2023 Ultra4 Racing Debuts at the Famous Reading Outdoors Off-Road Park in PA
For the first time ever, Ultra4 raced at the Famous Reading Outdoors off-road park located on the edge of Pottsville, PA. The park had lots of rocks, and some open runs, but mostly woods and dangerously high heat—plus rain. On race day, with a huge storm on the horizon, drivers were notified that if rain did hit, changes would happen to the nearly 11-mile long course.
The biggest example of that was on Saturday when Eric Miller's car broke down, he hopped out and began helping others winch though the extreme heat and rain storm, the King of Hammers Champion ran up and down the hill hooking up winch lines and kept racing moving and the flow smooth for hours until the race was over.
Nitto Superstar Paul Wolff gained 7 points by setting a super fast time and making the pole position. Unfortunately after physically leading the entire race he would be knocked out on the last lap by a faulty alternator. Watching his crew ratchet strap a battery to the top of the car and run jumper cables to get him to the finish line so he could get a few points for crossing the line to start the lap was very smart.
And speaking of qualifying, Casey Gilbert put on one of the wildest shows with a monster truck freestyle type run while trying to push the rig as hard as possible.
With the 3pm start the cars would leave the line in pairs every 30 seconds, until the racers were all on the course. Buggies could be heard roaring through the woods like bears sprinting but couldn't be seen from the pits, only witnessed by camera men and media staff.
One of the worst things that can happen to a racer is breaking down, especially where everyone can see. The worst place to have that happen is on the starting line, which was the case of Todd Dalker, when his accelerator cable broke, but like any good Ultra4 racer he hopped out and ran to the pits and returned with a replacement, quickly tore the hood off and fixed the car. He continued the race even being a little behind he battled hard, there is sometimes a trusty part that finally gives up and other times it's a brand new bolt that fails.
Mile marker 4 had a lot of rocks that were large in size (washing machine size) and they were piled loosely and created havoc for all sorts of racers like that of Chris Blanton in the USD Sticker IFS Car who was not alone in backing up multiple times, however did manage to hit a tree and bring it come crashing down on live television, an action packed first lap was on. However once he made it out of the way you could clearly see the right rear tire was flat and caused all kinds of problems which led to Chris blasting through the rocks and dirt, leaving ruts and a tire, and wadding up with 4 cars stacking up behind him where all drivers were set on getting out in front.
The Joker line is a special section of the course that all drivers must take once and only once. It is usually a much harder section of the race course and due to the difficulty it can change greatly, sometimes for the better, or sometimes it can get much, much harder. Which was the case for the course at PA this weekend, It was definitely harder due to the mud, and dirt, and the rain, plus the other cars that stacked up because they were stuck or broken.
As drivers raced into the Joker line you could see them within eye shot of each other, the top 3 finishers battling it out, including the Nitto Trail Grappler tire equipped cars of Josh Blyler and Rusty Blyler. If that doesn't play havoc on your need to push the car harder and throw the plan out the window I don't know what would. And mind you, all of this so far was just on the first lap out.
Jody Ford, a huge part of Team Indiana, was there in this 4400 car making his pro class debut, as he has raced UTV and different big car classes. He was blasting though the woods at full speed coming into the pits with 2 flats on the first lap alone, he was hard charging all throughout the day and with a home park of Badlands with a heavy woods course he felt right at home. Jody finished 4th that day and took 2nd in the UTV class, and his daughter also took 3rd in the youth class.
And in true Ultra4 fashion, the most action-packed part of the day was at the end of the race when the last lap was starting to begin. Phillip McGilton crossed the line to start his last lap, he was not only the new physical leader, but also winning.
The Last Lap
Phillip, and girlfriend Amanda, opted to have good friend Brian McVay co-drive the car because he had more experience with winching, a decision that was made the morning of the races. Phillip had a good idea of where the winching would happen if the need would arise because he co-drove for Jeff Donda in the UTV class the day before and not once did they pull the cable.
“I knew attrition was going to be a problem so keeping a great pace was super important, just stick to the strategy and be consistent” Said McGilton, he was clear about his plan and man did it work, tons of cars were broken on the track and lap traffic became a problem for everyone, but finishing just 17 seconds ahead of 2nd place, was all he needed.
Phillip and Amanda Ross are committed to racing the whole season, which would gives you a good amount of seat time and makes you very comfortable with car and clearly it is paying off for them, however you can never plan for everything like when the rain storm moved in and he lost all communication with the pits and his co driver, but Brain hearing that they had a chance to win starting pointing, making hand motions, and even hitting Phil to keep going faster and to push the car, leading to a top spot on the podium.
2023 Ultra4 Famous Reading Outdoors Race Results
UTV STOCK PRODUCTION
1.) Aaron Lynch
2.) Jody Ford
3.) Nate Parker
UTV PRO MODIFIED
1.) Hunter Miller
2.) Brain Stone
3.) John Seaman
1.) Jeff Donda
2.) Brandon Minick
3.) Cody Quattlebaum
1.) Sergio Pinillos
2.) John Loesche
3.) Doug Langford
1.) Jesse Oliver
2.) Kim Matzen
3.) Cody St. Clair
1.) Ryan Taylor
2.) Justin Barth
3.) Brain Trempe
1.) Phillip McGilton
2.) Josh Blyler
3.) Rusty Blyler