The Olympics are in full swing, but you don’t have to travel all the way to PyeongChang to see some incredible humans racing downhill at amazing speeds.
In fact, thanks to a new event that debuted in central Arkansas last year, you don’t even have to leave the state.
The second annual Race at the Frack, a downhill longboard race created by rider Derrick Thomas Duncan and some local longboarder friends, is set for April 7-8 near Greer’s Ferry, Arkansas.
Duncan founded the event last year as a way to stay involved with the sport he loved after an accident left him unable to skate.
Race at the Frack
When: April 7-8
Where: Clinton, Arkansas
More info: raceatthefrack.com
“I had actually gotten in a really bad wreck skating and left me paralyzed,” he said. “So being me, I’m still obsessed with the sport, so I started looking at topographical maps and ended up finding the (course) road.”
The course, a mile-long downhill run on Leech Drive near the Middle Fork Little Red River, has a fracking site near the top, which gave Duncan’s race its name.
“The first time we went to the road we happened to meet some super welcoming locals and I just went ahead and asked about having an event there and they were stoked on the idea,” Duncan said.
The first ever Race at the Frack took place last year, and drew long boarders from eight states. This year, organizers are planning for an even larger event.
“We had a good crowd, and things went as smooth as can be,” Duncan said. “This year is planning to be way bigger. We’ve had to move campsites to accommodate (the event), so we’ll be staying at the Devil’s Fork Campground on Greer’s Ferry Lake.”
Some well-known skaters, including Chase Hiller, Kavon Zamanian, and Adam Heironimus, are involved with the event, and are expected to be back for the second year.
Duncan said that long boarding has increased in popularity in recent years in Arkansas, due in large part to the topography of the Ozarks that create some killer downhill runs.
Photo: Joseph Giddens
“Arkansas/the Ozarks or as we call it, ‘the NoCoast,’ offers everything for this sport,” he said. “(There is) anything from beginner territory all the way up to 60-70 mph runs.”
Zamanian, who currently lives in Fayetteville and who raced in the inaugural event last year, said the course at Race at the Frack is a perfect example of what the state of Arkansas has to offer for downhill longboarders.
“The road is really a blast,” Zamanian said. “While the top speed isn’t as high as that of other races, you accelerate very quickly in the second half of the course due to the extremely steep grade. The combination of the last three corners is pretty technical, and since they’re so close together it makes for some interesting racing. I’d argue it’s one of the best tracks currently being raced in the country.”
He also offered a few tips for Fayetteville residents interested in taking up the sport.
“Fayetteville is covered in hills ranging from mellow to daunting,” he said. “Green Valley off Sycamore is fun even if you’re just starting. The best local run is Mount Sequoyah, though you need to be in control and cautious there since it’s a high-traffic neighborhood. It’s best to have an experienced local lead you down that one. To anyone new out there, locals are all in the Arkansas Longboarders group on Facebook if you want to reach out.”
Race events are set for both Saturday, April 7 and on Sunday, April 8, and registration for the race is $100. Riders can also register for a “free ride” of the hill on Saturday for $60.
Spectators can watch the race for free, and Duncan said there will be some great spots to check out the action. The event will also include live music, and other festivities for non-riders.
“This course offers the best spectating I’ve seen for an event around here,” he said. “We have what’s called party corner and it offers a ton of spectating room and you get to see some of the best action on the course!”
Zamanian said he thinks the race has the potential to become one of the most anticipated events in the state.
“I think the Frack has a lot of potential,” he said. “Last year it was pretty low key from a national perspective, but this year word has spread more, so it’ll give a better idea of how big we can expect it to get. That said, this region is lacking in big events, and Arkansas has never really had its chance to shine in that regard, so I’m hoping in the next couple of years this awesome course and great community will make it a country-wide staple.”