With freezing cold temps, rain and even snow flurries, the 2013 Best In The Desert (BITD) race season came to a close at the Henderson 250. The UTV points championship would come down this final round of racing making for additional excitement. For many, it simply provided even more anxiety! It was the 1917 Can-Am Maverick of Murray Motorsports who came into the final round with the points lead thus they had the most pressure to finish, and finish well. The 1919 Polaris RZR of Jagged X and the 1934 Polaris RZR of Coastal Racing would be coming in with Championship thoughts of their own as they sat behind the Murray Can-Am but well within striking distance. The pressure was off of these 2 teams who came into this race with plans to let it all hang out! The battlefield, or in this case the race course, was all set and ready to host the final battle of the year.
The Henderson 250 consisted of 3 – 40 (+/-) mile laps, but the race is held as a Grand Prix (GP) which meant that when the first machine in the race completed their 3rd lap the race would be over the next time anyone behind crossed the finish line. Unfortunately for those in the UTV class, Bikes and Quads were also in this early morning race so naturally, motorcycles, that are much faster and also starts well in front were going to be the deciding factor on whether or not a UTV/s would actually complete the full 3 laps. While we enjoy GP style races, we find fault with BITD’s method of including UTVs in with Bikes & Quads. In our opinion the GP finish should be determined by class meaning that when the first UTV finished & crossed the finish line after 3 laps it would be all the UTVs behind them last lap.
The green flag dropped just as the suns light began to silhouette the eastern mountain ridge in Jean, NV. Temps barely broke the 30deg mark all day, but with steady winds and the occasional snow flurry, temps felt and were much cooler. UTVs left the line 2 at a time just before 7am, starting off the race with a short infield drag race which snaked on through and out into the Nevada desert. 16 UTVs in total would take the checkered flag but it would be Mark Holz and Brian MacLean in the 1934 Coastal Racing Polaris RZR who would take the early lead. This is the last thing the other PRO UTVs in the race wanted to see happen as a short and fast race like this lends itself well to the 1934 Polaris RZR built by Mark Holz and his team at Holz Racing Products. The 2012 BITD PRO UTV champs are known to have the lightest and fastest UTV in the sport, and coming off an impressive win just weeks ago at the 2012 Baja 1000, momentum was definitely on the side of the 1934 Coastal Racing Polaris RZR. Now with clean air and a field of UTVs all behind them, it would be there race to lose as they began to chase down bikes and set a ferocious pace for the rest of the UTV field to try and maintain.
As the first lap came to a conclusion the battle-lines would be drawn and to know one’s surprise it was the 1934 Coastal Racing RZR who would enter main pit in the first position. Only seconds behind was the 1918 Cognito Motorsports RZR and tight on their bumper the 1919 RZR of Jagged X. In the 4th position and minutes behind the lead UTV were the points leaders, Murray Motorsports in their 1917 Can-Am. We watched closely to see what teams were doing strategically, pit stops needed to be performed quickly and precisely as they could be the deciding factor in a short race like the Henderson 250. Most teams were pitting to only take a quick splash of fuel as anything more would be enough to push them out of the top 5 and eliminate any chances of finishing on top. Unfortunately for Cognito Motorsports, their top 3 run would be ended due to a broken axle, and a rock going through the oil pan would be enough to rule the 1931 Jagged X out of the race before they would ever complete a lap. Cognito would fight on for a 5th place overall finish in the UTV race at Henderson, capping off a very successful year for the team from Bakersfield, CA.
As UTVs made their way through the 2nd lap of the race, the pit chatter began to include discussions of locating the lead bike on course. That lead bike was quickly starting to make its way by the slower UTVs which meant that the UTVs he passed were not going to make it out for a 3rd lap. Fortunately, the 1934 RZR of Coastal Racing, the 1919 RZR of Jagged X, the 1917 Maverick of Murray Motorsports and the 1946 Perkins Polaris RZR would all make it out onto their 3rd lap in that order and all still within minutes of each other. After a quick stop at Main Pit the Coastal Racing RZR and Jagged X RZR would head back out on course literally running bumper to bumper. The race was on and pressure was mounting for the Murray’s who knew they needed to make a hard push to close the gap on the 2 RZRs who stood in front with plans to ruin their Championship hopes.
