Las Vegans head to Crandon for off-road racing

Kenny Freeman is stepping away from a busy schedule in the carpet business to climb into his motor home and tow his off-road equipment to what is called the Super Bowl of off-road racing at Crandon International Off Road Raceway in Wisconsin, about 100 miles north of Green Bay.

The 1.5 mile track will draw about 200 racers and an estimated 20,000 fans for its 40th anniversary Brush Rush event on June 20-21 when the Off Road Championship series is held. Freeman and his wife, Kerry, are on schedule to arrive at Crandon today.

Las Vegas sensation Rob MacCachren — a three-time winner in Crandon — is expected to run Pro 2 in a sparkling field that will also include such names as Jeremy McGrath and Johnny Grease. The event is so immense that 600 volunteers are needed at the facility known as “The Big House.”

MacCachren will run in the Forest County Potawatomi Chairman’s Cup event, while Freeman expects to have big-time competition in the 1600 category.

Freeman, 52, will run a Kevin Bunderson-built vehicle that was used in the last race of the 2008 Championship Off Road Racing season.

The short course idea stuck with Freeman especially after CORR shut down, leaving him with a car and nowhere to race.

“This is something that I have always wanted to do,” said Freeman, whose family has been entrenched with the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts for more than 40 years. “We just decided to pack up and head for Crandon. We’re looking for a podium finish.”

The Freemans aren’t the only ones from Las Vegas headed for Crandon. Tommy Bradley and his wife, Kelly, are also headed for Wisconsin, along with the Freemans’ son, Bryan, and his wife, Jessica; and the Freemans’ personable Yorkshire mascot, Maxie.

Veteran competitor Bruce Fraley might also attend, although his status is pending the availability of air flight.

Crandon International Off Road Raceway has been around since 1970. The track draws the best in off-road racing for everything from testing to major league competition. Known as a small town with big-time racing, its track record holders include names like Walker Evans, Johnny Greaves and MacCachren, who was scheduled to compete after running the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 on June 5-7 in Mexico.

The 1.5-mile track has the best combination in the country according to those who make the trek to the Midwest every year. However, while the racing is unbelievable, the atmosphere is one that creates lifetime memories.

“People tell me that Talledega has the wildest infield in stock car racing, and Crandon is even bigger,” said Freeman, laughing.

The Freeman family is towing a 1600 cc car behind its Taj Mahal-like motor home. Whether it’s food or sleeping quarters, the group certainly will be going in style.

“There are times when you just have to go for it,” said Freeman. “And besides, everyone tells me that the people of Wisconsin know how to have fun like no other people in the country.

“Crandon is to off-road racing what Daytona is to stock car racing,” Freeman explained, adding that the track paid in excess of $280,000 to racers in 2008. “Whenever they have a race there, the entire town gets behind the event.”

Crandon’s significance has been documented in “Crandon: The Small Town with Big Time Racing,” a film produced and directed by Steve Naughton that is scheduled for release this fall. The action-packed documentary will feature the town’s racing history as well as the picturesque community.

Among the racers featured will be Evans; Supercross and Motocross legend Ricky Johnson; MacCachren; Las Vegas Nationwide driver Brendan Gaughan; and Scott Taylor, to name a few. Crandon will host the 2009 BorgWarner World Championship on Labor Day Weekend Sept. 4-6.

“The September event will have even more Las Vegas drivers especially after they all hear how much fun we had,” said Freeman.

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