Axial Driver Jake Hallenbeck Rocks Utah Ultra4 race
2014 American Rock Sports Challenge, Toole, UT
words and photos by: Mike Plunkett
As usual , when Jake Hallenbeck of Marked Motorsports shows up to the track in the Axial sponsored
Bomber car. Everyone recognizes how well the car has been prepped just by the way it looks.
After the prep is all complete, Jake and his boys spend hours detailing the car for every event, and it
shows! ( I’ve even witnessed him washing it between heat races)
Fridays Practice went smoothly. While most of the teams spent all their time trying to perfect times through their
favorite lines. Jake, I noticed, spent most of his time driving alternate lines in the event of a course pile-up.
Racing rarely comes without issues so planning ahead is sometimes key. (Great tactics if you ask me).
Qualifying started out as expected until Jake had an axle break half way through the course slowing them considerably. He finished the coarse with a time of 2:07 minutes qualifying them 15th overall.
With the days activities coming to a close the rain started coming down heavily. They were forced to make an axle swap in less than ideal conditions. The team was able to get the axle completed that evening so they could get rested and wait to find out where they would be placed for saturday’s prelims.
It rained most of the night but by Saturday morning the sun was shinning. The nights rain made a muddy mess
of the track! It was some of the worst I have ever seen at an Ultra4 race! Luckily, Jake and the team found themselves in the 5th prelim of the day. This meant the mud had dried out only “slightly” making the track a little easier to navigate. And I do mean “slightly” as Jakes bomber is pictured. (Below) The mud was some of the worst i have ever seen at an ultra4 race. The race cars were unrecognizable to most.
Lining up 5th in the prelims would mean he would have to charge to the front to gain a better starting position
for the main event. As prelim 5 unfolded, traffic in the rocks worsened. They also found themselves battling a power issue from the motor that they thought was cured from the previous race! They sercombed and were able to finish 4th in their heat race guaranteeing them a spot in the main event. Not the starting position they were shooting for, but a spot in the main none the less.
With a few hours to the main event the team decided to clean up the mud acquired during the race. They also dug into the car once again in search of their power loss issue. Checking codes, temperatures of each cylinders, wiring, fuel pumps, and anything else they could have missed.
Based on their prelim times the line up was set for the main event. Jake and Co-dog Bernie found themselves to be starting 10th off the line. He knew he needed to be closer to the front to be within striking distance of those over powered IFS cars and have a chance at a podium finish.
As the main race began things started out as expected. Those IFS cars took off in a blistering pace, forcing Jake to push the car that much harder. Running a fast, yet consistent race was keeping him in the hunt, but at this pace he also found the cars power issues were still there and it was running hot at over 250 degrees!
I have been photographing and watching Jake since he started Ultra4 just a little over a year ago. Jake is known for waiting for drivers ahead to make mistakes and then pouncing. Could he hold out long enough and wait for those powerhouses to make a mistake? The mistakes were beginning to unfold but without the engine power, and what appeared to be some slower lap times, I wasnt sure if it was going to happen this time.
All of a sudden he began to run the buggy hard! It was time to pounce and see where the cards stacked. I scrambled to run around the track and get photos and thats when things got rather confusing! One leader rolled, another lost his lead and was forced to run on a flat front tire, teams were being slowed for recovery vehicles, and in general, I don’t think anyone knew what position they were in anymore!
When the checkered flag was thrown, we all knew Loren Healy had won but we were being told Jake was running in 2nd or 3rd? By the time I arrived at the podium officials had spent several minutes of checking the electronic transponders and sorting things out. Dave Cole of Ultra4 announced Jake finished 4th behind Loren Healy, Jason Scherer, and Erik Miller in that order.
Considering the issues they had and a couple hundred horsepower shy of what the leaders were running, it ended up being a pretty good weekend for the Axial sponsored team! Im proud of Jake and his Marked Motorsports team for staying smooth and consistent as he does so well. Jake, you can run with most anyone! Good job you guys…