Racers start your engines! Polaris was kind enough to invite ACEForums.net out to participate in the first ever ACE Race that was held at the GNCC Ironman races in Crawfordsville, IN. Our race took place after all the ATV races and just before the UTV races started. Because of that, we had a good amount of ruts and ATV race lines worn into the track before we started. I have never been to, nor competed in a GNCC race before, and I was not sure exactly what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised! The track was pretty much carved out of a corn field that ran down through some very narrow wooded trails. Up on top of the wide open field the track designers built a gnarly high speed Motocross track. The majority of our race was held on this Motocross portion where there were some steep elevation changes and large table top jumps. I didn't know how the ACE 570 would handle this section, but it far exceeded my expectations.
Something that was new to me right off the bat was that all GNCC races are a dead engine start. So before the race starts they wave a blue flag and you have to kill your engine. The announcer yells on the loud speaker when there is about ten seconds until the race starts and you have to sit there in the dead silence until the green flag is waved. When they wave the green flag you can start your machine and take off. So I thought I would be smart by leaving my ACE in high gear, hold the brake with my left foot so that I could start the vehicle, and then mash the gas with my right foot as soon as the green flag dropped. This all sounded good in theory, but after giving the ACE what I thought was several good cranks I pulled my foot off the brake too early and it killed the engine. Everyone else in the race got the jump while I had to do the starting sequence over again and come from the back of the pack.
The tight turns and sweeping turns all had massive hay bails at the apex which made for a really fun racing experience! I did my best to shave the edge off these bails and keep my racing line as tight as possible. The ACE is one of the narrower Polaris machines, but I threw caution to the wind and let it all hang out. The ACE was surprisingly stable even in the high speed sweeping turns considering our overall width was 54'' as best. Even with my horrible start, I came from the back of the pack and moved up into 4th place going into the third turn. I battled it out with second and third place for the rest of the Motocross part of the race and ended up slipping by them both when we hit the trees. At this point I'm feeling pretty good about working my way up from almost last and now running up in the clean air in second place. I started picking my way through the tight wooded part of the course when my luck runs out. In the woods there were several different racing lines that were carved out from the ATV racers that ran before us. Unfortunately for me, I picked one of the narrowest lines that had no room for error. I'm trucking along thinking I'm playing it safe when all of a sudden the trail I'm on takes me between two trees that are narrower than my ACE is wide. I try and go up on a smaller tree to the right that looks to be falling over, but it ends up kicking me to the left and rams my front left tire straight into a tree! This is the mistake that ends my day.
I had a great time racing the ACE and experiencing this event! The GNCC Ironman is a "must see" racing event that is family oriented and packed with racing action. All the big manufacturers and aftermarket companies were there to sell product and provide racing support as well. Polaris had several of their new machines on display and were giving free ACE demo rides. I can't thank them enough for the opportunity to race the ACE 570 and for making it such an enjoyable experience. Thank you to Polaris for all that you do!