Desert Turtle Racing KOH 2018 Race Recap

Desert Turtle Racing KOH 2018 Race Recap

KOH 2018 Race Week:
First and foremost, we were stoked to be setting up our pits in the Lasernut Laser Town hanger. We arrived at Laser Town and got the Turtle set up in the hanger and set up all our camp stuff. We did a little last minute shock tuning on the Rock Krawler shocks to get them dialed in for race day, then headed over to get registered for the race. Monday was our qualifying day and in practice we discovered that the motor was running not so peppy. We learned that we had to shift to 4-Lo just to get up the hill climb and then shift back into 4-Hi to finish the lap. It hurt our qualifying times a bit but we were still able to get an 11th in class start for Thursday’s race. We also discovered that we had a melted coil pack and spark plug that were causing the engine to run poorly. We were able to get in a run around Lap 1 of the KOH course and mark down some trouble spots on GPS as well as set up our lines to get through the new “Notches” area that Ultra4 added to the course this year. We were feeling pretty good about the course of Lap 1 and the car was running well. We headed out for a pre-run of Lap 2 and got through a couple trails but unfortunately cracked the oil pan on a couple big hits and that caused us to call the pre-running extremely short. A big part of our pit support this year was provided by Dust Junkies Racing and they just so happened to be near where we broke down and gave us a helping hand to get back to Laser Town. We spent the rest of our pre-running time hunting down an oil pan and making repairs to the rig and studying the course map.

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KOH 2018 EMC Race Day:
Let’s just start with, the green flag dropped and we were off and running! Darin was behind the wheel and ready to attack the desert lap. The first few miles had us on edge, knowing that race nerves can cause you to overdrive the rig and/or potentially suffer flats. As we clicked off the early miles we passed many rigs that had suffered exactly that, and a couple others with some quick driving decisions. We were able to maintain a good pace and cruise through unscathed. As we passed by RM12 we felt the rig was doing well. We radioed to Dust Junkies at Remote Pit 1 that we didn’t need a tire change and opted pass through without a stop. They responded with “Well done. We’ll catch you on the flip side at RM48”. We waved on the way by the pits and were feeling great about the rig. We kept clicking off the miles, passing other racers along the way. As we arrived at “The Notches” a little ways past RM24 we followed a couple other rigs into the banner area. Again, we passed a few others that were floundering in the rocks not knowing where to go. We stuck to our pre-planned route and managed to maneuver around a couple more. As we exited, we were on the tail of a 4800 rig and we decided to go for the pass in a whooped-out section to the drivers left. We made the pass, but we also went for a good ride when the front end got bucked pretty high, and we were reminded that we needed to tone it back.

 

We got back on our pace as we rounded the half-way point at RM32, and we continued carrying a good pace, picking our way through the tight desert section before reaching RM47, where we again needed to radio to the Dust Junkies at Remote Pit 1 what our plans were. We chatted for a bit about how the rig was doing, we were not hearing any strange sounds, and we again didn’t need to stop for a tire change. We hit the pit zone and again gave the big thumbs up as we passed by. Heading out crossing the base line we knew the speeds were going to pick up as we rounded the big bend at RM52. Around RM54 we had a close encounter with a bird — this bird was about 20 feet off the deck and clocking us for speed about 50 feet off the front passenger corner of the rig. At least it seemed that close. So we mashed the gas to pick up the pace and see what they would do. We gave them the applause and enjoyed the camera man hanging off the side of the helicopter. Let’s hope it makes the cut into some footage somewhere.

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We reached the intersection at the baseline exit and headed out across the dry, dusty Melville lakebed. At times we couldn’t see much more than a few feet in front of us. Picking our way up into the top of Resolution, preparing for our drop down it and Backdoor, we knew we had just a couple more miles before we were back to Main. We had a bit of a close call at Backdoor — we got in a little bit of a hurry to prevent another rig from passing us and did a great nose pose with the rear tires straight up in the air. We hit the gas to prevent the roll-over and hit the rear bumper hard on the rock wall behind us… BUT we were down and all four wheels and the rig was still moving. We called in to pits that we were down but took a hard hit and would need to look the rig over really well. We made the last of the little climbs before hitting the short course and the Main Pits. At this point we were pretty stoked Darin just had a VERY clean run on Lap 1 and suffered ZERO flats with our Falken tires. We had a feeling that we were sitting in a pretty good position and it was time to change drivers.

And so the race continues… Lap 2 — Randall is now in the driver’s seat and ready to take on the rock sections. Before we got there, we had to run through the first 8 miles of the Lap 1 again, and then around the desert for another 9 miles before reaching Remote Pit 2A. Again, we kept a descent pace intent on not overdriving the rig. As we reached Remote Pit 2A the rig was feeling pretty good and we called in to let them know that we would just be passing by. We headed into the first rock trail, Boulder Dash, and made pretty quick work of it. We headed down Upper Big Johnson and continued across the valley and around to the bottom of Wrecking Ball. While we were in Wrecking Ball we had a few difficulties leading up to the waterfall but cruised right up the bypass line and continued on. At RM85 we headed over to Fissure Mountain to run across the top of the range and down to Sledgehammer. Another new thing for the Ultra4 race this year was the addition of two trails at RM90, Idle Issues and Her Problem, two trails that I did not get to pre-run nor even see. As we approached the trail we saw the trail markers but the terrain looked untraveled and there were no obvious lines. There was no stopping us on this trail we picked it apart, as if we were cutting a new trail. We had a little trouble getting through Chocolate Thunder but were able to keep our cool and get back on track.

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Once we got over into Jack North we felt something strange in the steering and decided we should stop and take a look. What we discovered was the mount on the axle for the Hydro Assist Ram has been torn off and the Ram was just hanging there cycling left and right. We also discovered that all of the drive flange bolts on the rear axle (BOTH SIDES!) had backed out and we were leaking a ton of gear oil. We tightened up the flange bolts, removed the hydro-ram and capped the hydro lines so we could continue the race. We wheeled up to the crux of Jack North and, like a replay of last year, Darin got out and spotted the rigs through and then got us through and we headed for Jack Hammer. The problem with not having Hydro Assist is that every rock the tires come in contact with will jolt the tires one way or another and that makes it very difficult to steer and stay on the line that you need to get over the rocks. Coming down Jack Hammer we made sure to plan way ahead and keep the car on the right line. Heading up the sand hills at RM93 was pretty fun with the new motor screaming as we made our way. We got around to Hells Gate and continued to struggle with the ability to steer and stay on the right line. Thankfully we had a new ZEON 10 winch from Warn on the rig to get us quickly un-stuck when necessary.

We cruised down Devils Slide and headed over into Sunbonnet Pass. We came upon a few other rigs in the trail and made passes when we could but also got stuck a few times, and again had to use the winch to get unstuck. Somewhere in Sunbonnet we got lodged between two big rocks and had to use our jack to get out, which cost us a significant amount of time. At that point we also discovered that we had cracked the oil pan again and it is was dripping. We took some time to look at the leak and see if we could spot the crack. We debated continuing the race with the leak but the concern was, if we cracked the oil pan even worse, we could damage the motor and possibly be stuck in a trail until the race is over. We agreed that we would make our way out of Sunbonnet and then reassess the condition of the rig. It’s always a hard decision to make but we had to make it. We decided to make our way to the stock bypass split at RM100 and call the race. We didn’t want to risk severe damage to the motor and didn’t want a late-night team recovery after the race. We got in touch with our pit crew at Remote Pit 2B and had them relay to Race Ops that we were out of the race at RM100.

Conclusion:
We finished our race as the 1st place DNF, putting us officially in 4th place by progression. Yes, you read that right — There were only three 4500 class rigs that finished the race, and only another nine rigs in the 4800 class. This race was a difficult one — Not because of the number of rock trails or a difficult desert lap, but because Mother Nature has not rained on the Hammer trails in some time, and that caused the dirt to be very dusty and the rocks to be covered in dust, and some holes to be extra deep.

