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ISOC Regional #2 – Elk River, MN

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I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to be back in the state and at the regional again after my travel nightmare and missing the last event at ERX. A couple things stick out to me while writing this. First, weather continues to show its muscle and power this season. Second, you can tell that it’s getting that time of season when points are becoming even more important than ever.

Once again ERX and its staff did an awesome job with providing us with a large, safe, and fun race track and great facility. Hats off to them and the crew and thanks for their hospitality. Our weekend weather forecast called for a nice day Saturday, sunny and average temps. Sunday, well not so much; cold temps in the morning and blizzard conditions in the afternoon. Our entries were good considering the weather forecast and it being X-Games weekend. A lot of families and racers travel to Aspen to take in this awesome winter event. I welcomed our riders, family, and crew at Saturday’s riders meeting, we prayed and went hot on the track with hot laps. It is amazing even after all these years, I still was a little nervous after missing a weekend. It’s kind of a double edged sword because it seems like after a break, a person has to shake off the cob webs again. And, at the same time, this time of year when racing every weekend, I beg for a break.

Since the last race, we had a couple of changes that I feel are very exciting for the regional series. We added an amateur women’s class and expanded our ditch banger rules with more open guidelines to give more opportunities to race in that class. I feel these are a great addition to the regionals. As for the amateur women’s class, it is a great opportunity for the girls to have a choice to race against each other and not have to race the boys before they are old enough to move up to Pro-Am women’s class.

As for the ditch banger class, we just needed to tweak our rules a little to give more opportunity for racers looking to get into that class. So, I must say, that Saturday was a very busy day and what I like to call a character building day. Remember when I said it’s that time of year? Well, on Saturday, for the first time since being race director, we had to call an ambulance twice in less than 5 minutes for injured riders. I had my first red flag of the year as well as some upset racers and parents for calls that were made on the race track that didn’t go the way they thought it should have. Hey nobody said it was gonna be easy right? I will say I don’t feel as though the injuries were due to an unsafe race track, it was a case of riders giving it all they’ve got and trying to get everything out of themselves and the machine. I want to wish those riders and their families a painless, speedy recovery and want to see them at the track again soon.
We had some fierce, competitive racing on Saturday and the day went fairly smoothly, even with some minor setbacks. We had some new winners in classes, some new classes, and some first time racers that I want to welcome. I hope they had an enjoyable experience and will join us again.

We have a lot of points battles brewing in many different classes, some of which the top 5 or more are separated by less than 10 points. It’s exciting to see the fierce competitive racing and the drive that these young men and women have as each one may have different goals or dreams, nonetheless, they are racing hard and hopefully having fun! Some maybe chasing a first championship, others multiple championships, and even those who are pursuing that first win and some who just want to make it to the Showdown in Lake Geneva at end of year. To all of you, I personally wish you the best!

All and all Saturday went well and I was very proud of my team and the racers, crews and parents for the way we all worked together and the way things were handled throughout the day. We ended at about 4 pm, or shortly thereafter, and it was back to room for a shower, a quick reflection on the day, and off to Pizza Ranch for dinner with the crew. As I went to bed that night, the feeling or atmosphere in the air had that of a playoff game, where things just seem to be more intense and have a little more meaning! Not that my team or my job shouldn’t always have importance and that we don’t strive to always do our best or be better, but there was something in the air now that wasn’t always there. As I rustled around on pretty much a sleepless night worried about weather and our racers, families, their crews, and my staff, I awoke on Sunday to cooler temps, but no wind as of yet.

In the riders meeting, I discussed the weather issues and some options we had to move our day along so we could all get on the road home at a decent time. As a group, we put our heads together, we made some minor adjustments, and adjusted accordingly. We prayed for a safe fun day of racing as well as our riders who were injured the day before for speedy recovery and we went green.

The morning was going great, very smooth and hitting on all cylinders, some great competitive racing, new rivals and old, battling it out, swapping paint and positions in all classes, every lap great racing action. By noon our sponsor flags on the track, which all morning had just a little flicker and ripple in them, were now red lined and whipping like hurricane Katrina. As the winds ripped across the race track tearing at the seams of our flags, it felt like the perfect storm. I had the crew take down the flags as we prepared for our afternoon classes to run. The morning was great, no injuries, and with the hot battles brewing on track, even with cold temps, I was afraid of melting all of ERX’s snow. OK maybe not that hot, but there was awesome racing action going on for sure. The afternoon weather came soaring in like the Seahawks on Super Bowl Sunday; it never stopped putting pressure on us and definitely our God above let us know he is still in charge as did the Seahawks! The race teams, crews, families and fans, as well as our team, pushed forward and we finished Sunday at about 2 pm trying to get everyone on road as quick as possible.

In closing I just want to thank all the racers, crews, families, ERX, their staff and my staff for all their hard work and dedication to the sport we love, as well as the fans! It’s much easier to sit on the couch with milk and cookies and a warm fireplace, but instead because of our passion and love for the sport, we all choose this winter lifestyle of rising at 6 am and standing in 30 mile an hour winds at -15 below wrapped up like a bear in its den, all with a different purpose or dream!
Don’t ever give up and don’t stop believing, keep on keep’in on, it’s that time of year when your body aches and your muscles get tight, that you need to dig deeper and ask yourself, “Is it all worth it?” I hope so because you have come too far now to turn back, remember we only fail when we quit trying. Best of luck to all of you the rest of the season. We are now past half way so rise to the top and bring your “A” game and who knows, maybe you too will be a champion at end of the season? There can only be one winner, but remember in God’s eyes we’re all winners and champions. God Bless, be safe, have fun and laugh often!! On the road again!!

See you in Hill City, “Racin” Jason Haugen

P.S. I want to mention that in all my years of racing, I’ve never worked with a better crew than the one ISOC has now, as well as the medical staff and race sites and venues. A special thanks to you all, it’s never been more professional!