Mikey’s Back, and he’s One for One in 2017
When the name of Mike Vanden Heuvel appeared on the PRO 2 roster for Round 3 of TORC: The Off-Road Championship Twin Cities Takedown at ERX Motorpark, fans new and old knew they were in for a treat. It took less than a single lap for the red #77 Kenda Tires entry to take the lead over a stacked PRO 2 field. Vanden Heuvel never looked back, leading the entire race and cruising to a convincing win despite a host of restarts.
Though the Twin Cities Takedown marked his first race in considerable time, it’s not surprising that he showed no signs of rust. A look into his background reveals why.
Mike Vanden Heuvel grew up around the race scene. He is the son of short course racing icon Dan Vanden Heuvel, the original “Flying Dutchman” and longtime PRO 2 competitor. Mike grew up watching his dad tear it up in the early days of short course, at tracks like Crandon International Raceway and Antigo. Racing is in Mike’s blood, and he followed in his father’s footsteps at a young age.
In 2004, Vanden Heuvel made his racing debut in a sportsman series 1600 Light Buggy he built himself in high school. He quickly became one of the fastest on the track, and won the Light Buggy championship in 2008. In 2010, he moved up to Super Truck. Vanden Heuvel was the fastest from the get-go, and he won the series championship in his first year in the truck. The next year, he joined the big dogs in PRO 2.
Dan Vanden Heuvel is now the president of MORR (Midwest Off-Road Racing), the sanctioning body for sportsman classes. Mike has been working as a “professional gearhead” in Appleton, WI. It’s been several years since the Flying Dutchman team competed in a full season of PRO 2, but Mike Vanden Heuvel has been extremely competitive in limited appearances at Crandon International Raceway over the past few years. To this day, he’s proud to be running up front in a truck he built himself.
During his time away from the driver’s seat, Mike has been an instrumental part of the Flying Dutchman Off-Road race team that has fostered the programs of Shawn Morris, Chad Rayford, and other competitors over the last few seasons. Mike has gained a reputation as a skilled fabricator and spotter on race day. But now, thanks in part to a new PRO 2 rules package, Mikey’s back behind the wheel, and he hasn’t missed a beat.
To prepare for Round 3 competition, Mike Vanden Heuvel and the Flying Dutchman race team visited ERX Motor Park a couple of weeks early to put down some practice laps on the Minnesota track. The combination of Mike’s experience and a dialed-in truck proved to be the winning formula, as Vanden Heuvel qualified fastest and led the race wire to wire.
“My spotter Chad Rayford was keeping me clear the whole race,” A calm and confident Vanden Heuvel stated in his victory interview. “I knew we had the best truck out there today on these Kenda tires. We just did what we’re going to do every time we’re out!”
Mike Vanden Heuvel may be an unfamiliar name to some TORC Series fans, but make no mistake: He’s no rookie, and if he’s racing, he’ll be gunning for the front. The Kenda tires #77 PRO 2 has one of the strongest, most experienced teams in off-road racing behind it and a wicked-fast son of a racing legend at the wheel. Be sure to follow Mike Vanden Heuvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as he prepares for more short course action, and look for the second-generation Flying Dutchman to be charging for the lead as TORC Series action continues!
Mike Vanden Heuvel would like to thank his sponsors for their contributions: Kenda Tires, Lincoln Electric, ATD Transmission, FK Rod Ends, Boatec, AMSOIL
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.