Drivers take tippy trip around Baja racing track

Vehicles had a tendency to turn sideways or upside-down during the Hubbard County Fair grandstand event.

Austin Bedsen (25) nearly tips his car over while pursuing Rylee Smith (77) around a hairpin curve during the Baja racing event July 16, 2022 at the Hubbard County Fair. Trailing Bedsen at the moment is Rocky Klitzke (3), who ultimately won the race.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
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Gage Brown's "Baby Shark" car (08) gets an assist back onto its wheels after flipping upside-down during the Baja racing event July 16, 2022 at the Hubbard County Fair. Many competitors' vehicles turned on their side or rolled-wheels up on the course's tight turns and high embankments.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Baja racing paused several times July 16 at the Hubbard County Fair to right vehicles that had turned on their sides or rolled on their roofs during the rough-and-tumble dirt track event.

In most cases, the racers continued to roll after their vehicles were rolled upright again.

Racers lined up in two classes – three 6-cylinder and one 4-cylinder car combined into a single class, and three V8/four-wheel drive vehicles including a Jeep, a pickup and a minivan.

However, by the end of two seven-lap heats and a 10-lap final in each class, many of the vehicles that started were out of commission, including two or three that were disabled by a broken axle.

In the V8/4WD final, Andrew Larson forced his way from third place into first, only to go off the track by mistake and fall behind Jeff Martinsen. He was never able to regain the lead.


Andrew Larson (773), substitute driving for Tara Harsha, races toward a tight curve between two vehicles both registered to a Jeff Martinsen (D58 and D63) during the second heat of the V8/4WD division of Baja racing July 16, 2022 at the Hubbard County Fair.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Larson had driven most of the race as a substitute for Tara Harsha, who emerged a bit shaken after being the first driver to overturn her vehicle.

After many closely-fought laps, Rocky Klitzke was the only driver in his class to finish the 4- and 6-cylinder final, driving uncontested for the last few laps to the checkered flag.

Racers participated without any hope of advancing to a higher level of competition or advancing in league standings. Co-organizer Mark Harsha said the event, now in its third year, is just a way for local people to do something for the fair.

Gage Brown (08) forces his way past Rylee Smith (77) during a turn in the second heat of the car class in the Baja racing event July 16, 2022 at the Hubbard County Fair.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

“A lot of county fairs do it,” he said. “Basically, we started it just to try to get the fair to have another evening to boost entertainment here.”

Asked about the rules, Tara Harsha said, “Anything goes.”

“You go around,” Mark agreed. “A little rubbing and bumping is good.”

Audience members were offered an opportunity following the races to take the surviving Baja racing cars for a spin around the track. Volunteers from the audience who signed up included Cal Moir, James Sperling, Danielle Phillips, Alan Ritari and Joelle Blanchard.

Andrew Larson (773) squeezes past one of the Jeff Martinsen vehicles (D63) during the final race in the V8/4WD class during the Baja racing event July 16, 2022 at the Hubbard County Fair. Meanwhile, the other Martinson vehicle (D58) sits disabled on the dirt banks alongside the track.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise
The demolition derby July 17 at the Hubbard County Fair featured some $8,600 in prizes.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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