, with Carr third and Truett fourth. A stacked field of Pro Turbos had a high-speed slugfest, with Cody Miller holding off Chaney for wins in both races and the overall. Kyle went 2-2 for second, while Kory Willis (4-3) edged out Hunter Miller (3-4) for the final podium spot.
Returning to MidAmerica Outdoors, the Pro N/A 1000s drew 19 entries, the same as Pro Turbos. VanEpren struggled in the first Pro N/A race, while Chase Carr put his RS1 ahead of Cross Kirchmeier, finishing 1.8 seconds ahead at the checkers. Truett was third. In the main, Kirchmeier fought back to win over Carr by 1 second and take the overall. Truett scored another third for third overall, and Kyler Holcomb was the top Yamaha pilot in fourth. The Miller brothers were on fire in the Pro Turbo class, with Cody carrying his momentum in the first race and Hunter a half second behind at the checkers. Chaney was third, some 4 seconds behind Hunter. In the main, the Millers and Chaney again battled up front, with Cody taking the overall win with a 1-1 and Hunter going 2-2. Chaney dropped back to 16th with a mechanical.
VISIONS OFF-ROAD SHORT-COURSE & NITROCROSS
Chase Carr carried momentum into the Pro Stock heat and beat Shawn Hess by 1.7 seconds with Connor Barry (Pol) in third, while Kirchmeier and Truett struggled mid-pack. Fifth in the heat, former Pro N/A champ Kainan Baker came back with a vengeance to win the main by a scant 0.287 seconds over Carr! Hess took third in the main for second overall behind Carr, while Baker’s comeback was good for third overall ahead of VanEpren. The Millers-Chaney feud continued in Pro Turbos, with Kyle scoring the heat win ahead of Cash LeCroy (Pol) and Kory Willis, while Hunter was fourth and Cody was sixth. Cody fought back in the main, taking the win over Hunter by less than a second with Chaney in third. That gave Kyle his second win, with Hunter in second and Cody third overall.
At U.S. Nitrocross rounds, SxS racers compete in identically prepared Rival Motorsports Can-Am X3 Turbos, so Kainan Baker, who was seventh in MAO short-course Pro Turbos, adapted quickly to the Nitrocross course and X3. Nitrocross SxS racers went through timed qualifying and were seeded into heats, with the top two finishers going directly to the mains. Others went on to the semis and then last-chance qualifiers to set the starting grids for the four-lap mains. Each racer had to take the longer joker section once in each race.
Baker dominated both mains. In the first-round main, his first lap was a scorching 01:18.176, and he bettered that on the third lap with a 01:17.732 on his way to the win ahead of Tyler Remmereid and Ben Maier. He won by 3.5 seconds. In the second round, conditions weren’t as prime, and Baker again dominated. He set the pace, but his first lap was the slowest before turning a pair of low 01:20s and then taking the joker on his last lap. Remmereid and Maier again filled out the podium, but Baker’s winning margin was down to 2.8 seconds.