At one time a Husqvarna four-stroke was the most prized off-road ride in my garage, and it would have been my first choice for any off-road race. But that was a long time ago. Now, not even the country of origin remains the same for this latest Husky. The machines come from Italy, as they have for 20 years, but now the owner is neither Swedish, as the brand was until 1988, nor Italian, but German, as in BMW.Glenn Kearney's 2008 race season was supposed to be spent as Summers Racing's number one rider working the bugs out of BMW's new 450, but things changed; GK was aboard a Husky all year. His mount of choice was the carbureted 450 TXC-a model that features somewhat tamed moto specs with off-road suspension and an 18-inch rear wheel.During the season Kearney nailed Husky's best GNCC and National Hare Scrambles finishes in decades, so he's a factory Husky GNCC and HS rider for '09. When the opportunity knocked to ride a Kearney replica at the Ironman GNCC finale in Indiana, I jumped. I've been to this race near Indianapolis before, and it has some of the best dirt to be found in the cornfields that stitch together the rutted and technical woods sections.Mechanic-to-the-stars Wyatt Seals built a second TXC, and made it as identical to Kearney's bike as possible. He didn't go overboard with the "replica" stuff. He spaced the handlebar up for my height, and even though I insisted the suspension would be fine, he opted to go up a spring rate at each end.Summers and the rest of the team use WER suspension, but Kearney's is modified by Seals, so I ran the Moto Works suspension but without the works lower fork legs. I did spend some time on Kearney's actual race bike before the race, even though I felt a little weird mud-riding his machine just hours before his pro race, but Seals and Kearney insisted, and I was glad I did. His bike survived unscathed, and I was able to see how close the replica I raced was to Kearney's Pro-class weapon.Even though the TXC has an electric start, and the engine fired perfectly on all my practice starts, when the moment of truth came and the flagman started my class it didn't light until the rest of the row was gone. I was all alone on the line.Unlike other brands of current four-strokes, Husky (the Italian one) has been building racing enduro four-strokes for 20 years-since well before the current crop of light-switch wonders. This is a current and modern engine, but the Italians kept some of that old-time, low-rpm thump that used to define four-strokes. Twist it a little harder and the time warp is over. A meaty midrange and a free-revving scream welcome you back to the future. All five gears are nicely spaced, and aside from a little more engine-braking than a modern MXer, the off-idle grunt comes with no penalty. Use it to search for traction when there is little to be had, and you'll work most of a GNCC course while hardly cracking the throttle.The Ironman alternates tight woods with wide-open cornfields. The race is won in careful aggression in the woods and sustained speed and acceleration in the fields, but you lose if you don't get through the diabolical ruts in the stream crossings. Kearney's TXC finessed the trees, blasted the flat bits and proved unstoppable in the bottlenecks. The racecourse was much rougher than our test area, and because of those bumps combined with the wealth of ruts, Seals' stiffer springs were welcome. My complaints were limited to a clutch-finger blister and my botched start, neither of which can be directly blamed on the bike. I recovered to seventh on the first lap, but one of the guys I saw head-down in a ditch on lap one reeled me in, and I finished eighth in class, a trophy position.