Loves Park, IL (October 12, 2012) – After a great run at a MAORA race in Marengo, Indiana, John Frana and his RCV Performance/”the Official” Brand Name Prescription Card/Sway-A-Way/Rooster Synthetics/Frana Vehicles Honda-powered AWD Super Buggy headed to the Badlands Off-Road Park in Attica, Indiana for the TREC season finale. TREC, which stands for Trail Racing Endurance Circuit, is a monthly two-hour endurance race that runs on a seven mile long course that winds its way through the eight hundred acre off-road park. John Frana and his crew chief Ryan Brumund competed this spring with only limited success. The October race would have the Northern Illinois team run well, only to a have a navigation error prevent a podium finish.
In order to navigate the rocks, sand, and mud that make up the trails at the Badlands, Frana made several chassis changes to turn the short-course racer into a hybrid rock racer. The most notable change was the use of 32″ BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires. This definitely slowed the buggy at the land rush start, but the larger footprint of the tire and the added ground clearance the tires provided really transformed the Honda-powered racer into a serious contender for the win.
The day of the race was spent prerunning the race course as well as having a good time with fellow racers like MAORA’s Jerry Weaver and Chris Coughlin of 13Motorsports. Frana even brought down his 1996 AWD Subaru Impreza that had a few safety and off-road modifications to navigate the course. Between the AWD Buggy and the Subaru “trail warrior” the team made a handful of practice laps.
Ryan Brumund would start the race and drive the first hour of the race. The 7pm evening start saw everyone use their high powered lighting systems before the first lap was complete. About halfway through the stint, Brumund caught a tree with the right front corner of the buggy, which slightly bent the suspension and steering, but not enough to slow the pace of the RCV Performance/”the Official” Brand Name Prescription Card/Sway-A-Way/Rooster Synthetics/Frana Vehicles Honda-powered AWD Super Buggy.
When Brumund came in for the driver change, the crew topped off the fuel cell and John Frana buckled up for the final hour of racing. Immediately Frana realized the brakes were basically non-existent, regardless he pressed on into the night. The final hour was uneventful for Frana, as he passed many racers that were either stuck, stopped, or rolled over and a few that were still under power. At one point the winning unlimited rig passed the RCV Performance AWD Buggy, but just before the finish Frana was right behind him.
Out of the sixteen full size vehicles that started, John and Ryan were one of only four teams that took the checkered flag. Initially the team thought they had finished in second place, but race officials ruled that the team had cut the course, which negated their finish.
“The TREC events are always a ton of fun,” remarked John Frana. “Running at night is a always a challenge, especially with no brakes and damaged steering. Ryan and I had a great run, but if the officials said we cut the course, then we must have. It wasn’t intentional, running at night in the woods, we could have taken a wrong trail, but either way it’s a great series with a great bunch of competitors. We will be back next year.”
Frana and new crew member Mike Guirl have replaced the slipping clutch, repaired the steering and suspension, fixed the brakes and are loading up for the MAORA Fall Classic in Casey, Illinois.
- Mike Reusche, race report