PRO 2 Rookie’s Rollercoaster Season Reaches New Heights
Long after the final checkered flag waved for the TORC Series Rumble at RedBud, after fans had gone home and the roar of racing engines had given way to the gentle onset of night, one race team appeared in no hurry to leave the track. From the looks of Kenda Tire PRO 2 racer Cody “Crash” Conrad’s pit, one might have assumed there was an additional round of racing the next day. And with good reason – with how the day turned out for Conrad and his team, there’s no wonder the celebration went on into the night.
It was a day that started with great promise for Cody Conrad. After posting a solid qualifying time, Conrad started on the pole for a moto-style landrush start. He made it through the daunting start clean and controlled the field through the first several turns… but that’s when everything came crashing down.
Conrad over-rotated his truck three times before lap two on the recently-watered and ultra-slippery course. The first time, Luke Johnson got by. The second time, Conrad was able to drive out of the spin and save his position. But the third time, while under pressure from Andrew Carlson, Conrad did a full 360 in a rough, sandy turn, and dropped all the way to the back.
“The first two [laps] last I drove horrible,” Conrad admits. “Starting on the pole with all that pressure I just couldn’t think straight.”
But Conrad was an entirely different driver during the second half of the race. In the first few turns after the restart, he passed Mitch Dorr and Mark Peterson with conviction. After a long battle with Tim Nelson, Conrad pulled off an impressive pass that took several turns to execute, powering his way to a career-best third-place finish.
“I just took a deep breath and with the help of my dad (my spotter) keeping me calm I put my head down and started driving forward, being patient and taking the opportunity when it came. Getting on the podium was awesome! We really worked for it and my crew especially deserved it.”
And work for it they did – this season has been all about challenges for Crash Conrad’s team.
“We started out in Chicago with a rollover on Sunday after hitting a rut. [At] ERX a rock went through the radiator and the truck started getting hot, so we shut it down before we hurt it. On Sunday [at Crandon we went] through six quarts of oil and cracked a piston in the motor. We spent the next few weeks getting the new motor put in for Bark River. Bark River did not go well; we didn’t complete a single lap either day as there were cooling issues with the new motor. We pulled the new motor out and figured out what was going on, [then got] it put back in to head to RedBud.”
But the hard work all paid off with Conrad’s storybook Round 10 podium. The celebration that followed would cement Conrad’s improbable comeback as the story of the weekend. Conrad’s friends and family descended upon the podium area in a celebration to remember, mobbing the young driver as he emerged from his truck. Even Brad Lovell and Luke Johnson joined in, dousing Conrad with champagne in the victory celebration.
To top it all off, Conrad was awarded the “Bad MoFo” award from Vision Wheel, complete with a custom wallet and $250 in cash. “Receiving the Bad MOFO award was a great honor,” said Conrad.
As the TORC Series moves on to its final two stops in Crandon, WI and Elk River, MN, Conrad hopes to grow as a driver by getting more seat time, becoming more consistent, and working out the bugs in the truck. Only time will tell if Conrad will be able to build upon his recent success, but one thing is certain: the roller-coaster race and celebration that followed was an experience Conrad and his family will never forget.
Cody Conrad would like to thank his dad Jerry, girlfriend Bethany, crew Trevor, Daniel, Nick, Rick and Gloria, as well as TORC, the tracks, and the fans that come to support the racing.
Sponsors: Conrad’s Auto Salvage, Wrap Guys, Rowan Enterprises, Hide-a-While Bar, Matco Tools, Profab, Best Transmissions, Motor-State, Powerline, and Kenda Tire.
Andrew Pfluger is a longtime race fan and writer for the TORC Series. To offer feedback or make suggestions for future content, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.