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Posted August 6, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Annual ATV race thrills crowd at Warren County Fair

By Linwood Outlaw III -- loutlaw@nvdaily.com

Mason Longerbeam throws a trail of mud
Mason Longerbeam, 14, of Winchester, throws a trail of mud on a run-through at the ATV Dirt Drag Racing contest at the Warren County Fair on Wednesday night. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Terren Sullivan on an ATV
Terren Sullivan, 10, of Front Royal, makes a pass at the ATV drag strip. Dennis Grundman/Daily

FRONT ROYAL -- Fans began filling the bleachers near the dirt track at the Warren County Fairgrounds shortly before 6 p.m. on Wednesday, expecting to hear loud engines and see dozens of all-terrain vehicles going full speed in a drag racing contest.

Eventually, they got what they came to see--just a little later than anticipated.

More than 100 people were expected to participate in Wednesday's ATV Dirt Drag Racing contest at the 52nd annual Warren County Fair. However, by 6 p.m. -- the advertised start time for the event -- people were still lining up at the booth to enter the race, coordinator Chris Bohrer said. The single-round elimination race didn't start until sometime after 7 p.m.

It's pretty much a no-brainer as to what draws riders and fans to the annual racing event, Bohrer said.

"The sparkle. The loud [sounds]. The noise. The quickness. The dirt flying. Mostly, the noise. That's what it's all about," Bohrer said, adding that trophies for this year's race will be awarded to first, second and third place winners.

It doesn't take long to reach the finish line. But, speed and sharp hand-and-eye coordination are the keys to success in any ATV dirt drag race, and the result could be determined in a millisecond, Bohrer said.

"When that light turns green, and you're still sitting there, and [your opponent] is going, you've already lost the race," Bohrer said. "You've got to be quick on that light. But, you don't want to be too early ... It's a quick deal. It only takes four or five seconds, and you're done. But, it's a lot of fun."

Adults and children brought their ATVs to the fairgrounds to take part in their respective competitions. Stacy and Joe Sullivan's 10-year old son, Terren, was among the young riders gearing up for the race. Terren, who also participated in last year's ATV race at the fair, was calm and relaxed prior to the event. His mom was a little more anxious.

"I get a little too excited [watching him race]," Stacy Sullivan said.

Joe Sullivan isn't an ATV rider himself, but he takes great pride in watching his son excel on the dirt track. Finishing in first place is great, but the race is all about having fun, Joe Sullivan said. "You're supposed to have fun at it. I don't put any pressure on [Terren]. If he wins, he wins. If he doesn't, that's fine, too," Joe Sullivan said.

Front Royal resident Chris Rathore, however, wanted a first place trophy badly. Rathore, 37, didn't finish any better than second or third place at other ATV races at the fair in years past, and he was hoping he could finally bring home the top prize on Wednesday night.

"It's really a lot of hours getting everything ready ... making sure everything is just right," Rathore said prior to the race. "Because, you don't want to come out here and run out of gas."

The ATV Dirt Drag Race is among several events at the fair, which ends on Saturday. A demolition derby is set to begin at 7 p.m. tonight, and another round of ATV racing is on tap for Friday night.

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