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We would like to give a special thanks to several sponsors – To Off Road Development for providing the shop space for us to get ready for KOH. To Sucuri Security for stepping on board to support the team this year. To Warn for going above and beyond standard customer service to solve our winching issues. To Dust Junkies Racing for providing pit space and pit support at the race. To Lasernut for providing us space in the Laser Town Hanger at KOH. To Rock Krawler for their continued support in our race program. To Falken for providing ZERO flats this year on the Wildpeak M/T tires. And to our DTR team… Without them we would not be able to do what we do. We are a team that is more like a family and we are all in it together. Even though we did not finish, we did not lose. We come away smarter and stronger. We are still a young team and we continue to learn at every race.

Thanks to all of our sponsors for your continued support: Rock Krawler Suspension | Falken Tire | Sucuri Security | Axial Racing | Poison Spyder Customs | Raceline Wheels | DJ Safety | Fuel Safe | Rugged Radios | J. E. Reel | Rugged Routes | Lasernut | Currie Enterprises | Magnaflow | CTM Racing | sPOD | Artec Industries | PRP Seats | Luxwurx | Warn | Sharq Skinz | DGP Motion Media | Factor55 | 212 Performance Gloves | Off Road Development | Pacific Advisors | SoCal Services | Beachview Insurance | Villa Landscape Products | SoCal Land Maintenance | EctoVentures

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BAILEY COLE Wins the ULTRA4 Spidertax East Coast series

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From all of us at Axial R/C, CONGRATULATIONS TO BAILEY COLE!!!

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The 2017 KMC Battle in Bluegrass at Dirty Turtle Off-Road Park was an amazing event. It was the final race of the Ultra4 Spidertrax East Coast series. I was battling for the East Coast series lead, the National points lead, and a King of the Hammers spot. I would be racing both the 4800 and 4400 class. It was going to be a long couple days.

We started off with a little prerunning Friday. The course had the best short course I have raced on, tight woods, and huge hill climbs. The racing was going to be great. After a bit of practice it was time to qualify. We didn’t have perfect runs but did enough to earn 3rd place in 4800 and 17th in 4400 and, more importantly, we kept the car in one piece. We got a bit of sleep and prepared for the long day of racing to come.

Saturday was race day. I was a little nervous because I never have loved tree racing or water, but I trusted in my crew and co-driver keep us on track. The 4800 race started well. We passed 2nd place before the first hill climb. Then I started to track down Kent Fults. He flies through the trees. It was a great battle through the first lap. He pulled away from me after an early red flag situation. I saw him a lap later with broken steering after he hit a tree. We got past and set the car on cruise control. I had gotten about half a lap lead and wanted to preserve the car. Two laps from the finish I got a call on the radio that said Cade Rodd was gaining fast. I had to step it up if I wanted to stand on top of the box. We picked it up and set some fast laps. We were able to put one and a half minutes on Cade before the finish line. It was a perfect race. We were able to win the race and the East Coast Championship, winning my 3rd race in a row.

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While I went to the awards ceremony, my amazing Trent Fab crew prepped the car for the main race. They were pleased that all they had to do was splash fuel. Lining up for the 4400 race was a very different feeling. We looked around at a lot of very fast drivers. I felt like a very small fish in a big pond. I had to put those feeling aside though it was time to go racing. I quickly got past a few cars and was on track to push for a top five finish. I saw Derek West coming up to pass me and I knew he was very fast so I pulled over and let him by. I was able to stick with him though and passed him on the short course. We battled for a little over a lap, however in all my excitement of racing with the big boys I managed to have two tire failures. I drove into a big rock and a big tree and since I was still on my DOT tires they could not withstand the impact. My crew got me back out on the track quick and we started passing people again. We fought our way back up into the top 20. With a few laps to go everything with the car was great. I was not so good. I was starting to lose feeling in my arms from working the wheel so much and bouncing around. My co-driver was able to keep me going fast. We didn’t let up and passed a car on the final lap to get 11th place in 4400. The car could have done more laps, however I don’t know I could have. Trent Fab definitely makes a car that will last far longer than you are able too. It was an amazing feeling. We were the first non qualified driver so I earned a KOH spot.

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It was an amazing experience to race with the big boys, but the coolest thing I experienced was the day after the race. While helping clean the course we came across a boy, named Levi, and his dad wheeling. They were really excited to hang out and talk and Levi asked if I could sign his shirt when they got back to the campground. I of course agreed. They stopped by our camp as we were packing up and I signed his shirt. We talked for a little bit and he reminded me of when I was little and was talking to my heros Dustin Webster and Dean Bullock. They really helped me get a love for off-roading and I wanted to do something more for Levi. I pulled my trophy out, and asked him to take care of it for me. His face made my weekend. It was really great to give something to the fans that make this sport amazing. Without these races I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends and some people that are as close to me as my family. Family is what makes Ultra4 the best racing series out there.

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I have to thank all the amazing sponsors who helped me get here. Griffin Thermal Products, Spidertrax Off-Road, Axial Racing, Yukon Gear & Axle, Fox Racing Shox, Nitto Tire, Wilwood Disc Brakes, KMC Wheels, WARN, Team 208 Motorsports, ATO Performance Transmissions, Douglas Machine Engines, and Factor 55. I also have to thank my dad for letting me be a racecar driver, my family, and girlfriend supporting me. None of this would be possible without all of your support.
#winning #bestsupport #teamwarn #propertuning #teamyukon #reliable #becauseracecar
Source: https://www.facebook.com/baileycoleracing/posts/838820182938610

Follow Bailey Cole: https://www.facebook.com/baileycoleracing/

Desert Turtle Racing Ultra4 Glen Helen 2016 Race Recap

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Since KOH we have been enjoying our rig, the Turtle, by going out wheeling a few times and also determining what we needed to do to get ready for our next race. As we worked on the Turtle we realized that we needed to spend some time better tuning our Rock Krawler shocks, in order to improve the overall ride and handling of the vehicle. We took the Turtle out for a few test runs and got the shocks dialed in pretty well. Being a couple of rookies, we know we are not going to get it perfect but we sure feel like we got it close, and none the less we are learning a lot about tuning. Race weekend came and we were as dialed as we were going to be, so we loaded up the Turtle and all our gear and headed for the Ultra4 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway. Friday morning consisted of several things — registration, drivers meeting, practice (2 sessions), qualifying, and then another drivers meeting. Saturday was filled with prelims, the main event, and then an after party.

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GH2016-20160610_142117Friday morning, we got all checked in at registration, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed over to the drivers meeting. At the meeting they covered the course layout for the weekend, some things to watch out for on course, and the break down of practice groups. After the meeting Darin and I agreed that we would share the driving this weekend and alternate each session. He would drive Practice 1 and Qualifying, and I would drive Practice 2 and Prelims. We suited up and headed out for Practice 1. Basically this was to get a hang of the track and feel out how the car was going to handle. We picked up our speed a bit and were getting down in the 5:15’s by the end of practice. We headed back to the pits after the session and made a couple small changes and then got back in the Turtle for Practice 2. This was my turn to drive and the objective was the same — Get the hang of the track and feel the car work. We were both able to get our lap times down in the 5:15’s but we noticed that our temps were getting a little too high. We took the Turtle back to the pits to discuss a game plan to try to get the temps down. We gave the car a once over and swapped out the coolant for 100% water to help keep the temps down, and adjusted our sway bar setting to try and get the car tighter in the turns. Again we suited up, and headed out to run our qualifying laps. The Turtle ran great during the session, the temps were a bit cooler, but not the best. We were able to pull off a time to get us a 9th position start in the Prelims out of 17 other rigs. For only being our second race, and first Grand Prix, we felt great with our results.

