The TORC Series “Throw Down in the UP” event was an event Gabe Johnson circled on the calendar months ago, as the race is held just forty miles from his home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The homecoming usually means a good time, but the weekend at the fast yet technical Bark River 1.5-mile layout proved to be a tough task to tackle for the Armor Steel and Metal Maxxis Tire backed Polaris UTV.
Working under the same awning as fellow Felch, Michigan resident Chad Hord, Gabe and his dad Paul, have had a great relationship working with the champion short-course off-road racer. Hord’s periodic advice has helped theTORC competitor find his way in the very competitive Sportsman Stock UTV class.
The track conditions were near perfect and after a solid Friday afternoon practice session, Gabe was set to go for Saturday’s eight lap Round 7 race.
The congested start had Johnson running in fourth place and by lap 2, he was putting on the heat on the third place driver. Just after the mandatory caution Gabe had contact from behind that put the #725 into a hard double barrel roll. Needless to say the damage was extensive and it ended the young driver’s day in eleventh place.
After limping back to the pits, the team went to work locating and replacing a multitude of components that included suspension parts along with wheels and tires.
Thanks to the team perseverance the red and black Polaris UTV was ready for the Sundayafternoon battle.
Sunday’s race saw Gabe avoid getting caught up in a first turn melee. Unfortunately, this put the young driver well back in the running order. With encouragement from his spotter, Johnson pushed on looking to move into podium contention. The driving throughout the field began to get quite aggressive, as the #725 Armor Steel and Metal Maxxis Tire Polaris UTV moved forward in the running order. The driving style from a couple of competitors took a toll on Gabe Johnson. A late race spun by a competitor right in front of Gabe saw the rookie take evasive action, but was unable to avoid contact. The two UTVs were temporarily locked together, but the contact caused extensive damage to the #725. The brake system and exhaust system were severely damaged, a couple of radius rods were bent, and a rear driveshaft broke due to the contact. Somehow while down on power, Gabe soldiered on completing all eight laps and finishing in eighth place.
“The weekend was a rough one for us, ” noted Gabe Johnson. “Seems like the last couple of weekends, we find ourselves in the wrong spot at the wrong time and our luck runs out. We will get our Polaris one hundred percent ready for Red Bud. The racing there should be fun and technical as the track uses some of the Motocross layout. I have to thank everyone that came over to our pit to lend a hand Saturday night, without them we wouldn’t have been ready for the second race.”
After Round 8 in the TORC Series presented by AMSOIL Sportsman UTV Championship, Gabe Johnson is currently in fifth place overall.
As mentioned, the next stop of the TORC Series presented by AMSOIL is August 12-13 at Red Bud MX in Buchanan, Michigan.
Gabe Johnson would like to thank the team’s marketing partners including:
Armor Steel and Metal, Super ATV, Chad Hord Racing, Maxxis, Race-Driven, Iron Mountain Powersports, Midway Rentals, R&R Tires, and Bikeman Performance.