Pt crews and families of the race teams began to arrive near our location at the finish line. All were waiting in suspense to see who would come into sight first and win the final race of the season. Crews were calculating points scenarios in their heads as the winner of the race could easily become the season champion since this was a double points race. With no teammates running in the top 3, you could guarantee that top machines were now running wide open leaving it all in the Nevada Desert knowing that it was now all or nothing! Soon the buzz of a Polaris could be heard and those familiar dual amber lights quickly let those at the finish line know that it was the 1919 Jagged X Polaris RZR of Brandon Schueler who was about to cross the finish line first. Before their dust was even able to settle the distinct orange graphics of the 1934 Coastal Racing RZR would also come into focus. After leading the entire day, a self proclaimed driver error forced the 1934 to pull over and replace a flat tire thus relinquishing their lead to the hard charging 1919.
As the 2 finishers were in line waiting for their podium interview the 1917 Can-Am Maverick of Murray Motorsports would pull in about 14 minutes behind the race winners. Before their helmets were off calculations were being done. Who would actually be the 2013 Champion? The top 3 of the race were already decided but the 2013 Champion was yet to be determined. We began to talk with both the Jagged X team and the Murray Motorsports team and both had come to the conclusion that the 1919 RZR and 1917 Maverick were in a points TIE. Per BITD rules, a tie means you go to a tie breaker which in this case is who had the most recent win. That would solidify the championship for the 1919 Jagged X Polaris RZR who had just won the previous race at the 2013 Bluewater Desert Challenge thus proving once again that every race does matter when you are talking about championships!
The 1919 Jagged X didn’t have a perfect season by any stretch but they did have a solid season and one that was good enough to take home their 5th UTV title at BITD. Brandon Schueler has won more championships then anyone else in the history of UTV desert racing and once again he and his Jagged X team proved just why they have and are considered the elite team in UTV desert racing. This win and championship caps off what has been a historic season for Polaris and for Jagged X who also won the 2013 SCORE Pro UTV Championship. 2 major desert championships for 1 team in 1 year is not only a first but is also proof of just how far this team has come and how far they continue to push this sport. We congratulate Brandon and his co-driver Blake, the entire Polaris / Jagged X team and all of their sponsors on a job well done. We couldn’t be more proud to be associated with this program and we are honored to call Brandon, Blake, Bill, Jason, Craig, Landon, Matt, Alan, and the rest of the Jagged X team, friends.
You can’t congratulate the Jagged X team without also giving props to the 1917 Can-Am Maverick team of Murray Motorsports. This is the 2nd or 3rd time these guys have lost a championship by only a small margine of points. While we are happy to see Jagged X get another championship, we can’t help but feel for our friends at Murray Motorsports. Jason & Derek have represented UTVUnderground.com since the first time they ever took a green flag, they support us tremendously both on and off the track, and they always promote the sport of UTV racing in positive and courteous way. While they did not win the championship, they still very much proved why they are also an elite factory backed program that you cannot ever count out of not just a race but also a championship run. Can-Am should be proud of their top desert racing program, we know we are proud to be a part of it and I think I speak for all of the sponsors on their team when I say that we will always have the back of the Murray brothers!