GH2016-20160610_210126 GH2016-20160610_193508 GH2016-IMG_9888 GH2016-IMG_9904 GH2016-IMG_9916 GH2016-IMG_9913 Saturday, RACE DAY was upon us, and we had to get lined up early to run our Prelims at 8:45 AM. No time to change anything on our car but we were able to finalize our plan to try and get the temps down. We got lined up in our starting order, 9th back from the leader. We went into the race with the game plan of keeping the car safe and not over-pushing anything. We were OK starting 9th in the main and just wanted to get through the race. The green flag dropped and we were on the move. We were able to pass a couple of rigs and things were going great. We came over a hill leading into a flat section with a couple chicanes. We set the Turtle into a nice left handed drift to hug the inside course marker (giant Caterpillar tire) and then out of nowhere we hit a rut and hooked up. The Turtle was sent head-on for the tire. I tried to counter steer to the right to avoid the tire but it was to late. BOOM — We hit the tire like it was a wall, it sent us up in the air on the two right side wheels. So in a corrective attempt I cranked the wheels to the right and gassed it, hoping that we would be able to drive out of it, but to no avail. Over we went, rolling on the passenger side and coming to a haul back on the drive side. We had successfully rolled the Turtle for the first time. Darin and I checked in with each other to make sure we were good. The track officials rushed over to make sure we were OK and let us know they were going to flip us up-right. They got to work and we were back on our wheels quickly. We fired up the car and began to drive slowly to see if we could feel anything wrong. While I was sitting there on our side all I could think is “There goes our starting position”. I was feeling a little bummed but knew I had to get back in the groove of the race and finish it. We had time for a couple more laps in the Prelims so I started to pick up pace again. We brought the Turtle to the finish safely and then had to wait for the race results to be posted. To our surprise we stayed in 9th place, meaning we didn’t gain or lose any spots. It would have been nice to improve our starting position but we were happy to take the 9th spot.

GH2016-IMG_9932 GH2016-IMG_9927 GH2016-IMG_9925 GH2016-IMG_9912 GH2016-IMG_0114 GH2016-IMG_0094 GH2016-IMG_9969 GH2016-IMG_9979 Now that the Prelims were out of the way it was time to do some work on the rig to try and get the temps under control. Aaron from Fleet Works Services came up with a couple good ideas, top secret stuff. He went to work getting the car prepped for our main event. He was a great addition to the team as he has quite a bit of knowledge prepping race cars and working with teams at the races.

It was getting close to time to get ready for the main and Darin overheard on the PA that our class was getting lined up for the main. We were shocked as that was 30 minutes earlier than the original start time. We went into a mad scramble to get suited up and in the car. We sent one of our team members over to the track official to let them know we were on our way and his response was “We are all lined up, you can start from the back of the field.”  Oh boy — That meant we had to start 19th instead of 9th. We made it over just in time as they started rolling the field out… and yes, we were in last place with a lot of cars in front of us. Instead of getting discouraged with the officials or about being in last place,  we decided to take this opportunity to work on our passing skills and make the best of the situation. There were 6 rigs in front of us in the stock class and we knew we had to get past them ASAP to be able to run down the other rigs in our class. Our first pass came exiting turn one just after the green flag, and then our second and third shortly after that. We continued to work the field, making a couple more passes on lap one. By the time we finished our first lap we had gained 6 positions. Now we knew that if we were going to catch anymore we were going to have to push the Turtle as best we could. We were hoping that Aaron’s magical prep was going to keep the temps down and let us do the work we needed to. On the second lap we made another pass and then on the third we caught up to the lead pack of 4600 class rigs battling for position. Unfortunately for them, on the third lap one stalled on a hill and then two more got in a wreck just in front of us. That moved us into 10th during the third lap. On the 4th lap we caught up to another rig and were able race him down the front stretch of the short course and stuff inside to make the pass at the end of the section. By that point the leaders had us in their sights and were reeling us in. We knew that their cars were much better than ours and we were planning to just let them by. After the start line on lap 5 the leader was on our tail and he was letting us know with a few solid bumps on the triple up-hill singles, and then we let them pass to avoid getting taken out. Towards the exit of the short course section there was a rig rolled over, meaning for us another pass. Somewhere along the line we gained a few more positions simply by other rigs being in the hot pits or breaking out. Our temps were looking good and we just kept driving our race as though we were not in contention with anyone. We wanted to make it to the finish line and that is exactly what we did. We were able to bring the Turtle home to a finish on lap 10 in a VERY respectable 6th place… after starting 19th.

GH2016-JHooperHand-off 2 GH2016-IMG_9996 2 GH2016-IMG_9983 GH2016-IMG_9982 GH2016-IMG_9981 GH2016-IMG_9987 GH2016-IMG_9953 GH2016-IMG_9943 GH2016-IMG_9899 GH2016-IMG_0130 GH2016-IMG_0105 GH2016-IMG_0102 GH2016-IMG_0077 GH2016-checkerflag GH2016-20160610_182013 Oh yeah… a little exciting moment was that our in-car fire extinguisher got knocked loose and was bouncing around between the seats. We opted to swing by the hot pits and hand it off to one of our crew. No one needs projectiles in the race car. We would like to thank all of our sponsors for helping us get the Turtle to where it is today. ‪ProComp Tires, Rock Krawler Suspension, Axial Racing, Poison Spyder Customs, ‬ ‪Raceline Wheels‬, DJ Safety, Fuel Safe, Rugged Radios,‬ Magnaflow Exhaust, J. E. Reel Drivelines, CTM Racing, Rugged Routes,‬ Lasernut,‬ Currie Enterprises, sPOD, Artec Industries, PRP Seats, Luxwurx, A1 Higher Graphics

Desert Turtle Racing KOH EMC 2016 Race Recap

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Sure this is going to be a long read, but there is now way to put this into just a few words. I could go on and on about each and every event that took place that day. The bottom line is we are one of the few first timers that actually finished the race on their first attempt.
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I encourage you to stick with it and read it all the way through. We are the Every Man, we have day jobs, and we converted a TJ into an EMC race contender.

Thursday morning came quick and I did not get very much sleep the night before. My brain was still processing preparation lists, my nerves were creeping up and I did not want to over sleep for fear of missing our line-up spot. But none the less 5:30 a.m. came and I had to get up and get the day started. I brewed some java and started sorting out my race suit stuff. Darin was up as well, getting all his stuff together, and we heard a knock at the door of the RV. To my surprise it was my best friend, Johnny, standing at the door. He took some time out of his very busy morning getting Savvy Offroad ready to stop by and give us some much-needed words of encouragement. I was shocked by his visit and it really set our day off on the right foot. We finished getting suited up and loaded up the last of our stuff in the Turtle, then headed for our line-up spot, Number 32, which was in front of 212 Performance Gloves.
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In the line-up we had several people swing by to give us some encouraging words. It was a bit surprising to see so many people wishing us luck the morning of the race.

