DUNKIRK?- Off-road racing at the Chautauqua County Fair packed the grandstand Friday night as fans watched trucks leave the ground and sometimes come crashing down.
The Western New York Off Road Racing group hosted the event, which featured several local drivers. The event was dedicated to Mike Case, a member of the group who died in a motorcycle accident on May 14.
The dirt track featured two earthen berms following up to the hair-pin turn through a mud trap. A larger, taller earthen berm awaited drivers mid-track, following a turn past the original starting lane and onto a short, straight track to speed off to the finish line. The drivers all had three rounds to make their best lap.
Plenty of airborne vehicles were seen during the super stock and pro truck classes at the Off Road Race at the Chautauqua County Fair on Friday night.
Photos by Shirley Pulawski
The short concrete wall separating the two berm runs became a final resting place for two of the trucks before being hauled away by a waiting tractor. When a pro class truck caught on fire, emergency responders were quick to help the driver out of his safety harness and the fire was quickly extinguished.
Three class divisions separated the drivers. The stock category was open to anyone with a registered four-wheel drive vehicle, provided it has no modifications aside from safety features. The stock racers completed the course in one lap, one at a time, whereas the super stock and pro trucks raced in two laps, two at a time.
Several of the stock trucks were in rough shape before the race began. The announcer told the audience one racer said "It'll go or it'll blow." Ultimately, the drive train snapped on that particular truck before completing the first lap.
Many of the drivers in the stock class started out making very aggressive initial laps but toned it down in the remaining two laps. Plenty of airborne vehicles were seen during the subsequent super stock and pro truck classes.
Super stock trucks are required to be fitted with several safety features, like a roll cage, in addition to permitted modifications, but the engine must remain in stock condition. The pro trucks are allowed some modifications to the engine system, such as carburetors, but must run on regular fuel with no additives.
After the pro and super stock trucks left the starting line side-by-side, tensions were high as the two drivers fought for the advantage going around the first turn while avoiding a collision. In most laps, the trucks quickly separated, but in a few laps, trucks remained in close competition.
The next race at the fairgrounds hosted by the Western New York Off Road Racers will be held Saturday, Aug. 18 at 4 p.m.