Now in its second year, the annual GBC Heartland Challenge 10-hour endurance race seems to have become a premier family-oriented event that draws racers and spectators from all over for a weekend of great racing and an all around good time.
Changing the date of the event from November to mid-August was a smart move on the part of officials as perfect weather greeted this year's participants, which allowed everyone to enjoy the festivities, races and hot air balloons that had gathered for the event. This year the Challenge was held in Carlisle, Iowa, and saw many familiar faces returning for their shot at the podium, and the addition of a new Mini RZR class attracted some new ones as well.
The event kicked off on Friday afternoon with the Milwaukee Tools Pit Stop Challenge where pit crews got the opportunity to show their stuff and have a shot at winning over $800 worth of power tools.
Next up, was the Mini UTV races, which was new for this year and offered plenty of fun for youth racers to test out their skills for an hour and a half on a nearly two-mile course. "The mini UTVs have really grown in popularity, and we felt that it would be good idea to include a class for them this year," event promoter Andy Kyner said. "The kids had a great time out there, and we got a lot of comments from spectators who really liked watching them as well."
Once the little guys were done, it as time for the full-sized UTVs to show what they were made of. Last year, the UTV classes only competed for three hours, but this year the race was extended to four hours and got underway as the sun began to set, giving racers the extra challenge of racing half of the event in the dark.
The ATV Youth contests got off to an early start. The youth classes would run for three hours on a shorter track than the adult classes would be run. The Banded Gangsters team would take an early lead in the 90cc Production class, but the GT Thunder team would prove to be victorious as they took over the lead at the mid-point and pulled away.
The Blue Ridge bad Boys edged out the competition in the 90cc Modified class; the White Lightning Jr.'s would take an easy win in the 70cc Production class. In the 50cc class, the Buckskinner Boys grabbed their class's holeshot and led from start to finish.
After the ATV Youth awards ceremony it was time for the main event. There were 46 teams and nine brave souls in the Ironman class all lined up waiting for the signal of the Le Mans-style start.