Eric Saunders to serve as grand marshal at Red Bud

Published 6:53 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS — Pro motocross racer Eric Saunders will bust out his custom Polaris RANGER RZR and lead this weekend’s Traxxas TORC Series, presented by AMSOIL parade laps when the nation’s premier short course competition off-road racing series opens at Saunders’ all-time favorite MX track — RedBud.

The crowd’s expected to be big and many of the crossover MX fans in attendance know Saunders, having followed his race career from a six year old on mini cycles through last summer when the Lakeville, Ind., native moved up to the pro ranks to contest the MX Lites class on the AMA outdoor national circuit.

Those that don’t recognize his name will just think it’s some dude in a side x side, “lucky” that he gets to pull the holeshot on the RedBud/TORC parade laps.

But quite a few more fans at the RedBud/TORC race will have tears in their eyes as Saunders makes his first return to RedBud – having been paralyzed in a motocross crash on his home track this past August.

“I’m pretty pumped. Returning to RedBud – with the greatest dirt on earth – is going to be unreal,” said Saunders. “I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for some time.”

Saunders’ specially-equipped RANGER RZR has hand controls similar to his dirt bike, which will allow Saunders to navigate the new RedBud off-road track – specifically designed for the TORC Series off-road PRO 4 and PRO 2 trucks. And though Saunders’ eyes might get real big when he lines up the famous “LaRocco’s Leap” jump at RedBud, he’ll have to keep ‘er in check … at least for now.

“There’s definitely been some talk of taking it to the next level,” said Saunders, who was recently named the General Manager of nearby Plymouth Speedway. “Pretty much all we need is some suspension work and I can take this Polaris racing.”

Saunders will have the green light to go race – and the backing – from family friend and NASCAR great, Tony Stewart. And as he continues to rehab and improve his strength, there’s no doubt a UTV (side x side) ride will be in his future as they’re racing the latest new extreme powersports vehicle all over the United States.

“USAC’s more than just a sanctioning body – they’re there to help the racers,” said Irish Saunders, Eric’s father, of TORC’s sanctioning body. “And they’ve certainly helped us out.”

Eric will no doubt be all over the pro pits and around the RedBud/TORC track all weekend in his RANGER RZR . If he’s not doing too fast, flag him down and buy an “I can, I will” T-shirt off him. The funds definitely go to a great cause.