U.P. To The Races

Every now and then, we all need a vacation.  After a long enough time, it becomes necessity for all of us to get away from all the bullshit, whatever it is, that makes up our day to day.  Now before you all go running off to the wang-shaped land of Florida, let me tell you about another peninsula that’s right next door to the great state of Wisconsin:  A little place known as the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

In case you haven’t figured it out, I spent last weekend up north with the Yoopers (AKA residents of the U.P.) taking in some good ol’ fashioned fun at the BRIR, the Bark River International Raceway.

Every year for two days in July and two more in August, the BRIR hosts the U.P. Off Road 100, a series of off road races featuring dune buggies and 4X4 trucks.  Each race, which lasts about 20 minutes, showcases anywhere from 6 to 20 vehicles doing laps through the 1.5 mile dirt track, complete with jumps, zigs, and zags.  You can take all that NASCAR shit and throw it right out the window.   These off road drivers might not go as fast as your Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s, but they put just as much on the line, they race for a fraction of the fortune and fame, and, get ready for this, THEY ACTUALLY MAKE RIGHT TURNS!!!

Now I’ve never actually been to a NASCAR race, but I’m willing to bet that their fans get raped when it comes to parking, tickets, beer and everything else that comes with a trip to the racetrack.  In the U.P., a two-day pass (which includes roughly 14 hours of racing) will run you $30.  Once your inside, the pit areas are open to the public so you can meet your favorite drivers (Honestly, though, I don’t really know who any of them are….except motocross driver Jeremy McGrath who I didn’t even know raced off road trucks).  There are both grandstands and a grass hill open to view the race. And most importantly, a pint of beer will only run you three bucks.  So even if the race gets boring, you can bring a blanket, lie down on the hill, and get loaded in the sun.

The most interesting thing, though, about these races is the start.  In NASCAR, drivers go through time trials to determine the starting order.  At the BRIR, they actually line up all the racers in a line off of the course.  When the green flag flies, they all take off and are forced to bottle neck and squeeze onto the track (I managed to take a picture of this below).


And I got a picture with Bigfoot (even though his demo was thoroughly unimpressive)


Now I know what a lot of you are probably thinking.  You’re thinking that races like these are crawling with unsavory rednecks that spend their days just waiting for opportunities to tell you or anyone else to “Get ‘R Done.”  Now I’m not gonna lie to you and say there’s no one there like this, but I will tell you a story.  Back in 1997 I think, I went to see System Of A Down open for Fear Factory.  I fucking hate Fear Factory.  I did not want to be around that many people who liked Fear Factory.  But you know what, I sucked it up and went.  And it is in that spirit that I ask you to approach the world of off-road racing.  In other words, don’t let a few douchebags stray you away from what could potentially be a really good time

So all in all it was an awesome time.  I took in a few races, ate for free (my mom lives up there), and won $16 at the local casino.  And, as I have done every year, I picked up one special treat on my way out…


Nothing like a Yooper Bar for the ride home.


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