|2013 WORCS Round 4 at Sand Hollow
Photos and Text by Seth Fargher,SethFargher.com
Racers and fans were greeted with sunny skies, warm temperatures and breathtaking scenery at the 4th round of the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) held at Sand Hollow State Park near Hurricane Utah. The WORCS event literally took over the park and officials worked closely with the BLM to ensure the environmental impact was minimal while still providing an unbelievable racing experience.
Logistically the location provided a few problems as there were only a handful of parking areas and even fewer camping areas. Registration and vendor row were located in the main lot near the starting line and the other areas were spread out down the highway, some as far as a mile away.
While the pit situation was a little inconvenient, it had a relaxing feel to it and I actually felt more like I was on a camping trip with a bunch of buddies than at a race. A few folks even made their way down to the reservoir and reeled in some bass over the course of the weekend.
While the scenery was spectacular, the 13 mile course would prove to be incredibly hard on equipment. Most of the course was dry sand which made traction a problem and also caused deep whoops to develop. There were several areas with optional lines through the rocks and the course eventually snaked through the sand dunes before dropping back down to the finish line. With lap times greater than 30 minutes for most of the field, racers would only complete 2 laps that is if they didnt fall prey to the course on the first lap which happened to be the case for almost a ¼ of the field.
Beau Baron and Robert VanBeekum were in a dead sprint from the wave of the green flag and it appeared as though VanBeekum had a slight advantage until he got squirrelly and crossed in front of Baron, forcing Baron to brake hard and kill his engine. VanBeekum recovered and managed to exit turn one in the lead with Doug Eichner, Ryan Piplic and Nick Nelson right on his heels.
In row 2, RJ Anderson came off the line like a man with something to prove and rightly so. The Polaris/Loan Mart/Holz Racing Products driver has yet to finish a race this season and was hoping to regain some valuable points at Sand Hollow.
From the long deep, sandy starting line, racers would fall in line down a severely whooped out fence line before crossing the highway and heading out into the sage covered hillside. Eager to make it two wins in a row, VanBeekum would fall short after snapping a tie-rod not long into the first lap. His misfortune opened the door for Ryan Piplic to take over the lead who was trading places with Doug Eichner in the opening miles of the race. Eichner would continue to pressure for the remainder of lap one until a front end problem would sideline him completely.
Series points leader Beau Baron is usually among the front runners if not checking out completely but his first turn fiasco with VanBeekum put him almost all the way to the rear of the first wave of racers. By the end of lap one Baron had worked his way up to third and was trailing Eichner entering the final lap.
Despite leaving the line 30 seconds behind the front row, RJ Anderson managed to reel that group in with half of the first lap remaining. Evidently it didnt take him long to wade through traffic because by the time he passed me near mile marker 11 he was in physical 4th position and gaining ground quickly.
Because the course was so long there was very little visibility for spectators however I managed to sneak backwards on the track after the start of the race to capture some photos as the racers came through.
Ryan Piplic managed to hold off the charging Anderson and come down the hill in first place despite having completely blown out the bottom of his left rear shock reservoir as well destroying the right rear CV joint. Piplic would finish the race physically in first place but RJ Anderson would end up taking the overall on adjusted time. This win snapped RJs string of bad luck and he was incredibly happy to finally put together a win.
Beau Baron managed to get bumped on the second lap by Ken Benson while Benson was trying for a pass. The collision tore the right front fender off of Baron’s Polaris RZR XP and caused Benson to lose control and flip. After breaking a ball joint on the final lap at Havasu which cost him the win, Baron decided to baby his car for the remainder of the race and just cruise to the finish. After crossing the line he had no clue that he actually finished the race in third.
In the Production 1000 class Brent Fox would end Mitch Guthries string of first place finishes with Tanner Godfrey finishing in second and Ritchie Gainer rounding out the Podium. Godfrey, who is a member of the famed Nitro Circus recently set a new world record for the longest UTV jump which is even more impressive considering he has limited use of his legs. He actually drives his Arctic Cat Wildcat with one hand while operating a lever that controls the throttle and the brake. Amazingly impressive feat and were confident well be seeing more from this racer who doesnt know the meaning of the word quit.
Speaking of not quitting, Mitch Guthrie managed to break both of his thumbs after a hard impact during Saturdays race. Rather than throw in the towel and seek medical attention, he charged on and finished the race. Despite ending his bid for a perfect season, Guthrie still sits comfortably in first place, a whole 32 points ahead of his closest competitor.
Alfredo Ramirez was pleased to be back atop the podium in the Production 850 class after a less than stellar 6th place finish at Havasu. Chris Willing and Magnum Offroads Daniel Rosenzweig rounded out the podium with Rosenzweig giving John Deere and the Gator RSX 850i its first ever WORCS podium. Dirt bike cross over gal Sara Price was unable to match her second place finish from Havasu but she drove hard and steady, earning herself a top five finish on the day.
Although 2013 is his first go at side by side racing, David Haagsma seems quite at home inside a cage. Whats more, hes able to pilot his Polaris RZR 570 around a course faster than most of the drivers in larger displaced machines ahead of him. Haagsma and Michael Bunyea were on the gas the entire race and finished just three seconds apart, giving Haagsma the win in the Production 700 class and 6th place overall.
Round four was definitely one for the books. The scenery was by far the best we’ve seen all season and the racing action was intense. One of the greatest things about WORCS racing is everything can change in an instant and with five rounds remaining, the door for the championship is still wide open!
2013 WORCS ATV/UTV Schedule:
2013 WORCS Racing: