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Grand Prix kicks up dust, fun at fund-raiser

PARK HILLS — The eighth annual Racers for Research Flat River Grand Prix brought out more than 200 ATV riders and many more spectators Saturday.

Greg Kinkelaar, a coordinator of the race, said the turnout was great and he credits the sunny and cooler weather.

This year, they had 214 people from all over competing in the ATV race. Last year, about 150 competed.

He said the race, which was held primarily in St. Joe State Park near the Missouri Mines State Historic Site, is probably the biggest in the Missouri Hare Scramble Series. An added plus is it raises money for the March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation.

Riders from across the country and also from the local area competed.

Andrew Burcham, 24, of Desloge was one of the local riders. It was his first ATV race.

Burcham said the race was really tough. He said the terrain was rough and there were rocks on the trail.

But he said the biggest problem was the dust.

“It was really dusty,” he said. “I couldn’t see anything.”

He said once the racers scattered out, he was able to see better. But he said there were a lot of wrecks and a lot of blown tires.

One rider collided with a utility pole and another rider got stuck in the creek.

Burcham said he didn’t have any serious problems with his ATV and he will probably be back next year.

Diane Horn, another course official, said they did have a lot of accidents but there were no major injuries. She said the racers did have trouble seeing where they were going.

The ATV race began in downtown Park Hills about 12:30 p.m. — a later start than in past years. A portion of Main Street was shut down by police for a brief time for the racers.

This year, more women participated in the ATV race. There were seven women riders registered for the race.

The race lasted about two hours.

Kinkelaar, the president of the Missouri Dirt Riders Association, and Garry Horn, president of the Friends of St. Joe, together started the race in 1996. They both do volunteer work and had been looking for a charity when they heard about the March of Dimes’ Bikers for Babies.

Kinkelaar said it just started out as a hare scramble race and then they got permission to give away the governor’s cup at this race.

He said this year, Missouri rules forced the ATV race to start later in the day. Because it started later, they decided not to have their annual poker run.

But today, they will continue activities with a peewee race for ATVs and motorcycles at 9 a.m. A total of 25 peewee racers competed Saturday morning.

The Missouri Hare Scramble Motorcycle Race will start at 12:30 p.m. and last about two hours.

There is a $5 gate fee. There is a $20 race entry fee.

All proceeds from the event go to the March of Dimes. During the past seven years, racers have raised nearly $190,000 for the March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation and its campaign for healthier babies.

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