S3 Powersports Wins The Battle, UTV Inc Wins The War
The 2015 Best In The Desert (BITD) Pro UTV season championship would all come down to the Henderson 250, the final race of the year. Johnny Angal in the #1921 UTV Inc Polaris RZR and Justin Lambert in the #1918 Cognito Motorsports Polaris RZR were separated by enough points to make the final race extremely interesting. Brandon Schueler in the #1919 Jagged X Polaris RZR was still hanging in there but would need both Lambert and Angal to have their worst days while he had his best to be able to squeak away with his 7th title.
30 +/- UTVs would stage to take on the final race of the season solidifying the Pro UTV class as the largest of any class entered at the Henderson 250. Proof once again that the UTV class continues to grow and that the competitors are committed despite where they may lye in the championship standings.
As is the case many times throughout the season, the race claims to be 250 miles but UTVs alongside a few other classes would really only be racing 160 miles. Due to time constraints BITD shortens the race for certain classes to ensure enough time for the Unlimited classes to run the full 250 miles. It would be nice for UTVs to be able to run a full 250 miles and help further the challenge of these desert races making attrition a larger part. As it stands now, Henderson, Parker, the UTVWC and Silver State seem so much like a drag race versus a true long range desert race but nevertheless it still is fun and extremely challenging.
The Henderson 250 festivities are held in downtown Henderson but the race itself is held in Jean, NV on the course many are now familiar with as the current Mint 400 race course. BITD is referred to by many as BLADE IN THE DESERT because of their blading or smoothing of the actual race course. It is said by Casey Folks, head of BITD, that BLM and other agencies require this type or course maintenance which is a real shame. It seems as if the berms of the course are getting higher and even harder to move off of and the ruts and bumps seem to get squared and deeper than a natural trail just left to nature to rehabilitate. Whatever the case may be, the course by the second lap was harsh and rough in many spots and in others was soft and dusty.
One very positive change for this race was that UTVs were moved out of the Bike / ATV race which always starts with the sunrise. Anyone who has attended the Henderson 250 would know that this tends to be the coolest race of the year temperature wise and this year was no different. With UTVs now starting in “Race #2” at 9AM it allows for the temp to rise a bit which is great. Downside to this change is running with other larger 4 wheel vehicles. That means more dust and more larger vehicles to have to pass and or be passed by. With all that said, I doubt you would find any UTV racers that would want it changed back to the way it was for this race. We thought it was perfect and allows us to have some time to prepare on race morning while still being done with the race by 1pm or so.
Racers staged two-by-two, racing off the line every 30 seconds through a short 2 turn infield before meeting side-by-side in a race into the desert. Early in the field a racer on the outside line would dump his RZR onto its side in turn one and while BITD worked hard to right the vehicle they also continued to send vehicles off the line. The next 3-4 UTVs in the outside line were slowed to a major disadvantage until the rolled over RZR could get out of the way. Guys like Sims and Holz were 2 of the teams that were hindered by this mishap and while it didn’t exactly affect Sim’s race in the long run, Holz on the other hand would be able to look back on this early moment of the race and blame a possible race win miss on this incident. The rest of the start seemed pretty smooth for the rest of the field and the drag race for the win and season championship was under way!
A light breeze moved the dust along in many parts allowing for an even faster pace to be set. It wasn’t long before Dustin Jones & Shane Dowden of S3 Powersports in their Turbo Maverick began to set a pace that would be hard to overcome for anybody. S3 has had a fantastic rookie season. The mud riders from Louisiana blasted onto the scene in 2015 with a factory Can-Am sponsorship and no desert racing experience whatsoever, but what they had was some money, a lot of skill and a will to learn and do whatever it took to be the best. What resulted was a win at the 2015 Mint 400 and podium contention in many other races throughout the season. But as is the case with many in desert racing, you can only run that crazy fast pace for so long before something gives and unfortunately this season they had some parts let go keeping them from further race wins. Henderson would be different for S3 and their driver was also different which made this race win even more impressive! Dustin Jones would trade places with his usual co-driver Shane Dowden and give Shane a chance to wheel this entire race. Dustin did joke around prior to the race saying that if Shane was off the pace that he was going to pull him from the wheel but Shane fired back reminding everyone that he has beat Dustin before and that he would be just fine. Fine he was, Shane would wheel the #1978 to a first place finish at this years Henderson 250!
