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K&N-Supported Andrew Carlson Takes Multiple Wins in 2017 TORC PRO Light and PRO 2

After years of SnowCross competition Andrew is concentrating solely on TORC off-road truck racing

Carlson Moto added a PRO 2 truck to give Andrew more seat time. No one figured he'd take three wins

There is any number of drivers who transitioned from one type of racing to another and in doing so became even more successful. Formula 1 legend Gilles Villeneuve started out racing snowmobiles, Jimmie Johnson had won off-road races in a trophy truck before he began racing in ASA, and Jeff Gordon has thousands of miles of racing sprint cars on the dirt before he ever drove a race car with a roof.

Those examples are not unlike the path that Andrew Carlson has chosen. Raised in Minnesota, his entire family participated in snowmobiling, both recreationally and competitively. “Racing has always been a big thing in my family and it is what I have loved doing since a young age, Andrew added. How young? "I raced snowmobiles since I was 4 years old so I have been around racing my whole life.”

His professional snowmobiling career consisted primarily of Snocross, which is exactly what it sounds like: motocross on the white stuff wrestling 460-pound sleds.

Andrew competed in both ISOC Snocross racing and in the Winter X-Games. Asked before the start of this year’s truck racing season, Andrew told us which events were the most memorable for him “I took four wins and 13 podiums in the 2014 Snocross National Pro Lite season and finished second in the 2014 PRO Light season points championship. The highlight of my off-road career was claiming my first-ever win at the inaugural Twin Cities Takedown in front of the home town crowd,” the young Minnesotan said.

The Carlson Moto team relies upon K&N Filters not just for their racers, but cars and trucks too

Andrew Carlson started the season with the objective to win the PRO Lights Championship

The changeover to short-course off-road racing has been brewing for a while. Andrew picks up the story: “My parents allowed me to pick one place I wanted go on a family vacation when I graduated from high school,” Andrew recalls. “It could be anywhere; and I wanted to go see a big-time race. I eventually picked a TORC Series race in Bark River, Michigan. We rented a motorhome and everyone thought it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen.”

So what made you want to stop racing snowmobiles to start racing off-road trucks? “I have always been interested in off-road racing and have watched many motocross racers transition to truck racing. I got an opportunity to drive in a race a few years ago and have been hooked ever since," Andrew explained.

After a couple of years of doing a little truck racing on the side, Andrew officially retired from professional Snocross in March, 2017 so that his concentration is solely on TORC competition. Andrew had already energized his father Chris, a successful local businessman, to expand Carlson Moto to include a TORC operation.

In August of 2014, Andrew made his TORC PRO Light start at the world-famous Crandon, Wisconsin, off-road course. Andrew had managed less than a full lap of practice and was starting with 27 other PRO Light trucks (PRO Lights are basically spec-design tube frame trucks with 450 HP engines, with everything a little smaller than the more powerful, more capable PRO 2 RWD trucks, which could be compared to a desert-racing trophy truck).

Had Andrew started the season in PRO 2 and been as compeitive he could be fitting for the title

Andrew was immediately competitive in the PRO 2 class, despite an increase of 300 horsepower

It was an inauspicious start, with Andrew rolling the truck on the first lap, and then a flailing flat tire carcass wiped out a brake. Both were repaired during the mid-race mandatory caution. While Andrew ran as high as fourteenth, the final results are estimated to several rookie mistakes. Not only did the experience not dampen his enthusiasm, it inflamed it.

In 2015 and 2016 Andrew competed in both Snocross and TORC, with an eye to moving full-time to the trucks. He collected his first podium finish in 2015 at Bark River. His first ever off-road victory came in 2016 as his home track (literally his home track, his father is a partner in ERX Motorsports Park) in a PRO Light truck, along with three more podiums. That sealed the deal and he announced his retirement at the end of the 2016-2017 Snocross reason.

Andrew explained for us what the change has been like. “The transition from snow to dirt has been an interesting learning curve. Carlson Moto is no stranger to racing, but off-road is a very unique thing. I am still amazed every time I get in the truck by what these machines can do. The fact that you are strapped to a bunch of tubes with 450 HP on call with a flick of your right foot is something that is unexplainable. It’s an amazing feeling that I have not experienced in any other form of motorsports,” said the 24 year old driver.

And now as a full-time off-road racer, Andrew is certainly making a mark for himself. The season started in Chicago less than two months and just 100 miles away from his last-ever Snocross race.

Andrew seems to relish the extra power available to him in a PRO 2 truck

Andrew leaves a roost for us all to admire.

Andrew managed to grab fifth in the first round and capture a second in the second round – solid finishes for the start of a long, hard season. For round three at ERX Motor Park, Andrew took seventh out of 13 trucks entered when an over-aggressive move caused him to flip. Weather canceled the second race, rescheduled for September.

Despite being third fastest in practice, Andrew had to settle for a pair of fourths at the Big House Brawl, rounds five and six, held at Crandon, a rock trapped in a brake caliper slowed him on Sunday and a slow start made for a tough climb through the field on Sunday.

To the surprise of many, Andrew and Carlson Moto appeared at the Throwdown in the U.P. in Bark River with two trucks: a PRO 2 truck, which clearly suited Andrew as to took an unchallenged class win in round seven and a second place in round eight, despite the fact he’d not even driven the PRO 2 truck on dirt until that weekend. In his PRO Light truck Andrew finished fifth in round seven and took a sixth in round eight.

“Saturday was the first time I drove the truck on a track, ever. Lining up on the front row, I didn’t know who I could run with - I had never run this truck behind anyone. I didn’t know what the PRO 2 roost would be like, or anything. I can’t say I expected to do this. I wanted to give it my all and have fun, but I’ll take this,” Andrew explained, still excited by his surprise victory.

Andrew has become a force to be reckoned with in PRO2

The post-race television interview: one of the spoils of victory

Continuing to drive two trucks at each event, Andrew, now a newlywed, again won round nine in PRO 2 on Saturday at the new facility in Red Bud, Michigan, dropping out about a third of the way into round 10 due to a ruptured oil cooler. He took victory in Pro Lite in round nine, also on Saturday, making it a double podium finish. In round 10, Andrew completed just half-distance due to a coolant line failure to finish seventh.

“We’ve been racing as a family for many years,” said team owner Chris Carlson, “Saturday was one of the most exciting and fulfilling days we’ve ever had at the race track.”

Round 11 was titled “Keys To The Big House” and they’re not talking about a prison. IndyCars have the Indy 500, sports cars have Le Mans, and desert racers have Baja. Short-course off-road racers have Crandon International Raceway, which has hosted events on Labor Day weekend for 48 years. In the world of short-course off-road racing, Crandon IS the Big House.

So now, on a Labor Day weekend, three years after Andrew’s first-ever start in a short-course off-road truck, he’s lined up with the Pro 2 field for a land rush start. The flag drops and Andrew grabs the holeshot, pulling away from the field. With 14 trucks behind him, it’s one of the largest fields of the season, but he’s gone unchallenged through the first half of the race. After the mandatory mid-race caution, only Brad Lovell got as much as a peek on the inside but was never really a threat. Andrew took his fourth Pro 2 victory of the season, despite a late season start in that class.

K&N is proud of its long association with Carlson Moto and happy to have made the transition with them from the snow to the dirt. In speaking for the entire Carlson organization, Andrew shared that “it’s awesome working with a company like K&N because they have great products that make a real impact on our race trucks’ performance.”


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