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The time came for the line to start moving and I knew things were about to get REAL. Everything we planned for was going to be tested in the next few minutes. And the Axial SCX10 was strapped on the back for the ride of its life. We got to the start line and it was us against Lindsay Gilstrap from Texas. I knew she had a car with more power so I suggested we just let her go when the flag drops. Aaron from the Poison Spyder Pit Crew gave us a great countdown  through our Rugged Radio intercom system, and on his mark with the green flag waving at 8:07 a.m., we punched it… and then quickly let off the gas for turn 1, the sharp left-hander that can quickly roll your rig and take you out of the race.
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I figured Lindsay would have left us in the dust, but she was still right there so we got back on the gas and the drag race ensued until the jump at the end of the short course section. We both hit the brakes and rolled through the jump and then she started to check out.
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At that point we were eating her dust and decided to back off a bit so we could get some clean air and see where we needed to go. The first hill climb (part of Short Bus) had become a dust covered canyon from all the previous racers, making it very difficult to see where we needed to be to avoid the rocks. We picked our way through and were headed down the backside in no time.  Finally passing RM01 we were picking up our speed to hit the first small sand hill of the day. As we approached the base of the sand hill doing about 50 — BAHBOOM!!! We hit this pot-hole in the dirt that came out of nowhere. We hit it so hard, it felt like we just drove up a curb in a SmartCar. We continued to drive up the hill without issue and got to the top. I decided to check with Darin and see if he felt a flat. At first he said “It feels good”, but as we approached the southern end of Melville Dry Lake, RM02, he said “It’s flat man, it’s flat.” I said “No big deal, let’s pull off the course and get it changed.” Truth be known, we only tested our scissor jack on the rear of the vehicle and it worked great. As we lifted the front of the car it would only go so far before the impact ran out of torque and would not lift anymore (maybe it’s the jack and not the impact). Anyways we busted out the ratchet and continued cracking. Of course we discovered that we did not have the ½-inch drive ratchet with us and had to use a 3/8-inch drive with an adapter (CREW CHIEF!!!!). But we were able to get it done and get back in the car and get going again. It was frustrating for both of us to get a flat so early but it was actually a good thing — it brought us down a notch and allowed us to get back in our britches, get our wits back and thinking straight. We were on our way and headed for RM03 and by this point the race had been going for about 20 minutes and we were only at RM03. I got on the radio to let Main Pits (Poison Spyder Pits) know that we had a flat and will need to replace the spare when we get back. At the north end of Melville Dry Lake we reached RM04. Just after that is the military base gate — on the base the course runs for about 6 or 7 miles before exiting again. Just after RM14 we reached Remote Pit 1. Knowing that we did not send a spare tire with the crew to Remote Pit 1 and our car seemed to be doing well, I radioed in to let them know we would see them on the flip side. We continued on, picking off mile after mile. Along the way a Legends car or two would pass us but we also saw more and more busted cars off to the side of the course.

Clip1To us it was a little sign of encouragement to keep going and be thankful we were still in the race. The course along the way would vary, from some whoop sections to some goat trails, to some sand washes, and then to some high-speed smooth routes. The mix of terrain was relentless and would change at a moment’s notice. Darin was on his game reading the terrain and checking-up when needed to avoid damage and/or additional flats. Reaching RM31 we checked in on the radio to let the crew know we were at the half way mark and headed for Remote Pit 1 for the second pass. There were some tricky turns on the way and attention had to be paid to the GPS so we wouldn’t miss the marks and stay on track. I think it was at RM32 where we finally got our first Check Point sticker. For us, that was a major mile marker and reassurance that we were still in it. We made our way through the rest of the RM’s periodically calling in to Remote Pit 1 that we were getting close. We finally heard from them about RM46 and we let them know that we were hearing some clanking noises that we wanted them to check on. When we pulled into the pits, a little after RM47, Craig W. stepped up to the window and said he had our spare tires there for us and asked if we wanted it. I was shocked! I am not sure how they pulled it off but I was sure glad to have him and the Poison Spyder Pit Crew supporting us. I was not expecting to have a spare tire there. But my response was quick, “Heck yes I want the spare one! You guys rock!” They continued to check the rest of the rig and give us a splash of gas.

Clip5They found some shock bolts loose and cranked them down tight then sent us on our way. Clicking off the next several miles, it was smooth sailing. The noise that we heard was gone and the car was feeling strong.
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As we approached the next checkpoint I knew we were going to have to make a game-changing decision soon. There is a split in the race course and you have to make a choice to take Alternate 1 or stay on the course, which leads to a rock section covered in sand, making it a very difficult route. Beyond that is Alternate 2 which is even more challenging as it is a steep sand hill with rocks strewn about. Darin and I talked for a bit about our options but without haste and with pure confidence he chose the sand hill (Alternate 2).

Clip6We had avoided this route during our pre-run because we did not have anyone with us to help out if we got stuck. I’m sure Larry McRae’s pep talk in the Poison Spyder trailer the night before helped make this decision, and we were counting on him being there to help us navigate the line. I called out on the radio to see if Larry was at the sand hill and he replied “It’s all clear, come on up.” Passing RM57 and then passing the race course, I knew there was no turning back and we were going to tackle this hill head on. Larry chimed in on the radio giving us the approach line and the “go for launch”. Darin hit the hill like he had done it before and I could hear Larry on the radio calling the driving line for us “Driver, Driver, easy throttle, passenger, driver, driver, passenger, passenger… You made it!!! Nice work boys.” … or at least it sounded something like that. We were caught up in the moment and we just crushed that hill, hitting it blind and in race mode. It was a bit sketchy but really not all that bad, if you avoid the big rocks. Moving on, the next task at hand was navigating some more tight twisty turns in the sand and rocks, and heading towards Main Pits, a little after RM60. There’s not a whole lot of room for speed between the sand hill and main pits but we punched it when we could, trying to make up some of the time we lost with the flat and extended stop at Remote Pit 1.

We reached Main Pits. Darin had finished the first lap and kept the car together. It wasn’t an easy task but he kept his cool and composure and got us through the first lap. Main Pits is where Poison Spyder stepped up the most for us.
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20160204_110237They went to work looking over the car and making sure it was ready for the second lap — the rock sections. Darin and I climbed out of the car to trade seats, as this was the plan after we looked at the course map. We had learned each other’s strong points and both agreed he would do best in the desert and I would do best in the rocks. We took a moment while we were out of the car to take a breath, grab a drink and a snack before getting back in the car.

