4-Hour UTV Rally Raid at Cullman, AL
Chalk up another one for Brit and the mighty XP
April 19, 2013
The one thing that has drawn me to off road racing year after year, for most of my life, is the constant challenge provided by the competition and the race courses. The UTV Rally Raid series adds yet another challenge to the mix – racing for four hours. The amount of car prep it takes to get your vehicle ready for a four hour race is tremendous, but the one thing I was unable to prepare for at this race was the toll taken on my body during the four hours on course. Lack of sleep from the night before due to a long night of car prep left me pretty much exhausted before the race even started. That makes for a long four hour race.
Leaving the line at 6 o’clock (PM) sharp, I rounded the first turn as the first driver on course. The initial couple of miles of race course were immaculately prepped and watered thanks to the hard work of Jim Tsakatos and an industrial water truck donated by Crane Works of Birmingham. The Cullman, AL area had not seen rain in over a week, leaving the Alabama red clay in a fine powdery dust just waiting for an unsuspecting racer to speed by and sweep it into the air. Thankfully, I was able to jump out in front of the dust for one lap. That single lap turned out to be the fastest lap of the night, and a new course record at 15:08. I had large aspirations of breaking the 15 minute mark at this race, but due to the slick, dry course conditions I’m not sure a sub-15 minute lap would have been possible at this round. Unfortunately, a handful of minutes into the second lap I caught up to the back of the pack, putting me in a haze of dust backlit by the bright summer sunlight. I spent the remaining 3:45:00 at about ¼ throttle, easing my way around the race course. Challenging as a four hour race is, it pales in comparison to a four hour race in heavy Alabama red clay dust.
By the end of the evening, my physical well-being was definitely in question. My reflexes were gone and I was literally seeing things on the track. Looking back on this, I attribute these issues to lack of sleep. I won’t make this mistake for the next race. Thankfully, I had built up a sizeable lead and was able to coast in for a narrow win over second place, Johnny Ford. The UTV Rally Raid staff implemented huge flat screen monitors that were displayed in the timing tent. Without the accuracy provided by the new scoring system, I would not have known about the lead and might not have made it back to the pits safely. The Rally Raid and Stoney Lonesome staff is constantly improving the series and race course. Their latest accomplished goal is the new scoring system. They listened to the feedback and came through with shining colors.
The dust was again the big story for round 4, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. The Stoney Lonesome crew is in the process of building a path for the water truck so that it can reach additional crucial parts of the course. There are also talks of bringing in an additional water truck.
Again for round 4, the Polaris XP 900 was flawless. The one standout trait of the car for this race was the suspension. The King Shocks were absolutely perfect. I adjusted the clickers a few clicks to the stiff side just before the race and luckily it was perfectly dialed to the course. The shocks definitely made a large difference in setting the course record. Thanks, King Shocks!!!
Another product that I can’t fail to mention is the FireBreather intake system from DragonFire Racing. In heavy dust conditions like this, it is imperative to keep your engine protected from the elements. Dust can almost immediately put an end to your race day and cause lasting damage to your checking account. DragonFire has created a near perfectly sealed three phase filtration system. For more information on the FireBreather intake, check out DragonFire Racing.
My team of contributing people and companies are now working on a four race win streak. Huge thanks to the following people: My Dad – Jimmy Mansell, Polaris, Octane Media, ATVScene.com, Blue Torch Fab, DragonFire Racing, GBC Tires, HiPer Wheels, DirtyDawg Performance, Pro Armor, K4 Switches and PRP Seats.
We will be taking a much needed 32 day break from UTV racing. Our next race will be back at Stoney Lonesome for round 5 of the UTV Rally Raid series on June 30th. The 2012 RZR-XP 900 will be broken down for a complete overhaul during the downtime. We have some much needed modifications planned. Stay tuned for details.