Now back to that early race mishap that happened in turn 1. Ryan Holz who was driving the #1964 Holz Racing Products RZR was one of the unlucky vehicles to get stuck behind the rolled over RZR. We would have to go back to see exactly just how long that delay was for Holz but here is what we do know. Ryan Holz would finish just behind Dowden in second place by only 37 seconds! 37 seconds is what separated a win from a loss here at the Henderson 250. Now we may be reaching to say that the start slowed Holz to the point of losing the race, we all know many things happen on course that cost racers seconds, minutes and many times hours. Regardless, the young 16 year old driver proved to everyone that he is no slouch and like his father Mark who rode shotgun and also built the #1964 RZR, we expect the younger Holz to compete at a very high level in 2016.
Rounding out the podium would be a name we have been hearing more and more throughout the 2015 season, Poelman. Dodge Poelman, like Holz, is the son of another talented driver. Dodge is 15 years old and has showed some signs of serious potential. The #1962 Supercross.com RZR has had its share of podium’s. For this race they would enlist off-road racing talent Doug Mittag to co-drive and then drive the second lap of the 2 lap race. Together the two would drive the #1962 RZR to a third place finish! While we are sure we will see more of Poelman, we also hope to see more of Mittag in the desert. We all know he has skills as a 22 year old short course racer, but we think there is huge potential for Mittag in the desert also!
While racing to win is always the name of the game, sometimes its the bigger picture of a season championship that takes precedent over ones approach. Fortunately for us fans, knowing that battle this season was coming down between Johnny Angal and Justin Lambert we knew it was going to be an all out fight and that neither would just “race to finish”. Johnny has an attitude about him that you have to admire, its all about glory and bragging rights, he wants to win and its first or last when you talk to the 50 year old who is only in his second year of professional off-road racing. The 40 year old Lambert is much like Angal when it comes to the will to win and being that he had to best Angal this race while knowing that Johnny is going to hang it all out, it put the pressure on Lambert to not only be on his A-Game but to also be perfect while hoping that Angal had a bad day, a really bad day! Well, Johnny Angal had a bad day, his worst in fact of the 2015 season and while Lambert didn’t have his best day he still finished in 4th place. Initially the calculations at the finish line showed that the results would have Lambert and his Cognito Motorsports Polaris RZR hoisting the 2015 season championship trophy. Justin & Justin stoop atop their RZR and popped champagne for the cameras and for a brief moment basked in the glory of winning the season championship, the first of their racing career. However, not much longer Angal and BITD began to take a closer look realizing that this race would actually be Angal’s one throw out race of the season. This result would actually have him edging out Lambert by 2 points to take down the first championship for the #1921 UTV Inc Polaris RZR race team!
Its hard to decipher whats more important, a race win or a season championship. Wins unless done in the biggest races are often forgotten about by anyone other that the team that won the race. Championships however seem to live forever. You look at Brandon Schueler and I could name a few of his race wins, but I always know that he is the 6-time BITD Pro UTV champion. I couldn’t be more excited for Angal and more bummed for Lambert at the very same time. Those who race and follow racing know just how hard it is to win let alone consistently perform to the level of winning a championship. Angal has done a lot in his short career as a racer. He has built something like 4 different race cars in 2 years, he has won the Baja 1000, and now has won a season championship. There aren’t many other classes in off-road racing that could allow a total rookie to just show up and compete at this level. Its something very special about the UTV class, it truly is a class for anyone and everyone all at the same time. Congrats to the entire #1921 race team on a season well done.
It should be noted that Lacretia Beurrier also won the 2015 Pro Unlimited Championship this year in her #2909 Polaris RZR. While she locked that championship up a race or two ago, it goes without saying that she earned not only numerous wins this year in the unlimited class but secured a championship for her team and sponsors. Much has been said that the class has never produced consistent entires & competition, and while that may be true that should not take away from the fact that the #2909 RZR showed up to compete at each and every race no matter what the class entries were. We would have hoped to see Turbo vehicles been placed into the Unlimited class for the 2016 season to better help grow that class but it looks like that will not happen. Whatever class Beurrier plans to compete in, we know she and her team will show up with a well built machine, a quality program and a will to win! Congrats to the entire #2909 race team on a season well done.