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There had to be at least 8 guys combined from the Poison Spyder crew and the Desert Turtle Racing crew working on the rig, making adjustments and some slight changes to the car for us to hit the rocks. We climbed back in the car and got strapped in with our DJ Safety Harnesses.
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I was a bit nervous at this point, thinking to myself “I’ve got a lot of work in front of me”, but I was focused and knew that we on a pace to cover some ground and get through the rocks with our Raceline wheels and ProComp Extreme MT2 tires. So with all pit hands cleared we took off for lap 2 heading across the Start/Finish line and making our way to the hill at the end of Short Bus.
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Climbing over the hill we were cruising along. Click! There went mile one, and here comes the pot hole that Darin clipped on Lap 1. So I let off the gas in an attempt to save the tire, which I did, but that lead to not enough momentum to get up this lame worn out sand hill. The Turtle gave it all it could in 4-Hi and petered out just shy of the crest of the hill. It was a no go and we had to roll backwards down the hill. We gave it another attempt with no luck and then decided to give it a go in 4-Lo. Success!! We made the hill but I was pretty well frustrated at this point. I had done this hill in my JK a number of times and never had a problem. Knowing it was just circumstance and with a few calm words from Darin I got my composure back and we were headed around the desert to Remote Pit 2A, located just after RM70. The car was doing well and we opted to pass right by. Heading up the hill after Remote Pit 2A the rig bounced on the trail a little from left to right and back left again and of course it hit another rock. It didn’t feel like we were losing air but it was in the back of my mind that the front left might be going down. We drove into the canyon and into our first rock trail, Boulder Dash. It’s not a really hard trail but it does have a couple small challenges. I felt this was a perfect trail for me to get in a rhythm of reading the terrain and navigating the rocks. We made quick work of the trail and passed a couple rigs on our way over to run down Upper Big Johnson. This trail has a couple of nasty spots if you’re not careful, but it also has a couple of bypass lines if you can spot them. We were careful coming down the trail as to not beat up the front end too much. We were also able to take a bypass line and make up another position. At the bottom of the trail we hit RM72 and headed for the next trail, Claw Hammer. On the way into Claw I hit a few more rocks a little harder than I liked and was again concerned about the front left losing air. We made it to the water fall and climbed right up. Then at the V-notch there was a rig stuck in the line and we had to negotiate an awkward line up the side of the canyon wall to make a hard passenger pivot turn. It took a couple of tries to get up the V-notch, even with the help of the guys that were part of the stuck car. During the process one of the guys shouted to me “You’ve got a left front flat.” Great!!!! Just what we didn’t need — another flat. I opted to pull to the side of the canyon out of the course line and change the flat to avoid any further damage. With our first flat experience we knew exactly what we needed to do and so we got to work. We made quick work of this change and were back on our way climbing out of Claw Hammer. At RM73 Darin radioed in that we had experienced another flat but were still moving and were headed into Wrecking Ball.
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Picking our lines in Wrecking Ball we knew we had to negotiate the waterfall or the bypass line. We had ran the bypass line during our pre-run and were confident we could pull it off again. As we approached we noticed a rig stuck in the waterfall line and that meant we were forced to take the bypass. We got into the bypass line and had to make a quick stop because I overshot the downhill turn. The sketchy part of the bypass is when you stop, at that point the rig slides sideways about three feet which puts you very close to the cliff. We were able to get a good backup and point the Turtle down the hill for a successful pass at the bypass line. Shortly after making it down the bypass we passed another rig that was broken, and then down the trail just a bit further we passed another rig, and another.
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I was feeling relieved that we were making good time down this trail and others appeared to be having difficulties. We approached the bottom of the trail and realized that we had, yet again, another flat on the front right. We finished running the trail and pulled over right near the cross-over at RM74. We were bummed, we had already used our spare in Claw Hammer and now we had another flat. We talked about driving on the flat but I pointed out that we had 5 more really tough rock trails to go through before we would get to Remote Pit 2B, not counting the mileage that was ahead of us between the rock trails. We continued to weigh our options and I suggested to Darin that we could possibly plug the tire with the tire kit we were carrying. Darin looked out the window and said “Hahahaha — No we’re not, there is a 4-inch gash in the sidewall.” So we checked the tire on the carrier and it had a smaller 1-inch hole. I grabbed the plug kit to start plugging the tire, and Darin grabbed the tools to start lifting the car to change the tire. Thankfully, we outfitted our ARB Compressor with an NPT fitting and packed our air hose. We were able to plug the tire with seven plugs and get 20lbs of air in the tire and the tire held the air. We pulled it off the rig and swapped out our third flat. This seemed to take forever but we were back in the game. Darin said “We are in this race until we aren’t!” That was probably the best thing he could have said at that time. I noticed a few of the rigs that we passed in Wrecking Ball had caught up to pass us, so I knew we were losing ground again.
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We got back in the car and Darin called it in, “We plugged the flat and are on the move towards Chocolate Thunder. We are going to need a spare at Remote Pit 2B.” At this point I knew I really had to change my wheeling game and preserve the last chance tire we had left — We could not afford to get another flat. We got over to Chocolate Thunder and started picking our way through. There was a 4600 car in front of us, up at the cross section, having trouble. We watched and waited for him to get through and then made our way up the stair steps.
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We cruised up the steps and while doing so I noticed the 4600 car take a different line that looked way easier than the line I am used to taking. So I half opted for that line and wound up getting the Turtle turtled on some rocks. It was time for Darin to get out and pull some winch line so we could get moving again. This is like the worst place to get stuck because there are a ton of spectators there to give you a hard time about your poor line choice. Darin made quick work of the winch line setup and we were un-stuck and on our way again, climbing the rest of the way out of Chocolate Thunder. Moving on to the next trail, passing RM76, we hit Jack North. At the entrance of the rock canyon for Jack North we caught up to the 4600 that was having problems on Chocolate Thunder. He was struggling pretty badly in a spot and ended up having to winch his way out of it. By this point there were a few rigs piled up behind us so the 4600 car let everyone pass him by. We made our way up to the top of the trail and there was a rig stuck in the main race line, so everyone else had to go around on a bypass line. I looked at the line and told Darin, “That’s not an easy bypass.”  There was a line of about 4-5 rigs ahead of us and we watched a couple make it through the bypass line. Then one guy just about flopped his rig over. Now the main line was blocked and the bypass line was blocked and there was still a car ahead of us that had to get through. Not knowing what they were going to do about the rig that was almost flopped, Darin jumped out of the Turtle and started talking with another co-driver about alternate lines. Darin pointed out a line through the middle of the rocks that he thought might work as an alternate. I don’t think any of us had much faith in the line but Darin called up the next rig and spotted them through. They got through it with a little bit of work and some really good spotting from Darin. Next he called me up. I was wide eyed as I could not believe that the rig before me made it. These rocks seemed as big as the rig and once on top you could not see anything around you because it was all underneath the car. Darin again did a great job spotting and got me through the spot. As I exited this alternate line I could feel the Turtle was getting light and tipsy, but we were able to make an adjustment and pull on through. Thankfully another trail down and no tire issue. We took off and headed over to run down Jack Hammer.
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20160204_145229We made great time coming down Jack Hammer until we got to the second waterfall section and I again got Turtled up due to a lack of forward momentum. Darin quickly jumped out and pulled the winch line. We were unstuck and on our way again in no time.
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After Jack Hammer there was a check point at about RM78 and then right after that was a big sand hill. We attempted to power up this sand hill and almost got it, but the Turtle petered out just before the crest. We had to back down the hill, but this time I knew there was an alternate, so instead of trying the hill again, we opted to go around and keep on the move. We made our way around the mountain and were headed for Sunbonnet Pass. Still, I was keeping in mind that we needed to preserve the tire and could not afford another flat. We spotted a few key lines on Sunbonnet and were able to capitalize on a couple of passes in the rock trails. Quickly another trail was completed, now the only thing left in our way of reaching Remote Pit 2B was Hwy 19/20. This trail just after RM85 has a few tricky spots that can really cause some problems. We remembered some of the bypass lines here and took advantage of them. We even passed another rig that was struggling right were the bypass came back into the trail. We nailed this trail and even took a line that Johnny Rocha told us about, saving us more time. We were on our way out of Hwy 19/20 and were excited to crest the hill and see Remote Pit 2B. It was like a breath of fresh air for me. I was feeling stressed but the sight of the pits gave me focus and reenergized me for more racing. We got to the pits and the guys went to work on the car again.
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Poison Spyder Pit Crew and Desert Turtle Racing Pit Crew were working together to give the car a good look over and make sure we were going to make the rest of the race. I grabbed a couple more snack bites from Kimmie and we were on our way. I asked Justin Z. how much time we had left and he said we still had about an hour and a half. Knowing that we had Aftershock Trail ahead of us, we would have to nail the bypass on that trail to keep in good time and be able to finish the race. I felt like we really still had a chance to finish. We just needed to keep the car together. We peeled out from the pits and were off and running.
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We headed down into Aftershock just after RM88. We picked our way through the rocks and caught up to a rig that was struggling in the rock garden, and that was when we noticed the bypass line. We broke right and skated on by, passing another rig. We got to the bottom of the trail and came across another rig that was broken and passed by him as well. We were on the move and clicking off the miles between Aftershock and Emerson Dry Lake. As we came down the hill approaching Emerson Dry Lake, around RM92, we prepared for our final high-speed run across the lakebed. We were all alone out there and completely dust free. The conditions were perfect so I smashed the skinny pedal and let the motor sing. We were up to 80mph and still climbing. We knew our motor did not have much more and we were running out of space on the lakebed. But knowing there was a bit of a run-out at the end, I stayed in it getting up to a final top speed of 88mph and then let off. We cruised through the next several miles of the flowy desert trail leading up to RM99. Safely making our way there, it was time to cross a totally whooped out section on the course. At around RM100 to RM103, this is where I could lose my lunch and the Turtle if I wasn’t careful. The sun was staring to come down and as we made a slight left around RM105 it put the sun right in our eyes. Through the next couple of miles of whoops, I had to drive with one hand on the wheel and one blocking the sun. It was unsafe to get any sort of speed built up with only one hand on the wheel, so we just cruised keeping the Turtle safe and intact. We made the left a little after RM106 and were headed back on to a portion of course that we ran in Lap 1. It was nice to be back on some familiar trails. At RM55, we reached the final checkpoint and they informed us that we had only 45 minutes to get back to the finish line. Darin said, “There is no way we are timing out after coming this far. Hammer down buddy – Let’s do this.” I was unsure of the distance that we had left and how long it would actually take. But I recalled that the final section had a lot of sand and rocks strewn about, and we would have to tackle the nasty sand hill after RM57 from Lap 1. Picking our way through the sand and rocks, we kept moving along — Sometimes, at what seemed to be a very slow pace, but we were still moving. We came to the sand hill that Larry coached us up before and Darin called out to see if Larry was still there. Nothing but radio silence, so it was up to us to conquer the hill. We hit it hard and screamed up the hill, but at the top the Turtle started to peter-out and was barely creeping along. I worked the rig with a little sand crawl, turning the tires left and right, and we were able to make it up and continue on. Picking through the rest of the rocks and sand we made it out and were headed across the last desert section towards the finish line. I can remember driving along and thinking to myself, just keep it together we are going to make it. We made it to a point where we could see Hammertown and the Start/Finish line – We were just moments away from completing our goal. We were at the bottom of the last hill climb and on the other side was the Finish line. Up and over we go, zooming down the hill to take the checker flag at the Finish line at RM114.
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I was beyond excited and was feeling mentally drained at the moment from driving the rock trails. I was stunned and could not believe that we had just finished the 114 mile course of the 2016 Smittybilt Every Man Challenge on our first attempt! Darin and I were absolutely amazed at the accomplishment. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and find out if the Axial SCX10 had made it through the journey with us. Yup, it was there! — All covered in dust, but it made it with us. The first ever Axial SCX10 to run the hammers and cross the finish line.
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ULTRA4 Racing tackles the FALLON 250

