BARK RIVER - Bark River Lions Club Race Chairman Richard Ault has been at it a long while. You might event say he has the races down to a science.
"There is a lot of pride in where we came from and where we're heading and where we're going," he said. "Knowing we're doing a good job, everyone takes pride in that."
Ault is once again spearheading the The Offroad Championship (TORC) series race at Bark River International Raceway this weekend and ensuring that it will continue to be a spectacular two days of family fun and entertainment.
Shawn Morris of Flying Dutchman Offroad soars through the air at the Red Bud race in Buchanan, Mich. during Memorial Day weekend this summer. Morris is a contender in the Pro Light division this weekend at Bark River. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Fonferek)
"It's a really big effort, " he said. "You look at something like this and you say 'I"m proud to be from Bark River.' We all work together. Monday morning comes along and we're all friends. That's very important to stay focused on things.
"Some places, you can see it by talking to a few of the people, if there's tension. I don't think you see a lot of that in Bark River."
Two action-paced days of racing are in store for enthusiasts visiting the raceway Saturday and Sunday. Practice and qualifying is open to the public Friday evening. Racing will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Attendees can also expect live music Friday and Saturday night from the band Driver. The Bark River fireworks, delayed from July 4, will go on Saturday evening from their usual location in downtown Bark River.
A weekend pass for those 10 years and older is $35 with a one-day pass at $25. Kids 9 and under are free. Fans can come out for just the evening band for a $5 cover charge with all proceeds benefiting the Marquette General Cancer Treatment Center.
Much of the intrigue may be centered on the Pro 2WD racing class where Chad Hord of Felch will try to re-gain his points lead after some technical problems three weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway.
"Thursday night at Chicago I bent an upper control line when I hit a wall with the upper side of my truck. I was in fourth place at the time and had to pull off," Hord said. "Friday night, because we broke the night before, I had to start in the back, but I worked my way up to second place.
"I was first in the points standings going into Chicago, I was second coming out, three points out of first."
In fact, the Pro 2 standings are quite tight going into Bark River. Rob Maccachren currently leads the pack with 140 points, Hord is right behind with 137 and Bryce Menzies is within reach at 133. Menzies won the overall points championship last season.
Hord is coming back to a track he more or less calls home, but downplayed the notion he may have an advantage here.
"I live close to it, but it's pretty stiff competition on this track," he said. "Just being around the track a lot, they change it quite a bit, here and there, it's never the same.
"There's a lot of elevation changes at Bark River. It's bigger, wide-open, there's a lot more speed. It's fast, but yet, it's got some technical aspects to it. It's one of the most unique tracks we go to."
As for Hord's truck, he said it's ready to go.
"I got the truck fixed the next night (after Chicago). I got back to the shop and now the truck is in really good shape.
"I've been in seven races this year and I've only missed being on the podium twice. I'm going into Bark River planning on being on the podium for sure."
Ault wasn't about to play his hand when it came to disclosing track changes.
"We'll probably make a few little changes but you never know what's going to happen," he said.
One thing is for sure, none of this would be possible if not for the outstanding volunteer effort Ault has received.
"They're all grown adults and they do their jobs. They know what's what and it all works very good. That's what makes it work so well. I don't think you can micro-mange something this big.
"There's a lot of people who have done this for 25-30 years. Every year, they plan their summers around it. One lady had a wedding to go to and she said she couldn't make the church service because she volunteers every weekend at the track. It takes priority over a lot of things."
As for fan turnout, Ault expects another great year at the raceway.
"We always get a lot of campers and spectators. It's a great event for the area," he said.