It was an exciting season of racing. The Turbo Maverick platform proved to be the real deal all while the RZR platform continued to dominate the standings and car counts. Many predict that there could finally be a championship looming for the Can-Am race program in 2016 as their team has had a full year of prep on their Turbo platform. With the creation of the Turbo class for 2016 they (Can-Am) could get ahead in the standings before those racing Turbo RZRs have time to really get them dialed in. So far the results for those competing on the Turbo RZR platform have been less than stellar. Because of BITD’s stance on keeping UTVs racing at the Parker 250 so that they can justify and pay for bikes to race, there is not much of an off-season for UTVs. This is a whole other issue for a whole other article, but as it stands it will be interesting to see just how ready those new Turbo RZRs will be come that first weekend in January. We know the Can-Am Turbo program will be strong in the newly created Pro Turbo UTV class, and its almost goes without saying that RZRs will continue to dominate the Pro UTV class. Our little race class is growing, thats a great thing, could 2016 be the biggest year AGAIN? Only time will tell….
Congrats to everyone who competed this season, thank you to all of you who continue to support our site as we look to continue supporting you!
See you in 2016..
Side Note: Huge props to our media staff this year. As has been the case for almost 7 years now, if you want the best off-road UTV racing coverage you come to UTVUnderground.com! Our team finished the year off with a bang and we have provided one of the best photo galleries of the season for you to enjoy!!
2015 Henderson 250 RESULTS
Pro UTV Results
1. #1978 Dustin Jones / Shane Dowden – S3 Powersports – Can-Am Maverick Turbo
2. #1964 Ryan Holz / Mark Holz – Holz Racing Products – Polaris RZR XP1000
3. #1962 Dodge Poelman / Doug Mittag – Supercross.com – Polaris RZR XP1000
4. #1918 Justin Lambert / Justin Sheakley – Cognito Motorsports – Polaris RZR XP1000
5. #1917 Jason Murray / Derek Murray – Murray Motorsports – Can-Am Maverick Turbo
6. #1994 Snake Livernash / Chris Cleary – Larson Powersports – Polaris RZR XP1000
7. #1969 Logan Gastel / Adam McKinney – Gastel Motorsports – Can-Am Maverick
8. #1904 Cory Sappington / Jason Flanders – Desert Toyz Motorsports – Can-Am Maverick Turbo
9. #1910 Dan Fisher / Morgan Russell – LoneStar Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000
10. #1952 Jonathan McVay / Greg Williams – LoneStar Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000
11. #1946 Christina Perkins / Kelley Clarke – Perkins Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000
12. #1915 Robert Villareal / Cal Vandervoort – LoneStar Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000
13. #1966 Cody Rahders / Fred Rahm – R3 Motorsports – Polaris RZR XP Turbo
14. #1929 Lanse Chournos / Sam Chournos – Rally On The Rocks – Polaris RZR XP1000
15. #1912 John Melvin / Tim Jewett – LoneStar Racing – Polaris XP1000
16. #1999 Chad Ragland / Joey DiGiovanni – UTVUnderground & CageWRX – Polaris RZR XP1000
17. #1926 Erik Goulish / Chris Balak – One Way Electric – Polaris RZR XP1000
18. #1965 Jeramiah Drew / Christopher Edmondson – #XP Warrior – Polaris RZR XP1000
19. #1919 Brandon Schueler / Blake Van De Loo – Jagged X Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000
20. #1913 Branden Sims / Justin Krause – Sims Motorsports – Polaris RZR XP Turbo
21. #1997 Kenny Brink / Miles Elliot – On Site Communications – Polaris RZR XP1000
22. #1921 Johnny Angal / Eric Ringler – UTV Inc. – Polaris RZR XP Turbo – SEASON CHAMPION
Pro Unlimited Results
1. #2909 Lacretia Beurrier / Chris Moore – Dragon Fire Racing – Polaris RZR XP1000 – SEASON CHAMPION
2. #2903 Jeff Kary / Terri Kary – Kary Environmental – Polaris RZR XP1000