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ULTRA4 @ VORRA Fallon 250

Words and photos: Michael Plunkett
August 29 – 30th, 2015
Fallon, Nevada

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When it comes to ULTRA4 racing, anyone that has been around rock racing understands how versatile these machines are. They are designed to reach up to 130mph across the desert, yet capable of crawling rock sections the size of school buses. In order to be able to withstand the punishment in the rocks and cross the desert at speeds of over 100mph, they must be engineered and designed with the toughest components on the market. ULTRA4 Racing got its start in 2008 at an event that is now known worldwide as King of the Hammers, or KOH for short. They since have started a west and east coast series of races and have ventured internationally to the likes of France, Italy, the UK, and even Portugal. In order to keep up with this rapidly growing sport of rock racing, ULTRA4 is constantly looking for fan friendly venues.
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They have rapidly caught the eye of the desert racers by entering races such as Best in the Deserts Series – Vegas to Reno race, The Parker 425, and The Bluewater Challenge. On the other side of the desert racing spectrum, Currie Enterprises’ Casey Currie managed to take his rock racing ULTRA4 4400 buggy down to the BAJA 500 and finished that brutal race within the Trophy Truck class this year!

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So when it came to choosing another course to round out the western series this year, choosing to venture together with the VORRA Series at the Fallon 250 seemed to be a legitimate match for Dave Cole’s ULTRA4 Series. Teams were excited with the thought of a desert race for the simple reason of getting more of an opportunity to stretch their legs a little and see if they can manage to conquer a desert style race course.

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Teams started arriving Thursday afternoon in order to get out to see and pre-run the course. Some chose to show up Friday and venture out in the early afternoon and into the night to get used to running in the dark. To best fit the two series together, JT Taylor and VORRA president, Wes Harbor, went right to work sorting the classes and when each class would start.
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During the drivers meeting Friday evening, the drivers from each series would get the chance to meet each other as well as see the order of which they were to start. It was also stated in the drivers meeting that this would be their largest race to date! Wes explained the various different rules of conduct to the ULTRA4 drivers so there would be no confusion on race day. As it was to turn out our lower classes sort of speak from the ULTRA4 4500, 4600, 4700, 4800 and UTV’s would run during the day starting at 6am with the variety of classes from the VORRA series varying from UTV to class 1 with a cutoff time of 1:30pm. That reserved the night racing to the ULTRA4 4400 class only!

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It was a beautiful Friday night in the desert with very little breeze whatsoever which only meant one thing for the drivers that had to leave the line early the next day…DUST was going to be miserable!! True to that thought as the early classes left the line and off into the desert, I was already struggling to get clear photos even at the lineup. Without a ride to get around in, I was fortunate when I ran into Phil Kaos, another desert race photographer, and he offered to let me ride with him. We finish up at the start line and quickly headed out to check point one to see what we could find. Never having shot or seen this course before I was now at the mercy of Phil. He got us to pit one and we ventured off trying to see through all the dust, let alone get a picture of anything…Yes, it was dusty!! We stayed there to see the leaders come back through on the second lap and cover the racers we needed, then loaded up to head to Pit 2. Immediately after getting on our way, Phil’s truck started missing and running really rough…fortunately Phil being handy as he is, went right to work figuring out how to get us moving again.

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After a short while on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere we were on the move again.

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We arrived at Pit 2 not really knowing their lap times well enough to figure out what lap everyone was on by now? So we hung out quite a while there until we were satisfied with what we got for pictures and figured we better get moving back to the finish line. We arrived early enough to venture out into the wash to get some shots of the racers going out for which appeared to be their last laps. Getting myself out in there to get some photos meant I would end up missing some of the faster teams crossing the finish line on the final lap. I chose to get more shots out in the wash and gather up results later, which the top three in their classes went like this…4500 Class winner was 4531 Shawn Rants, 2nd Place went to 4596 Jason Wilkins, and 3rd Place 4540 Michael Bedwell. In the 4600 Class 1st Place went to 4608 Matthew Peterson, 2nd Place 4696 Sean McNamara, and 3rd place with only completing 5 out of the 6 laps went to Ben Varozza. In the 4700 Class 1st Place went to 4714 Luke Johnson, followed by his father for 2nd Place 4748 Ricky Johnson, and rounding off the podium for 3rd Place was 4702 Larry Nickell. In the 4800 Class 1st Place went to 4861 Anthony Arreola, 2nd Place went to 444 Rick Waterbury, and 3rd Place 4824 Sean Leonardini. In the Pro UTV Class 1st Place went to the father son driver – co-driver combo of 83 Raul and Darian Gomez. 2nd Place finishing only 5 laps was 1920 John Duckworth, and 3rd Place finishing 4 of the 6 laps was 1958 Andrew Goman. The UTV Sportsman Class’ 1st Place went to 125 Phil Blurton, 2nd Place 1927 Ben Wilson, and 3rd Place 18 1961 Bill Hermant. As I was hiking back up to the start line to see the stragglers come in and and get ready to see the Big Boys in the 4400 Class get lined up, I got to witness one of the interesting things from my weekend! I was looking at the Falken race driver Bailey Cole coming across the desert hooked up behind the UTV of Goodall Racing pushing him the last 10 miles through the desert to the finish! Very cool to watch to say the least…great job everyone! Now for the Main event…
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Thank goodness the wind had started to pick up for the main even, maybe the dust wasn’t going to be too bad!

After getting a shot of the lineup and making my rounds wishing everyone good luck, Phil and I chose to shoot the start from in the wash and then cover this race in the same manner as we just did the first race. We shot the wash until everyone was off the line and quickly loaded up and headed to Pit 1. As we arrived at Pit 1, I was able to jump out and catch the rear end of Loren Healy going by on his 2nd lap!…We just made it in time! We shot that area for what we could tell was a whole other lap and a half before we decided to head out for Pit 2.

