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Races to debut off-road track

July 08, 2009
The dust will be flying when Mid America Off Road Association drivers spin, jump and slide into action at the Crawford County 4-H Fair.

MAORA drivers from Indiana and beyond will bring their modified buggies and trucks to the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo on Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, for the first races on the new dirt track.

The action on July 18 will feature class heats on the main short course, which measures five-eighths of a mile, while the second day will test drivers' endurance as both buggies and trucks will race the extended track that measures 1-3/4 miles and goes into the woods.

"It's always bragging rights between the buggies and the trucks," MAORA President Spencer Rising-Moore said, adding the endurance race usually lasts a couple of hours.

The Crawford County event was spearheaded by MAORA driver Dave Bruner, of Palmyra. The veteran driver wanted to bring the family-friendly MAORA circuit to Southern Indiana, believing it would be a hit with people here. Until now, MAORA events have taken place in Illinois, Ohio and northern Indiana, with the only race in the Hoosier state a year ago at Lafayette.

Through a conversation with Milltown Police Chief Ray Saylor, Bruner was directed to the Crawford County 4-H Council Inc., which has wanted to add attractions at the 4-H Community Park for both the fair week and other times during the year.

"It just kind of snowballed from there," Bruner said, noting the 4-H will receive 90 percent of the collected admission fees.

MAORA Vice President Brian Daffron said this year's race could spur additional events at the Crawford County track.

"If all goes well, we'll have two of them next year, one during the fair and one some other time," he said.

Bruner dodged raindrops this spring to build the course, located on the rear of the property, west of the horse and pony arena. The short course, he said, features five turns and several five-foot-high bumps so drivers can get plenty of air.

"It's more like a road race track or even a motor race track for cars," Daffron said.

The extended portion of the course for the endurance race is more primitive, Bruner said, explaining it basically is a cleared pathway through the woods that is only half as wide as the main track.

"It's very action-packed and very exciting," he said of the endurance races.

MAORA, the result of 12 racing clubs joining forces in the 1970s, is experiencing a sort of resurgence. Its 70-plus members, from throughout the country, are double from just a few years ago, Rising-Moore said, and it's been building its sponsorships, with Lucas Oil serving as the main sponsor.

The schedule features 14 races on seven weekends from April through October, culminating with the Fall Classic in Casey, Ill., about 30 minutes from Terre Haute.

"We're like a feeder series for the bigger series," Rising-Moore said, noting several former MAORA drivers are running in the larger Lucas Series in California.

The action on Saturday, July 18, will begin at 10 a.m., while racing on Sunday, July 19, will begin at noon.

Tickets will cost $10 for ages 13 and older, $5 for ages 6 through 12 and free for ages 5 and younger.

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