It wouldn’t be fair to not make mention of the Coastal Racing Polaris RZR. It looked as if they were going to hold off the 1919 and take yet another win but unfortunately for them luck wouldn’t be on their side in that final lap.While Mark Holz appeared to be disappointed as he rolled the 1934 to the podium, a 2nd place finish in any desert race and especially when you have 10 other fully capable machines in your class, is nothing to be bummed about. His frustration speaks to just why this team is always in a position to do well, he is competitive, as is the entire 1934 team, and anything less than a win to them is coming up short of their goals. Coastal prepares to win every race they enter, 2012 resulted in a championship, and while they came up short of a repeat in 2013 they still did some great things this year. Heck, winning the Baja 1000 is as good as any championship trophy as far as we are concerned. As is the case with all of the teams who run our colors, we are extremely honored to be included in the 1934 Coastal Racing program. Scott Kiger, Mark Holz, Brian MacLean and the rest of the team always represent not only themselves and this site, but this entire sport at an extremely high level. We look forward to seeing what the 1934 team brings to the start line in 2014, we have a feeling Mark Holz and Scott Kiger have some new tricks up their sleeves….
With respect, we need and want to mention and congratulate the other winners of this race. In the Sportsman class, the 1990 RZR of Rowdy Dog Racing took home a huge win at Henderson which for them clinched the 2013 Sportsman UTV Championship. While the Sportsman class rarely gets the love they deserve, they are still a group of racers out there competing in our fast growing UTV class. We also want to take the time to congratulate Matt & Sarah Krimple in the 1961 PRO DSR1 Vigor Motorsports John Deere Gator. These guys show up and race with a commitment thats as strong as any other team in off-road racing. Not only do they represent UTVUnderground.com, they also represent a brand that not many would ever think to be competitive in off-road racing in John Deere. Congrats to both those class winners!
It was a fun year at BITD. The UTV class is still growing, new cars are still appearing at every race and its great to see the involvement from the OEMs in our sport. Congrats to everyone who took on the 2013 race season and THANK YOU from everyone at UTVUnderground.com for showing the return support. We didn’t miss one race all season, produced clips for Polaris after every round and had some fantastic imagery thanks to our awesome contributing photographers. We are excited for next year, but for now we will enjoy the short time we have off. With that said, we wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we will see you all at Parker in 2014!
Words by: Joey DiGiovanni
Photos by: Ernesto Araiza & Jason Zindroski // UTVUnderground.com
*2013 PRO UTV Class Champion
**2013 Sportsman Class Champion
*1. 1919 | Jagged X Polaris RZR | Brandon Schueler / Blake Van De Loo
2. 1934 | Coastal Racing Polaris RZR | Scott Kiger / Mark Holz
3. 1917 | Murray Motorsports Can-Am Maverick | Jason Murray / Derek Murray
4. 1946 | Perkins Dirt Polaris RZR | Christina Perkins / Kent Perkins
5. 1918 | Cognito Motorsports Polaris RZR | Justin Lambert / Justin Sheakley
6. 1902 | Kolob Air Racing Polaris RZR | Jeff Obering / Darren Gillhouse
7. 1914 | Triple S Polaris RZR | Rusty Stebar / Chris Peterson
8. 1905 | MB Motorsports Can-Am Maverick | Marc Burnett / Rick Johnson
9. (1st Pro DSR1) 1961 | Vigor Motorsports John Deere Gator | Matt Krimple / Sarah Krimple
10. 1904 | Dezert Toyz Can-Am Maverick | Cory Sappington / Eric Fitch
11. (2nd Pro DSR1) 1979 | Kary Enviromental Yamaha Rhino | Jeff Kary / Justin Brisbon
12. 1929 | Arctic Cat Wildcat | Lanse Chournos / Aspen Chournos
13. 1911 | Vigor Motorsports John Deere Gator RSX | Scott Martinez / Michael Mercurio
**14. (1st Sportsman UTV) 1990 | Rowdy Dog Polaris RZR | Mike Colosimo / Jim Osier
15. (3rd Pro DSR1) 1980 | Kary Environmental Yamaha Rhino | Brad Greigo / Bryan Gullish
16. (2nd Sportsman UTV) 1985 | Jersey Electric Polaris RZR | Brian Geczi / Dave Provost