We made it to Pit 2 without any issues this time, but now it was time to figure out where the leaders were and what lap they were on? After a full cycle of vehicles went by we figured we must have missed Loren go by before we arrived and now Wayland had come by again with still no sign of Loren? We could make out that it was Wayland out front with Paul Horschel following close behind. It wasn’t long before we saw Loren come by like a man-on-a-mission, but with all the drivers starting every 30 seconds off the line, we could make out a few possible drivers on the move! We could tell Tom Wayes who started 22nd off the line had moved up closer to the front runners as well as Brian Capprara and Randy Slawson were charging hard as well! But since it is a timed race we couldn’t be sure exactly where everyone stood in the ranks. We decided to go ahead and wait for Brian Capprara to come back through before we left for the finish line. In doing so we noticed Wayland had not come through as normal when all the sudden Loren was coming by just as the sun was setting. We hadn’t seen Tom Wayes come through for quite some time before we got word that he had hit a large rock and and went end over end to finish his day short. We also had noticed Levi Shirley hadn’t come by for a long time and wasn’t sure what had happened to him, until we later found out at the finish line that he had mechanical issues and was still out there working on it. He was finally able to get going again and get in a couple more laps before the cutoff time to better himself in the points standing. What seemed to be about 5 minutes had passed since Loren went by, we saw Paul Horschel come through with still no sight of Wayland. We finally did see Wayland come through several minutes behind Paul and now were waiting on Brian to come through before we headed out for the finish. When we saw Brian come through a few minutes later and as we were loading up, we saw Randy Slawson come through. Now we were off to the finish line to see how things were going to pan out!

After getting to the finish line we had the results that Loren Healy had taken the win with 30 some odd seconds over Paul Horschel and Wayland Campbell had rounded off the podium coming in several minutes behind Paul. With this win for Loren it secured him the West Coast Championship for the second year in a row. Congrats to Loren and his team on another incredible year! On a interesting side note, Randy Slawson with his ULTRA4 rock racing Bomber Fab chassis set the fastest time of any of the straight axles rigs.

We were also getting word that Wayland’s dad, Shannon Campbell, was down in the desert with drivetrain issues and was calling on his daughter Bailey Campbell, which was racing steady all day to help him get to the finish. Bailey reached her father and was able to pull Shannon the last 20 miles through the desert to both finish the race and better themselves in the point standings. All in all it was one heck of a race that went well into the night with a cutoff time of 12:00am. Every bit of that time was used for some teams as 33 of the 49 starters in the 4400 class finished! After going around talking to a lot of the teams that night and in the morning after the race, everyone that had raced said they really enjoyed it and some even claimed it to be the most fun they’ve had in a race before! So what seemed to be a race that no one was quite sure of how it was going to go, it sounds like we found another venue for years to come, or we can only hope anyways. ULTRA4 Racing has one more race back east in Hot Springs, Arkansas for the east coast finals. Then, The National Championship will be held in my hometown of Reno, NV in October! Enjoy some of the photos from the event and I hope to see everyone again at the Nationals!

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Axial – The Official R/C vehicles of Ultra4 Racing – King of the Hammers 2015

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
(Mission Viejo, CA) January 14, 2015.

Axial R/C Inc., A subsidiary of Hobbico Inc., is proud to announce Axial as the Official R/C Vehicles of Ultra4 / King of the Hammers for 2015.

Ultra4 Racing is the latest and greatest off road motorsport event on earth. This style of racing challenges man to a duel with the elements. Unlike standard off road racing in a stadium or in the wide open desert, Ultra4 vehicles face challenges that no other motorsport demands. Competitors are not only made to cross vast areas of open desert, they also travel up boulder strewn canyons and negotiate terrain that appears impassable. To compete in such a demanding environment, competitors build custom four wheel drive vehicles that are made to crawl over the harshest terrain, then conquer the wide open desert at exhilarating triple digit speeds. This element of automotive enthusiasm is precisely what Axial R/C has set out to deliver in 1:10 scale, so the relationship between Axial R/C and Ultra4 is a very natural fit.

Axial’s roots are directly tied to motorsports, especially competitive rock crawling. As full size competitive rock crawling transcended into what is now rock racing, the sport became globally recognized in a short five years, most notably the King of the Hammers [KOH] held annually in Johnson Valley, California. Axial followed suit with its own version of vehicles that translated well within this segment of the off road community. Axial has been very offroad lifestyle driven and fits perfectly with Ultra4 and the King of the Hammers event which is the mecca of enthusiasts pushing the boundaries of rock racing. Axial will be on site at the 2015 King of the Hammers offering enthusiasts an opportunity to experience the endless fun that these rock racing and trail navigating R/Cs have to offer.

On the Saturday following KOH [Feb 7th], there will be a radio controlled version of King of the Hammers as Axial hosts the RECON Ultra4 G6 at King of the Hammers.

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Axial RECON Ultra4 G6 at King of the Hammers
When: Feb. 7 – 12:00 Noon
Where: (GPS- N34 24.927, W116 31.090) just west of Hammer Town at the base of the mountain.

R/C motorsports joins full size motorsports once again as Axial joins forces with Ultra4 / King of the Hammers. 2015 will once again see Axial bring the RECON G6 Series along for the full experience. Axial has teamed with full size motorsports in the past and is doing it again in Johnson Valley, Ca. ,on Saturday Feb. 7th, the day after the King of the Hammers main event. This is the last event on the 2015 KOH schedule starting at noon on Saturday, if you own an Axial R/C, come out and get your fix in this historic RECON Ultra4 G6. The RECON G6 series is made up of R/C endurance events featuring man and scale machine tackling the elements, a true test for your R/C vehicle with a major emphasis on a family fun atmosphere. The object is to conquer the course set forth by RECON G6 mastermind Brian Parker. For more information on this event, and to register to participate, please click here.

About Axial
Founded in 2005, Axial R/C, Inc. has quickly became a global brand leader of hobby grade radio controlled products as Axial is a company of enthusiasts for enthusiasts. We manufacture chassis and accessory products predominantly for the Rock Crawling and Overland Adventure segments, with design emphasis on rugged construction and scale realism. Axial is regularly involved in local and national events which allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of R/C culture, thus earning us awards every year from 2007 through 2010, including “Best Truck”, “Most Innovative”, “Best Engineered Product of the Year”, and “People’s Choice.” For more information on Axial and Axial products please visit www.axialracing.comtwitter.com/axialracingfacebook.com/axialincyoutube.com/axialvideos

About Ultra4
Ultra4 Racing is the official website of Hammerking Productions. The founders of Hammerking are the force behind the toughest one-day off-road race on the planet: King of The Hammers. King of the Hammers takes place each year in February, on public lands in Johnson Valley, CA. The race has evolved from 12 teams racing for bragging rights and a case of beer, to more than 150 teams competing before thousands of fans both live and online. Due to the incredible success of King of the Hammers, Hammerking has created an equally difficult off-road endurance race called The Stampede which occurs annually in Reno, NV.

In addition to these races, Hammerking has established a racing class known as the Ultra4 class. The defining characteristic of this class is that all cars must be capable of 4-wheel drive. Beyond that, the class is unlimited, which means these cars come in all shapes and sizes and are capable of speeds over 100+ MPH and still contain gear ratios as low as 100 to 1 for technical rock crawling.

To give these cars and their drivers a chance to showcase their unique capabilities, Hammerking has formed the Ultra4 Racing series. The series challenges drivers to compete in a wide variety of terrain from endurance desert racing to competition-style rock crawls to short course racing. Hammerking currently produces five of the six races in the series on their own. The races take place on both public lands and in private motorsports parks across the country including: Exit 28 Motorsports Park in Nevada, Rausch Creek in Pennsylvania and Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.

Hammerking Productions has also produced three full-length feature films chronicling the first three King of the Hammers races. These award winning movies have helped shine a spotlight on this new form of racing throughout the world. Currently, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Hammerking’s fourth production which will be coming to theaters and DVD by mid 2011.

