By Justin Marietti
BARK RIVER - The nice weather has arrived just in time for the 38th annual Bark River Off-Road races this weekend, and it is merely adding to the anticipation surrounding the event.
Racers round a corner at the Bark River International Raceway during the 2012 races in August. The races kick off Friday with pro racing at 7 p.m. in Bark River. (Daily Press file photo by Keith Shelton)
The races, which will be held at Bark River International Raceway - located at 3731 D Road, Bark River - kick off Friday with Pro 2, Pro 4, and Pro Light racing at 7 p.m. On Saturday, opening ceremonies begin at 10:50 a.m., with races beginning right after and lasting through the final race of the day at 4:35 p.m. The closing ceremonies will take place Sunday at 10:50 a.m., with the final race of the day scheduled for 4:35 p.m.
"Mother Nature just changed the forecast," said Race Marketing Chairman and Raffle Chairman Roger Charbonneau. "Things are shaping up great; sunny and in the 70s for the weekend. We should be all set."
He added that because of the rescheduling move from August to June, there seems to be some added excitement heading into the weekend.
"School is ending and summer is beginning," he said. "Everyone is tired of the long winter and ready to have some fun."
Charbonneau said there is an additional day of racing this year, as opposed to the usual two days, and the national television coverage of the event has increased as well.
"In this area and in Crandon (Wisconsin), they make it an annual family event," he said. "They get together and camp for four days and enjoy bands as well as racing."
He added that there is something for all kinds of different people, and it's not just limited to the main events.
"Once you experience this type of racing, you will never stop coming back," he said.
Race Chairman Richard Ault agreed, saying, "If you like racing at all, it will be one of the best things you will ever see. Everything about it is great."
Ault said that part of the draw to the races is the fact that top drivers from across the country will be there.
"This year, (NASCAR's) Jimmy Johnson's brother will be racing," he said. "It's going to be a big display. It seems like the people are out and ready to do things, and they're ready to come here."
He also mentioned the extra night of racing, stating that the four Pro classes will be competing all three days.
"You actually get to see three full rounds of racing," he said. "It will really be something. If people have something going on one night, they can always come another day."
Charbonneau said that one of the added benefits from having the races in June is the condition of the track.
"The track is probably in better shape than it's ever been," he said. "We don't see as much rain in August as we do in June, and this year with the moisture, it's a very good thing."
Ault added that although the rescheduling wasn't the plan at first, it has turned out better than they could have expected.
"We've already got over 600 campsites sold," he said. "It's going to be a big year. I know the people like that it is coming early. They can't wait to get in there and watch the races and have a good time."
General admission costs for the races are $35 for a weekend pass or $25 for a one-day pass for ages 10 and up. Children ages nine and younger get in free.
For more information on reserve seating admission or general camping information, visit www.barkriveroffroad.com.