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Turtlefest debuts 'ATV Madness' - June 19

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Turtlefest's first-ever 'ATV Madness' on Sunday, June 19 at Memorial Park will be more like three events in one.

"We're going to have some ATV drag racing," said organizer Rob Franklin of Tillsonburg, noting it will be 'king of the hill' style with one winner.

It's a straight up elimination format. One race. Lose and you're done. If you win, you carry on.

"It should give us a true sense of the fastest ATV and side by side that came to the event."

If all goes according to plan, Franklin said they will have 'drag lights' like they have at drag strips.

"Still being made, hopefully they'll be done in time."

Their drag strip will measure 200-300 feet, using east side of the old horse track, farthest from the Community Centre. Exact distance will be determined before race day.

"There's quite a bit of distance here so we can go 300 feet no problem, but we'll see how fast it is," he said, noting they need room for safe braking.

"They go fast - there will be some here with nitrous from up north. We'll have the fastest mud ATVs in Ontario here."

But drag racing is only one of three events at ATV Madness. They will also hold an ATV Mud Bog inside the south end of the track (former horse pen area), which has been used in the past for demolition derbies.

"It's 150 feet of mud, anywhere from 2-3 feet deep. That's a straight timed event - one person in the pit at a time."

In addition to the main mud pit, there will be a 'play area' mud pit for kids on their mini ATVs.

"Let the kids have some fun when their moms and dads are racing."

Chesterman's Power Products and Lockhart's Odyssey, two of their main sponsors, will both have displays on-site. Also sponsoring are Tillsonburg Rentals and Canadian Tire.

The third event is an ATV sled pull, 200 feet on the track closest to the Community Centre.

"It's the same sled they use for mini tractor pulls."

Some participants, he said, will use the same ATVs for two or three events. Some bring more than one all-terrain vehicle.

"When I do it, I usually have my mud tires, and I'll change my tires for the sled pull, then change my tires and do the drag racing. Some guys modify their ATVs for each event. Some will just run on their mud tires. It all depends on their budget. I've seen in the past some guys run on their mud tires and nobody can beat them."

New to Turtlefest, ATV Madness registration is open to anyone.

"You don't have to be competitive," noted Rick Cox, Director of Recreation, Culture and Parks. "And there are different classes."

Local teens/adults, he said, can see where they stack up against other ATVers.

"We're not gearing it strictly for racers," Franklin nodded. "Hopefully, something for everybody."

The registration fee covers an entire day's worth of events. Drag racing is win-or-done, but the mud bog and sled pulling are unlimited. Following the official drag racing, Franklin said they should have time for 'just for fun' drag racing.

"You could do the mud bog three times and, hopefully, you pick your top three times," said Cox, noting the best three times are averaged to pick event winner. "And the sled pull averages your top two times."

Franklin and Cox are emphasizing safety for ATV Madness, which will include rider gear (appropriate clothing and footwear) and helmets. One person per ATV/side by side. It's also a non-alcohol event, Franklin noted.

ATVs will be brought to the fairgrounds (Memorial Park) on trailers.

A drivers meeting will be held, Sunday, June 19, from 9-10 a.m. and the events follow at 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

A $35 entry fee covers entry to Memorial Park for the day, all the ATV Madness events, and all other Turtlefest events (stage entertainment, bounce castles, and more).

Contact Rob Franklin at 519-550-1729 for more information.

"I've been racing (ATVs) for eight years," said Franklin, "so it's nice to finally have something in town. I've always wanted to have one here in Tillsonburg."

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