Round 4 of the 2013 WORCS Racing Series was by far the best round to date. Sand Hollow SVRA in Hurricane, UT would play host to not only the most beautiful course in the 2013 WORCS season but also the most ferocious of track layouts that one could ever expect. This race would not only test the will of drivers but would also put every bit of their equipment to the limit. This was not a race to show up to with a UTV that was not properly prepped and ready for war!
With weather in the 80 degree range and not a cloud in the sky, the course that lay on the banks of the Sand Hollow Reservoir made the atmosphere feel more like a vacation then a race. The track itself would be made mostly of Sand Hollow’s bright orange and unforgiving sand and would twist itself 12 miles through traitorous rocky hill climbs and dune filled descents. While the sand would wreak havoc on gas mileage and engine temperature, the rocks would play enemy to the competitor’s wheels and tires. And without a motocross track section involved, this race would be the closest thing to a desert race that the WORCS Series has to offer.
Just fewer than 70 UTV’s would line up to take on the Sand Hollow WORCS event. 22 of the entries would be competing in the Pro Production class with 19 lining up for war in the Production 1000 class. Out of the 41 starting in those 2 classes only 27 would complete 2 laps, which is all the race would end up being. Due to its difficulty, 2 laps would be all that the racers could get done in the allotted time limit with RJ Anderson being the fastest of the competitors completing the race in 55 min 53 seconds.
Normally at a WORCS race it is easy for us to monitor race positions and the battles that take place within. We usually see the competitors numerous times on course and can track who is where, who passed who and who has broken and fallen out. Sand Hallow would not lend itself to this type of coverage however. UTVUnderground, despite full access to the entire course thanks to Sean Reddish and his team at WORCS and a Polaris XP900 lent to us by RJ Anderson and the Walker Evans Racing team, would only be able to see the racers 2 times on course due to its length. With that said, it was very hard to follow all of the battles taking place in this battle of attrition but we did our best to track what we could.
We would stage ourselves at RM4.5 for our first lap photo location. The spot was a 2-line, up hill rock climb with one of the most amazing backdrops a photographer could ask for. WORCS would go away from the 2-race format for this race due to time constraints and the size of the track thus sending off the racers row by row starting with Pro Production. Bobby Vanbeekum (POL) to no one’s surprise would hole shot and lead the pack up through our location but it would only be another ¼ of a mile past us where Vanbeekum’s tie rod would fail and end his day and chances of winning back-to-back rounds. The tie rod failure would be enough to let the hard charging 2012 champion Ryan Piplic (POL) into the lead and he would not look back. RJ Anderson (POL) would be sent off in row 2 of the Pro Production class putting RJ in a position to really work himself and his machine to catch up to the lead pack that was quickly putting time on the rest of the field.
The Production 1000 class would be the next class to leave the line at Sand Hollow and class points leader Mitch Guthrie Jr. (POL) was looking to make Sand Hollow his 4th win in a row this season. Guthrie, a teenager from Southern California drives with the skill and intelligence of a man twice his age. It doesn’t hurt when your teacher and father is one of the best behind the wheel of a UTV in his own regard having dominated the UTV class at the famed King Of The Hammers race event since its inception. Mitch Jr. had some returning competition as expected but he also had a new competitor coming to battle in Tanner Godfrey (ARC) of Sandy, UT. Godfrey, a former MX champion who broke his back in a MX accident 5 years ago and lost the use of his legs recently set a new official world long jump record in his Arctic Cat Wildcat launching the UTV 105ft. This feat should come as no surprise to anyone who recognizes the Godfrey name. Tanner’s uncle Greg Godfrey is the founder of the famed Nitro Circus crew whom are known for their insane action sports inspired stunts. The entire Godfrey Clan participates in the Nitro Circus and the Wildcat has allowed Tanner who is teaching himself to walk again to get back into the family business.
A couple of other hard charging Utah locals would also line up in the Production 1000 class. Brent Fox (POL) of Highland, UT and Richie Gainer (POL) of West Jordan, UT would join Godfrey and Guthrie in leading the pack of 1000’s around the challenging course. Unfortunately for Guthrie his goal of winning the race would soon turn into a goal of just finishing as he would suffer 2 broken thumbs in a violent impact on lap 1. But instead of quitting Guthrie would gut it out and end up still finishing in the 4th position, proving that the young gun not only has the ability to win races but also has the strength and courage to overcome such tremendous pain and gut out a top 5 finish. His injury would leave the 3 Utah boys to duke it out to the finish. Godfrey who drives with the use of a cane due to his limited leg use would not only inspire those who are aware of his story but would also shock the field as they witness this skilled racer whip his UTV around the course and battle for a win pushing race leader Brent Fox all the way to the finish. Fox would hold off Godfrey in the end to take the Production 1000 win putting Godfrey in 2nd leaving Gainer to round out the Podium. We want to wish Mitch Guthrie Jr. a speedy recovery and we hope he will be back in Round 5 with full health. We also want to congratulate Tanner Godfrey on his 2nd place finish. He is a huge inspiration and all things aside, his driving skills speak volumes and we only hope to see Godfrey back out there competing at future rounds.
