For the Antigo Times
The 2017 season of TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL (TORC) has had a surplus of excitement. After seven racing rounds at four tracks, the series now heads to legendary RedBud, Aug. 12-13, where drivers will continue their quest for championship glory on a new custom built track. The 2017 points race is heating up with a tie for first between the father-son duo of Johnny and CJ Greaves in PRO 4. PRO 2 has been a wild ride featuring five different winners in the first seven rounds of racing, but class rookie Luke Johnson has risen to the lead. PRO Light, Mod UTV and Stock UTV have witnessed standout performances with Kyle Kleiman, Kyle Chaney and CJ Greaves leading their respective classes. The track, however, is not the only place where the action has taken place.
The series has also made significant strides behind the scenes. Starting in January 2016, TORC was acquired by new race owner/organizers MSI (Mountain Sports International). Throughout the last season and a half, TORC, under MSI’s direction, has remained committed to the development of the Series and its drivers. During the 2017 season, fans and drivers have started to see these positive changes taking place through renewed partnerships, a top notch broadcast product and improved driver counts.
“Managing and affecting change is always a challenge, especially in a sport rooted in tradition like short course off-road racing,” said TORC Series Director Ben Nelson. “The steps we have taken in 2017 are part of a long term vision designed to provide a platform of stability and growth for many years to come.”
2017 TORC Season at a Glance
- Multi-year agreement signed between TORC and Crandon
- Live digital broadcast views up 58%
- Unique web traffic up 15%
- TORC social media impressions up 30%
- 6.5 million minutes of TORC video content has been viewed on Facebook and YouTube
- Broadcast partnerships with beIN Sports and FOX Sports Australia
- Driver number growth in PRO 2 field
Renewed Partnership with Crandon International Raceway
Crandon International Off-Road Raceway has signed a multi-year agreement with MSI and TORC: The Off-Road Championship Series. The agreement ensures two TORC race weekends each season extending through 2020, a span including Crandon’s highly-anticipated 50th anniversary. The move comes after Crandon experienced a record-breaking attendance of 49,600 race fans over 2016’s Labor Day weekend.
Crandon International Raceway’s established two-weekend schedule (including June’s Brush Run event and Labor Day’s World Championship Weekend) has become an annual tradition for race fans across the country, and Crandon remains the sport’s premier destination. After a successful first year of partnership between Crandon and TORC, Crandon President Cliff Flannery is excited to work with TORC to foster the sport’s growth.
“At ﬁrst we were a bit skeptical, but soon became impressed with the progressive steps TORC has taken in creating an honest and professional atmosphere, their commitment to a solid media package and executing a top-notch series for racers, sponsors, fans and our sport. This new agreement reﬂects Crandon’s faith in TORC’s path toward building an exciting future for all of us.”
TORC organizers have been hard at work utilizing the latest technology to bring quality racing content to viewers around the world, providing maximum exposure for TORC sponsors, partners, and race teams. Digital analytics have seen healthy increases across the board. TV-quality live race broadcasts, available for free viewing on multiple websites and platforms, have received over a quarter of a million views year-to-date, up 58% from the same time frame in 2016. Unique web visitors on torcseries.com are up 15% and social impressions are up 30% over the same period. Additionally, during the first seven months of the year, 6.5 million minutes of TORC video content has been viewed on Facebook and YouTube.
In addition to the live streams and recorded races accessible anytime online, TORC is working with television networks to further the sport’s reach. On June 21, TORC announced a new broadcast partnership with beIN Sports, which can be accessed from a number of television providers including DISH, DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The station is featuring rounds from 2016 and 2017, airing 90-minute shows every Tuesday night for 26 weeks straight through October 2017.
In Canada, beIN Sports is broadcasting the full 3.5 hours of race coverage live each weekend.
Recently TORC also expanded its broadcast reach to even more fans with the addition of a new partnership with FOX Sports Australia. FOX Sports Australia Pty Limited (FOX SPORTS) is Australia’s leading producer of sports coverage and is home to Australia’s favorite subscription television sports channels as well as Australia’s number one multi-sports website and app. With nearly 20 hours of comprehensive coverage scheduled, Australian households will now be able to witness all 13 rounds of TORC PRO racing action.
PRO 2 Rule Changes
On February 9, 2017, TORC announced a redesign of the PRO 2 class rules, making the switch to a 410ci engine package and DOT tires. The move provides for more affordable racing at the PRO 2 level, while still providing a high-caliber race product and experience. Additionally, the move allows for a more accessible pathway into and through the PRO classes. The result of the changes has been an immediate rise in truck counts–17 drivers have taken the green flag in PRO 2 so far this season.
The class is now a conglomeration of PRO 2 veterans like Brad Lovell, Super Truck alumni such as Eric Ruppel and Mark Peterson and several other frontrunners from various sportsman racing classes who have moved up to the PRO ranks. In addition, two PRO Light stars, Luke Johnson and Andrew Carlson, have already taken advantage of the new transition to PRO 2 and have had great success in their rookie seasons.
“The previous cost of PRO 2 kept some drivers in the PRO Light class longer than they should have, myself included,” said Luke Johnson, current PRO 2 points leader. “These new rules have really sparked a push and interest to get some of those PRO Light guys to make the jump in the upcoming season. With the PRO Light class essentially opening up, some of the other sportsman and UTV racers are now looking at PRO Light as a next step. So by making a more affordable next step you are seeing a more realistic ladder to climb through the classes to eventually end up in PRO 4, the premier class.”
First Full Season of UTV Racing
In MSI’s first season of TORC ownership, two production UTV classes were added to the PRO program. PRO Mod and PRO Stock UTV ran three test rounds toward the end of the season. Although UTVs have been racing professionally for some time, it was clearly evident UTV performance really shines on the short course off-road platform. This year, the UTV fields have blossomed into seasoned, high-caliber racing classes by attracting top-notch talent. So far this season, nearly 100 unique UTV drivers have competed at TORC – enough to mandate qualifying cutoffs and the addition of Sportsman UTV class.
The addition of Sportsman UTV racing to TORC has provided drivers with a stepping stone into the PRO ranks, and a way for aspiring racers to get on the track in a production vehicle. Meanwhile, the PRO classes have bolstered a unique advertising category, enabling brands such as Yamaha to showcase their products on the track and connect directly with consumers. Fans now have a TORC class they can relate to on a personal level and participate in on and off the track.
TORC: The Off-Road Championship is produced in partnership with AMSOIL, Cooper Tire, Maxxis, Yamaha, Kenda, Atturo, VP Racing Fuels, Vision Wheels and Rugged Radios.
Moving forward, TORC will continue through the championship schedule with Rounds 9&10 at RedBud (August 12-13), Round 11 at Crandon International Raceway (Sept. 1-2), and the rescheduled Round 4 alongside The Final Rounds 12&13 at ERX Motor Park. For more information visit torcseries.com.