2015 Best in the Desert UTV World Championship Race Report
By: Johnny Angal 1921 UTVinc.com
Boy what to say about this race? Coming off a great start to the 2015 season I just didn’t know how to feel about the UTV World Championship. I was still feeling great about our Polaris RZR XP 1000 4 and Feeling even better about our Revamped FOX PODIUM Internal Bypass with DSC Adjusters. I knew we would be racing against a huge field of talented UTV racers that have been racing for years and have their cars dialed. So I guess I’d say I had kind of an uneasy feeling knowing that if everything went right, I could win a $20000.00+ Polaris RZR, a host of other great prizes and some cash. Oh yea, there was a lot on the line for this one race.
Well as always, at the San Felipe race we learned some lessons. We came back to the shop and made a bunch of changes to the car and our shocks. We are always learning and trying to be better and on top of the game.
We got everything done and buttoned up in time. So we spent the day Wednesday loading up the 2 chase trucks, the trailers, the race car and the pre runner for the Poker Run. We headed out Thursday morning early. We made it to Laughlin around noon and checked into our rooms. Friday would be a busy day with the Poker Run in the morning “IE a chance to pre run the race course and see what we are in for”. The course seemed great, actually too good, it was smooth and fast but we could tell it would be dusty.
When we got done with that we had some lunch, unloaded the race car and headed to tech inspection and contingency. We had no problems while driving thru tech and I got to spend a few minutes talking to Larry Ragland and Larry Roeseler. These two guys have won so many off road races! It is crazy, I’m sure they know Baja Mexico better than the locals in Mexico! Yah, it was the highlight of my day!
So next is the drivers meeting where they go over the rules; tell you to pick up your own trash; no drinking in the pits and fun stuff like that. It lasts about an hour and afterwards there is a kickoff party at Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho (The Drunk Donkey) Restaurant. I am kind of hungry and thinking this is going to suck. I figure the restaurant fills up with people because of his TV show but damn, first came the chips and salsa and I have to say they are the best ever! Ok, ok, so how hard is it to screw up a basket of chips? Next I order the chicken fajitas; they had the best flavor ever and even the beans where tasty! So I’m saying next time I see one of his places I’ll be sure to stop in! Oh yah, race report not a Yelp review, sorry!
So race day is here, we are going to line up at 10am and are scheduled to start at 10:30. We are going to be lining up 15 cars in a row, without the engine running. When the flag drops, start the car and drop the hammer and go! I’m not a fan of it but nobody cares! If you want to race that’s how you start, so yep the flag drops and we are off!
We hit the first corner 5th in line going into the desert, not too shabby. We make our way around a few corners and BAM, no power steering. Now you have to understand, here is where testing a new aftermarket power steering unit, that if it worked, would have saved us five plus pounds on the car and if it worked right, that’s 5 lbs. we didn’t have to haul 1000s of miles thru the desert. But, it didn’t work right. I guess the simple truth of the matter is maybe I should just diet and lose 10 lbs., LOL. Anyway, the power steering deal pretty much cost us a podium finish! After it quit working, the stress on the mount pulled the treads out of the 4 mounting bolts. So then the unit hung down in front of the brake pedal for the next 150 miles! At one time we had to stop and hook our steering shaft back together as the weight of the unit hanging down pulled it apart.
Well anyway, first lap is done and we are maybe a ½ mile behind the race leader. We are tearing up the race course and my arms are burning, hands are already sore, but we hang in there and second lap is down. We can see we gained a couple hundred feet on the leader going into the third lap. It was all the same things and as we are pounding thru the ‘Fox Proving Grounds’ the steering shaft pulls apart and we have to stop. Boner gets it bolted back up and finds one of the bolts on the floor for the motor. He gets it bolted up again so it is not hanging in front of the “all important” brake pedal. While we are messing with this we get passed by, uhh, I don’t know… 4, 5, maybe 6 cars! We get back to racing again and start passing people back. We don’t know where we are but at one point our crew tells us 5th place again, so we are making up lost time when all of a sudden the power steering motor that was being held on by one bolt comes loose again. So we make the call to pull into the pits and try and fix it. After a few minutes and no luck, because all the threads are stripped out of the unit we charge back onto the course. On our 8th lap thru the ‘Fox Proving Grounds’, BIG whoops, BIG holes, and we are just flying thru it all thanks to my Fox Shocks. Well, we clip a rock and shear off 15 or so of our titanium bead lock bolts. The tire goes flat in an instant! I pull over and my navigator jumps out and changes the flat in no time! We are back in the race and charging hard for the next racer in front of us! Do you remember that ‘nice, smooth, fast race course’ I was telling you about? Well it was gone. I could not believe how tore up the track had gotten after 61 UTV’s went around it 8 or 9 times. We were still getting with it and passing people back. When we finally pulled up to the finish line in we were sitting in 4th place. Not too bad for all the problems we had but hey, that’s racing. My Baja Co Driver Branden Sims took first place and won the Polaris RZR 1000. Congrats to him and everybody that took on the 1st ever UTV World Championship!
I would like to thank: Polaris Industries, Best in the Desert, Martelli Brothers, Joey D, UTVinc.com for the Awesome Race Chassis Build, Fox Shox, Lone Star Racing Suspension, Method Race Wheels, ITP Tires, Wolf Designs, PCI Radios and everyone who had a hand in helping with our race program and this event!