Bark River withdraws from TORC, explores options

HARRIS — It’s official: The Off Road Racing Championship (TORC Series) is not returning to Bark River. But plans are in the works to bring some form of a race series to Bark River International Raceway this summer.

Courtney Prost, Director of Development for the Bark River track, verified three Midwest facilities — Crandon International Raceway (Wis.), ERX Motor Park (Minn.) and Bark River — have withdrawn from the TORC Series and other options are currently being discussed.

The Midwest tracks were part of TORC for the past two seasons.

“All three tracks felt in the best interest of off road short-course racing to survive was to step away from TORC,” Prost said. “Even though we’ve left TORC the organization, racing is not going away. Our goal is to make it bigger and better than it’s even been.”

The three facilities are pursuing a five-weekend championship race series that would include the traditional categories of PRO and Sportsman truck, buggy and UTV. Prost said there is a sense of urgency to get details finalized in the next few weeks so race fans can plan vacations and trips to the tracks.

“There are meetings being held with all different types of organizations to explore all the options of what will be best for our future, not just 2018 but far beyond that,” Prost said. “We have some exciting things that could be very prosperous in the future if they work out.”

News of the recent development was released on the Bark River International Raceway Facebook page Monday night and race fans can get updates from that site.

“As far as racing in Bark River goes, we are working on plans to make this the biggest racing Bark River has ever seen,” said Bark River Racing Chairman Richard Ault.

Prost also emphasized racing will return to Bark River.

“There are rumors going around with people saying there won’t be races and this class will be cut,” she said. “This is not true. The collaboration we are forming is to make Bark River bigger, better and more successful than ever in the future. We have the best interest of the fans, the racers and the tracks in mind.”

Prost said there are discussions with many of the drivers. One of the goals is to increase the talent pool of drivers in the future.

“The TORC driver pools were dwindling,” Prost said. “This is one of the reasons we are making a switch.

“The racers know what is going on and they know it is for the best. We are in conversations with racers at every level to ensure Bark River’s selection and talent remains the same, if not grows. As a track, we want more racers. We want more trucks.”

Bark River International Raceway — which celebrated its 40th year of off-road racing in 2015 — is owned by the Bark River Lions Club.

Racing has attracted thousands of fans over the years and requires about 175 volunteers for the main event.

The 2006 Bark River Off-Road Races became part of the World Series of Off-Road Racing, which evolved into TORC. BRIR offers the only sanctioned off-road races in Upper Michigan.