If you would like to know more about Hammerking, Ultra4, the races produced and/or the movies created, please visit www.ultra4racing.comtwitter.com/Ultra4racingfacebook.com/Ultra4Racingyoutube.com/HeavyMetalConcepts

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Axial Driver Jake Hallenbeck – NorCal Rock Racing – 2014 Finale

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Axial Driver Jake Hallenbeck – NorCal Rock Racing – 2014 Finale

Words & photos: Michael Plunkett

With this being Nor Cal Rock Racing’s Championship race, we all knew that Jake being the defending 2013 Champion, might as well have a bull’s-eye on his back! Every team had one thing in mind, “beating Jake Hallenbeck!” As things were getting started and heat races were being randomly drawn, Jake found out he had been drawn to start in the back of the pack. Starting in the back forces Jake to work his way through slower traffic, which sometimes is a challenge in itself on a course like this.

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With the two other power house teams of concern drawing the same heat race, this would give us an idea of how the rest of the day was going to go. Jake found himself being held up by certain drivers, slowing him down considerably. By the end of the race, Jake had worked his way up to finish 2nd behind his closest competitor in the points standings. This was going to be a showdown!

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As the team was going over the car in the pits, Jake found out that they had a transmission cooler failure. Without a spare cooler, they decided to bypass the trans-cooler altogether and hope for the best.

Starting in the back of heat race 2 once again meant that Jake would have to rely on his skills to get him out in front to secure a better starting position for the main event. As the race started and Jake charged through the pack, he suffered a broken axle in the first rock pile. He maintained his pace the best he could to finish that heat in what appeared to be 4th place. Jake and his team quickly went to work pulling the axle, and in the meantime damaged the inner seal.

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Fortunately, with Trail Gear’s large fill cap on their axles, they were able to get a pry bar in there so they could get the axle changed without having to pull the entire axle apart to put the seal housing back in. As it was, they finished with minutes to spare for the start of the main event!

When the teams lined up for the main event, I could see Jon Cagliero starting in the front row. Jon was only two points behind Jake in the points race. Jake was forced to start mid-pack and have to work his way through traffic once again! With the lineup in place and the sun in their eyes, the race for the Championship was about to begin!

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From what I could see, Jake got a great hole shot and by the first and second rock pile he found himself in 3rd place. He drove the wheels off his bomber buggy and began to reel in the leaders…until his engine’s heating issue began to come back and haunt him. He was forced to pace himself for the longer main event so he could be in the hunt at the finish. He maintained his 3rd place position throughout the race until he got over taken by a car during a yellow flag.

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Out of his control at that point, Jake knew he needed to gain that position back and get closer to the front for a chance to keep his lead in the points standings. With one lap to go, Jake overtook that 3rd position again but was running out of time to catch the leaders. When the race came to an end, Gary Ferravanti Sr. crossed the line first, followed by Jon Cagliero, and Jake finishing in 3rd and collecting another podium finish!

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With the results of the race in place, it was time to figure out the point standings and who would be the 2014 Season Champion! With Jon Cagliero finishing the race in 2nd and Jake finishing in 3rd, it meant that they were tied in points for the 2014 season. With nothing in the rule book stating what to do in the case of a tie, John Goodby of Nor Cal Rock Racing decided to go with a motocross rule that states whoever crossed the finish line first between the two points leaders would be the new Champion.

Like the true Sportsman and Champion that Jake Hallenbeck is, he looked at Goodby and stated, “As long as you will assure me that this will be in the rule books in the future, I am good with that.” In the same breath, Jake asked John if he could deliver the Championship trophy to Jon Cagliero himself. Goodby agreed as long as he could be present. They together they delivered the trophy to Jon Cagliero and named him the 2014 Nor Cal Rock Racing Champion! It’s never easy in racing to except a 2nd place finish, but Jake did it with grace and style.

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As the season concludes, I look forward to seeing if Jake can pick up new sponsors in the off season so he too can upgrade his rig to what most of the powerhouse rigs are running. Jake proves to me that you can stay on the podium with driving skills alone, but to be able to win races consistently you have to equal the playing field and run Independent Front Suspension with big horsepower!

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All in all, in two years of racing the Ultra4 class, Jake has achieved a Nor Cal Championship, a tie for another Nor Cal Championship, The Ultra4 Racing series Rookie of the Year Award, and is still in contention in the 2014 Ultra4 Racing Series on driving ability alone. If given the Independent Front Suspension and the horsepower other teams are running, in my opinion, Jake Hallenbeck would be a force to be reckoned with!

Axial Driver Jake Hallenbeck Rocks Utah Ultra4 race

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Axial Driver Jake Hallenbeck Rocks Utah Ultra4 race

2014 American Rock Sports Challenge, Toole, UT

words and photos by: Mike Plunkett

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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)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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U4RC 2013-2014 Winter Series Wrap-Up

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Words: Jerry Tobin-U4RC
Photos: James C. Goad

Now that the dust has settled on the 2013-2014 U4RC Winter Series, it’s time for a final report. U4RC’s partnership with Axial Racing has again proven to be “the perfect fit”. U4RC racing is a blend of r/c rock crawler, short course style rock racing, with a twist of scale realism. Axial based rigs continued to be the dominating force in every U4RC series nationwide. This series again saw racers compete with everything from “out-of-the box” Axial RTR rigs to fully custom, purpose built, Axial based racing rigs. R/C rock racing is proving to be “the next big thing” throughout the r/c community.

The exciting r/c action was non-stop from the Season Opener in October, all the way to the Finals March 22nd 2014. The series championship battle in every U4RC class was highly contested from the sound of the buzzer in the first heat of the series, until the closing moments of the last Main at the Finals. This U4RC series again saw appearances from several high profile drivers and figures from all over the r/c industry and fullsize 1:1 racing. The list included current and past R/C Rock Crawling Champions, r/c pro-off road drivers, 1/5th scale pros, r/c world record holders and a handful of industry insiders, all getting in on the buzz, early. U4RC Racing has a class that will match and be fun for and every level of driving skill and experience that exists out there, from “newbies” through to “seasoned pros”.

1.9 Trail Class Series Champion Shad Patton took the series win with his lightly modified SCX10 Dingo. Trail class is another entry level class for 1.9 tire clad scale rigs. This class’s series championship went right down to the wire. Owners of Casey Currie J/K’s, G6 Jeep’s, Honcho’s, and all other SCX10’s typically run in this class. Axial Racing participated with some great driver giveaways of complete rigs for the 1.9 Trail class.

1.9 Trophy/Comp Class has seen a surge in Axial SCX10 based rigs during the last series. These rigs are fully custom, highly realistic and usually mimic full size 1:1 race rigs. Full metal chassis’, custom interiors, and stricter scale requirements are the backbone of the Trophy classes.

Axial Racing Team driver Jake Wright put together a flawless series to take home the Championship in 2.2 Competitor with his modified Axial Wraith. Jake also laid down the fastest lap time of any class for the entire series! 2.2 Comp class is filled with the absolutley fastest rigs on the rocks.

The closest points race out of all the classes was in 2.2 Trophy, where Chris Pickering faught his way to the class championship in his Axial based custom race car. Up until one race before the Finals there were 4-5 drivers that had a possible shot at the championship. All series long the starting bell meant total excitement instantly. Many of the rigs in this class run complete Wraith drivelines bolted directly into metal upper chassis’. The realism doesn’t get any better than in this class, with the sound of the 8+ pound rigs banging against the rocks and each other.

U4RC will be rolling out additional classes starting the next series. We have created a “2.2 Competitor Limited” class. This class came about to offer entry level 2.2 drivers a place to start in U4RC racing and race against similar, “stock” or “lightly” modified rigs, without the pressures of racing against the pros with highly modified vehicles. Axial Wraith and Dead Bolt owners will feel right at home in this class.

U4RC would like to thank all of the sponsors and partners that helped make the Winter Series such a great success. We couldn’t have done it without them. Check out each of these sponsors great products and services!….

Axial Racing, PitBull Tires, Mattzilla R/C Works, Holmes Hobbies, Mad Dog R/C, Mad Skinz R/C, Kling-on R/C, Jevne Racing, Cow R/C, Undertaker Custom Paint, RCP Crawlers…..