While the Pro’s were battling for the overall and cars were flipping, breaking, and leaving a wake of parts in their path, the Production 850 class was duking it out on their own terms. Class point’s leader Alfredo Ramirez (POL) was looking to get his 2nd win of the season while his teammate Chris Willing (POL) was looking to get back into his groove having not seen the top of the box since round 1. But while the boys were looking to get back to their winning ways it would be women’s pro MX racer Sara Price (POL) who would look to be making her own mark on the 850 class. Despite Price’s quick start would soon be overcome by the powerful Kawasaki’s piloted by Nolan Remlinger (KAW) and Justin Lambert (KAW) both of whom were looking to get back into the points battle. Lambert would pull the hole-shot and as the class settled into their groove the running order would begin to take shape. Price’s RZR was clutched for the bottom end leaving her without the top end to keep up in the fast sections while the Kawaski’s and RZR of Ramirez would slowly start to put time on the field. Remilinger would lead the pack up through RM4 but before he could continue his lead on to the finish he would succumb to an engine fire which would leave his machine broken and his chances of winning or finishing going up in smoke.
The Production 850 class would become spread out having to dice around the slower and broken 1000’s and the pro’s in front of them, but one 850 racer who was stuck in the back would begin to make his way to the front slowly picking his way through the desert and through the field methodically. Danny Rosenzweig (JHN) is easily the biggest underdog in the WORCS series piloting the only John Deere RSX 850i in the series. The yellow and green machine built by magnum Offroad rarely gets the respect it surely deserves. Rosenzweig has taken a slow but steady approach to the season with goals of being the first John Deere UTV to win a championship in off-road competition. Rosenzweig, owner of Magnum Offroad took on the challenge of building a John Deere RSX for competition and has faced the challenge head on and with multiple top 5 finishes this season putting he and his goal of winning a championship well within reach. So as the pack would begin to thin out, Rosenzweig would begin to turn up the heat and make his way to the front finding himself just behind the 2nd place UTV of Lambert as they made their way though the final lap of the race. While Ramirez was pulling hard in 1st place Lambert and Rosenzweig would find themselves in a race of their own. Lambert was determined to keep his Kawasaki in front of the Deere despite having a blown rear tire since before the end of the first lap, Lambert was not stopping unless the machine forced him too. Rosenzweig would catch the wounded yet still very capable Kawasaki at the top of the racecourse around RM8 and would begin to push Lambert in hopes of causing him to make a mistake. With limited passing lanes Rosenzweig was forced to run on Lamberts rear bumper as they made their way down the sand dune decent towards the finish line. Lambert refusing to let up was flying over blind razor back dunes while the green and yellow RSX would be pushed to its limits trying to run him down. The battle would be waged all the way to the checkered flag with Lambert narrowly beating out Rosenzweig and finishing just behind Ramirez awarding the John Deere its first ever podium finish!
As the battles and carnage behind them were taking place it was the overall win that was on the minds of the top 3 in the Pro UTV class. Piplic, Anderson, and Baron in that order were barreling through the desert running their XP900’s to the absolute limit. Piplic despite having the physical lead knew he had to put in a solid finish to overcome the time difference between his and Anderson’s separated start time. Anderson was in the 2nd row while Piplic was sent off in row 1. As we sat in our second photo location at approximately RM10.5, we waited to see who would be the lead UTV on course. In the distance we could hear the tight wound sound of a high-strung XP900 which quickly turned into a buzz and then immediately we saw the orange plastics of Piplic crest the dune giving us reason to believe that he could possibly become the round 4 race winner. But before he got out of range of our camera lenses was the roar of another XP900 and like a rocket the green RZR of Anderson came shooting over the same dune like a man possessed. RJ signaled to us as if asking for permission for take off as he launched once again over the dune we were standing on making it clear that he was not going to let up the rest of the way down the hill. RJ would push until he reached Piplic’s rear bumper, dicing looking for a way to get around as they approached the narrowed finish. With the largest crowd of the season standing at the finish line in anticipation, Piplic led the 2 high powered race UTV’s through the highway underpass tunnel bumper to bumper as they plowed through the finish line. The narrow physical finish would give Anderson the overall win and award Piplic with a hard earned 2nd. Not to be outdone and only a slight distance behind the 2 would be Beau Baron (POL) who’s wounded RZR would round out the top 3.
Round 4 of the 2013 season in Sand Hollow was by far the most fun, scenic, challenging and exciting race of the season thus far. For us at UTVUnderground.com it was our favorite WORCS race that we have ever attended. Spending time at this facility was an awesome change of pace and we can only hope for a return to Sand Hollow in 2014. UTVUnderground.com wants to thank the staff at WORCS and Utah’s BLM for a well done, fantastic race event. It was a well-attended race on all ends and it went off in a big way. UTVUnderground.com also wants to thank all of those who took time to donate to the Josh Fredrick Foundation. We hope to see Josh make a full recovery after his round 3 accident that has left him with a terrible back injury and with no use of his legs.
As always, UTVUnderground.com wants to thank each and every single racer and team that runs our colors and represents us both on and off the track. Nothing makes our day more than to see all those UTV’s running those underground decals!
Until the next war……
Words & Photos by: Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com