After a seven year absence, Doug Fortin returned to the historic Crandon International Raceway, the undisputed home of short course off road racing, to compete in the annual Labor Day race weekend festivities. Having last competed here in 2009 in both a Pro 2 and a Pro Buggy, Fortin was now taking to the track for the first time in his #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./General Tire/E3 Spark Plugs Pro-4, a challenge he was greatly relishing.
“We worked out a partnership with General Tire,” Fortin says of how he was able to add the Crandon weekend to his race season this year. “They wanted someone to go and represent the brand, so we worked a one-race deal to go out there. I’d been wanting to go back because I love the track. The town, the people are really appreciative- it’s a feel you just don’t get anywhere else.” With the details worked out and a special, all-red General Tire wrap on the truck, Fortin and his Dream Team made their way onto the track for the first time during Thursday practice, where Fortin found that “a lot had changed. There were a few more jumps, more banking to the turns. I love the style of the track- you’ve gotta have good car control to go sliding through the high speed corners.”
Fortin was anxious to race the TORC Series regulars on their home track, as well as to represent his line of Fortin Racing, Inc. products, and he started the steep learning curve by taking to several practice sessions on Thursday. Consistently making setup changes throughout the day, as well as learning the track all over again, Fortin quickly felt his confidence growing, and while he skipped TORC’s final regular season round of racing, he qualified second for the one-off, Pro 4 World Championship, and would line up next to top qualifier Kyle LeDuc for the race’s land rush start.
Unfortunately for Fortin, another driver got into Scott Douglas very early in the race, which caused Douglas to get into Fortin and send him off track. Fortin was lucky to avoid a potential rollover, and the race went to a full restart. On the second go around, LeDuc lost a motor early, handing Fortin the lead, but Fortin was then soon passed by CJ Greaves. Keegan Kincaid also got by, with the race then going into a lengthy red flag period following a bad crash for Johnny Greaves. Under red, the field was eventually advised to shut their engines off, and when the time came to re-fire, Fortin’s starter failed, leaving him to get towed into the infield. Determined to make the most of his available track time, Fortin got out and banged on the starter with a rock, then jumped back in and managed to get re-fired. Fortin jumped back into the fray, though he was now down more than a lap, but thanks to a high attrition rate, he still finished fifth. With this race’s finishing order determining the starting order for the coveted Amsoil Cup race, that would put Fortin fourth on the Pro 4 starting line, as Kincaid opted to drive the Cup race in his Pro 2.
“I knew I needed to get the hole shot, so I did” said Fortin of his tremendous start in the Pro 2 versus Pro 4 Amsoil Cup race. The Pro 2s were given a 27-second head start over their quicker Pro 4 rivals, but unfortunately, that deficit was more than the Pro 4 drivers were able to overcome. Leading the Pro 4 field for most of the race, Fortin’s engine eventually started to suffer with some temperature issues as it began blowing water late in the going. “It started laying down a little in the last few laps, but it turned out we were running out of fuel” Fortin said. Passed by CJ Greaves just before the finish, Fortin and the rest of the Pro 4s only managed to get within five seconds or so of the winning driver, Kincaid in his Pro 2. Greaves finished second and Fortin was a solid third, a fine performance that capped a rewarding return to this great race. “I think we represented well,” Fortin said.
This week, Fortin has been back at it, testing a new tire offering from General Tire ahead of next weekend’s Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series races at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park. “Right now, we’re getting the Elsinore setup back in place,” Fortin says. We have new tires to try, and the truck in working well; there are just a lot of changes to make to get back to the Elsinore setup.” Fortin is confident he can carry the momentum from his Crandon performances over into another strong showing at Lake Elsinore, and is aiming to move up to third points by the end of the race weekend, as just 10 points currently separate Fortin from that position.
Doug would like to thank all of his sponsors for their valued and continued support:
Fortin Racing, Inc.
E3 Spark Plugs
Toyota of Escondido Action Sports
Maxima Racing Oils
Fox Racing Shox
Method Race Wheels
Toyota Racing Development
Automotive Racing Products
McGrath Fiberglass Products
Gibson Performance Exhaust
Cool It Thermo-Tec
For more information, please visit www.fortinracing.com.