Awesome event! Thank you to Yamaha for having us!
Some GoPro footage from my first Arizona Offroad Promotions Desert Race yesterday (well semi-desert, more like a Desert GP). We took a completely stock Yamaha YXZ with a roll cage and harnesses, stiffened the shocks a bit and had a great time! Brian Lopez was a great co-driver and Eric Hanna with help from Kaleb took care of the pits. The track was crazy rough for a car off the showroom, but I was extremely impressed. Some tuning and suspension will make this thing amazing! A little surprise at 6:18.
The theme of the weekend was the heat in Southern California, temperatures around 110 degrees outside the car meant that it was going to be a battle just to keep hydrated, let alone race in a fire suit.
The Polaris RZR was setup great, and we had a good practice session Friday. After making a couple clutch adjustments and tightening things up, we were ready for racing Saturday.
Saturdays racing couldn’t come soon enough! We ended up still having some clutch issues in qualifying, so the car was only performing at about 80%, but we were able to qualify on the outside of the 3rd row in 6th position. After going through the checklist and making sure the RZR was ready, we were able to watch some of the great racing that Lucas Oil Offroad offers and see teammate Jeremy Merrell tear it up in the Unlimited UTV class, he battled up front all race!
After the sun set behind the mountains at Glen Helen, it was time for some racing under the lights. I was able to make some quick moves on lap 1 and 2 to get up to 3rd position and try and start pacing the leaders. Both of them had very fast cars and I wasn’t sure that we could push much more. I was able to keep pace until the mandatory competition caution at lap 6. When the green flag waved for the second half of the race, I knew it was time to drop the hammer. I made some quick moves to try and force mistakes on the leaders and was able to move into 2nd place. I was almost immediately passed right back at the end of the straight away before turn 5, at that point I knew that I would have to drive the car at 110% to keep pace with the faster cars in front of me. I kept pushing and was able to stay with the faster cars, but the RZR had other plans, and the front differential let go making me spin on the inside of corner 2, to enter back on the track safely I had to wait for all the drivers to pass. Late in the race and only having 2 wheel drive, I didn’t have enough time to move any further forward so we brought it home in 15th of 21 cars.
Just hearing the reaction from friends and fellow races letting me know how well I did and how they really saw a win in my grasp made a bad night feel much better. I can’t say that I am happy, but I know that racing is not just about winning, its also about learning, growing, and the support of others.
I know that we have to make our car faster so that it is competitive, and we don’t have to push it past its limits, then it’s all up to me and I welcome the challenge!!!
Thanks to my dad and Brian Lopez for all their hard work and dedication, all of the great racers and friends, the full Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series – SoCal team for putting on such great events, and of course our awesome sponsors, Supercuts, RideNow Powersports, UTV Wolfpack, Rockstar Energy Drink, UPR Racing Supply, GMZ Race Products Inc., M1 Off-Road, Trinity Racing, Custom Composite Mfg., element 7 graphics, Hoven Vision, Axis RodEnds
PC – Eric Minks at www.SnM-Media.com
First I would like to say Happy 1st Birthday to the newest member of the UTV Wolfpack, Mason Merrell! I can’t believe its already been a whole year that Jenny and Jason were blessed with such an awesome little kiddo!
Coming off our last race we had a bad crash that left the car mangled and my head a bit scrambled for last 6 or so weeks, but we were all determined to keep moving forward and show our teams true talent and dedication.
I have always loved Glen Helen, riding motocross, breaking my back and becoming paralyzed at this place has always made me want to get some redemption! Every time I look at the big hills it still takes me back to the day my life would change forever. The best part about it is that I can look right back and say “I’m Back!” and jump in my Polaris RZR and hit the track. So hit the track is exactly what we did.
Saturday – We had a small wiring issue in qualifying that left us starting from the back of the pack, but knew if we drove smart and fast that we could move up towards the front. I started the race in 22nd position, over the first few laps I was able to move up into about 12th position, a caution flag came out and allowed the group to stack back up and helped me get closer to the top 10 drivers. Once the green flag dropped I was able to work up to about 8th or so, and set my sites on the lead group. We were able to pass all the way up to 4th position, only a few feet away from a podium position.
Sunday – After our great finish from Saturday we were all excited to hit the track and qualify well to get Sunday off to a good start. We had a clutch adjustment issue but were still able to qualify in 3rd position with a 2 row invert putting us outside the front row for the start of the main event. When the green flag dropped for the main event I was pushed wide in turn 2 and lost a bunch of speed driving out in the mud, but was still able to keep it 3 wide into the third turn, the second place driver had a very fast car and was able to drive around, but we held on to 2nd place and would keep a fast pace with pressure from Cody Rahders in 3rd. We had a great battle with Cody, but on the competition restart he made a mistake and bumped into the back of the RZR in corner 3 and broke the car so we could not finish the race. Cody is a great sportsman admitted his mistake and apologized. Once the dust settled a bit more heartbreak as the news that the leader was not allowing the tech inspection team tear his car motor (as all the top 3 were mandated to do), so he was Disqualified. There was a very good chance that we would have taken home a victory for the team Sunday, but luck was not on our side.
All in all we had a great weekend spending time with friends, helping each other to get our RZRs going faster and we leave knowing that we can now run at the front with the best drivers in the sport. Now back to Glen Helen August 29th, but this time with a win right at our fingetips!!!
Thanks to my dad for all his hard work and dedication, all of the great racers and friends, the full Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Series – SoCal team for putting on such great events, and of course our awesome sponsors, Supercuts Supercuts of Tucson, RideNow Powersports, UTV Wolfpack, Rockstar Energy Drink US, UPR Racing Supply, GMZ Race Products Inc., M1 Off-Road, Trinity Racing, Custom Composite Mfg., element 7 graphics, Hoven Vision, Axis RodEnds
PC – SnM-Media.com