World off-road race series stops by Carbon County
|Off-road riders found the local motocross track to be challenging. The brush, dirt, and rock was unlike most areas in which the riders compete on. The event was a success with competitors and spectators alike. |
National rider Ty Davis took the overall win in the pro class in round three of the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) held in Price last Saturday and Sunday. Round one was in Phoenix, Ariz. and round two was at Lake Havasu, Ariz. The two hour, 11 lap battle started on the Carbon County motocross track, then looped out to a dusty desert battle that took the pro racers on five miles of off-road desert course, complete with tight, handlebar wide washes, small drop offs, razorbacks and rocks. Then it was back onto the motocross track to face jumps and a tricky log obstacle that took out lap one's front runner, Robert Naugton pushing him back to 11th place by race end.
Mike Kiedrowski, the 2001 WORCS defending champion, hounded Davis through all 11 laps and finished only 12 seconds back. Both Davis and Kiedrowski finished with a two minute lead over third place Russell Pearson.
In an event that Carbon County has been preparing for since the inception of the idea in the fall of last year, Price welcomed national caliber riders from around the nation, local Utah desert racers chasing points, and racers just looking for a good race, in an event that combines the precision and timing of motocross with the demanding and fickle terrain of desert racing. It made for an exciting two days as Utah riders competed on the same course and at the same time as many of their nationally acclaimed heros.
The WORCS series is the brainchild of Dave Hamel, a former national desert rider from Nevada. The Hamel name is legendary in the off-road world. Many remember champion Danny Hamel, Dave's brother, who was killed in Baja in 1995. Through the WORCS series, Dave Hamel is fast becoming recognized in his own right as the promoter of a premier national off-road event that boasts such sponsors as Parts Unlimited, Yoshimura/Suzuki, Moose and many more. In addition, through the Danny Hamel memorial fund, the Hamels sponsor up and coming young riding talent throughout the country.
The fact that the WORCS race came to Price was the brainchild of local Utah County and Carbon County residents involved in off-road racing. After a few phone calls to Dave Hamel, and after conversations with Ken Kirkwood of CEMA, a local motocross club, Ken took the ball and started to run with it. He presented the idea to Carbon County commissioner, Tom Matthews who threw his support behind project. As a result of the hard work from Kirkwood and the support of Carbon County, improvements needed for the Price motocross track happened in a phenomenally short time frame. With much of the off-road course being run on land leased from the state by Phillips Petroleum, there were the necessary legalities to take care of. But with the clout of a national race, Kirkwood's persistence, the permission of Phillips and the support of Carbon County, the new sign-up building, 40 pad starting gate and parking areas were all in place when Dave Hamel and a skeletal WORCS crew arrived a week before the blessed event.
The gates opened Friday, May 24 for a practice session of seemingly controlled chaos. By Saturday morning, professional race teams and vendors filled the parking area, with local racers spreading out and filling in the rest of the parking lot. With professional work's bikes on display, with manufacturers, vendors and national racers walking around intermingling with the local racers, it was an off-road rider's fantasy come to life.
On Saturday, the races to determine winners in the various classes were run for both the WORCS series and the Utah Sportsmen Rider's Association (USRA) desert series. The course set for Saturday's races was longer than the Sunday Pro Race. All racers ran the same course on Saturday and were timed. The desert section was a total of 10 miles divided into two separate loops. Riders were sent out from the motocross track to a first desert loop of 8.5 miles, back into the motocross track, back out to a separate desert loop of 1.5 miles, then back onto the track. Most riders went around this course three or four times in the allotted one hour and 15 minutes scheduled for each event.
(All race times in the following events are rounded off to the nearest minute.)
Event A, with 90 contenders, was an unclassified race, a veritable free-for-all with no class distinctions and a first one to cross the finish line wins motto. In reality, the race was a chance for racers to scope out the course in advance and decide their strategies. The winner was David Pearson with a time of 39 minutes for two laps.
Next was the event B-one, in the Novice class. In a humbling experience for the men, Kelly Yancey, one of the top female riders in the nation, had the best time for the event with three laps completed in 68 minutes.
Event B-two included the rest of the Novice class. The winner of that race was Gus Adams with a race time of three laps in 71 minutes.
Event C included all riders competing in all age classes in the AA exp (pro), expert and amateur divisions. In a foreshadowing of things to come, Ty Davis won with a four lap finish of 82 minutes.
Event D put the four stroke and 125 cc bikes on the course together in the AA exp (pro), expert and amateur divisions. The winner was Nick Pearson doing four laps in 79 minutes.
The final race of Saturday was event E with with racers in the open and 250 classes in the AA exp (pro), expert and amateur divisions. The winner was Russell Pearson (yes, it runs in the family) with a four lap finish in 82 minutes.
By the end of the day, if anyone wasn't dusty, then they weren't there! County crews began prepping the track for the Sunday morning races, and watering trucks from the county and the gas company watered down accessible sections of the desert course to minimize dust.
Sunday morning dawned hotter than Saturday and the first race of the day was event F, scheduled as a team race. Find a partner and saddle up! With the course shortened for the upcoming pro race , 10 teams competed with the win going to Kyle Krause and Jonathon Weisman with an eight lap finish in 93 minutes.
Event G was the quad race. The winner was Doug Eichner doing five laps in 46 minutes.
Event H put the kids on the track. The winner was Justin Soule, a Danny Hamel Memorial Rider with a five lap finish in 47 minutes.
Finally, event I put the teeniest kids on a portion of the motocross track only. In sharp contrast to the final grueling pro race to follow, little ones top heavy with helmets scooted around the track followed closely by helpful sweepers amid cheers and smiles from proud parents and spectators.
As the stands began to fill up for event J, the pro race, course workers were sent out to monitor the off-road section of the course. The shortest distance between two points is any straight line, therefore experienced desert racers can smell, and will use this distance if not expressly forbidden by course markings or scowling bug-bitten officials in orange vests. Promoter Hamel spent Saturday night reviewing errant tracks on the desert course from Saturday's races and ribboning off the quick lines that many racers had conveniently found and used to their advantage. At 1:30 p.m. 36 pro riders went head to head, and approximately two hours later Davis emerged the undisputed winner of round three of the WORCS six-race series.
The results of last weekend's round three race puts last year's defending champion, Mike Kiedrowski, one point behind Davis in the series totals. It's shaping up to be an exciting and closely contested series with round four to be run at Washougal, Wash. on June 8-9. Results can be tracked at www.worcsracing.com.
Will the WORCS race return next year? The crystal ball hasn't revealed anything yet. The off-road conditions were very different from those found at other WORCS races where the off-road sections of course can be more easily groomed. Some racers found the dust and the county's desert terrain frustrating. Others found it a fun change and a chance to prove that they can excel in more extreme conditions.
In any event, Price and Carbon County proved that they can handle a national caliber event in style. The community along with the WORCS series helped to put Price on the national off-road map. Not bad considering that the county has never hosted an event of this magnitude in the past.