King Shocks Area BFE Beatdown: Team Nitto Sweeps the Podium at First Ultra4 Regional Race of 2021
The battle is on every time Ultra4 Racing hits the road, and this past weekend was no different as the organization behind King of the Hammers started their 2021 regional season out in Moab, Utah. Kicked off at the tail-end of this year's Easter Jeep Safari, great weather and over 100 racers, including big names like the Campbell and Gomez Brothers crews, Loren Healey and Vaughn Gittin Jr. of Team Fun-Haver, and other Nitto standouts like Cody Addington, Paul Horschel and Bailey Cole, made for an amazing weekend of wheel-to-wheel racing at the King Shocks Area BFE Beatdown!
The first event of the 2021 Ultra4 Western Series, the King Shocks Area BFE Beatdown, was held April 1st through the 3rd at Area BFE, a well-known, privately-owned property just south of Moab, Utah that offers 625 acres of off-road adventure. While Ultra4 raced on the property last September, this year's course took on some different obstacles for a 6-mile loop through sand washes, gnarly rocks and sharp 180s.
After a full day of pre-running, qualifying kicked off at 4pm MST on Friday, April 2nd, starting with the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class. One of the bigger showings for the class among regional races, ten competitors hit the 1/2-mile qualifying course with brothers Sean and Brian McNamera securing the pole position with a 1-minute, 46.890-second lap time. Coming in behind the McNameras were Albert Contreras with a 2-minute, 1.510-second lap time, and Josh Attebury with a 2-minute, 2.434-second lap time to round out the top three. Team Nitto driver John Snell qualified sixth, with a 2-minute, 32.019-second lap time.
Next up was the Can-Am 4900 UTV Class, which saw Joshua Smith, Scott Lesage and Trey McKinley take the top three with lap times under 1 minute and 12 seconds. Then the Yukon 4500 Modified Class hit the course with Dan Fresh taking pole position with a 1-minute, 19.931-second lap time, followed closely by Rick Lavezzo with a 1-minute, 22.451-second lap time, and John Mathews with a 1-minute, 25.402-second lap time.
Lap times only decreased as the evening went on, and when the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends class hit the qualifying course, top competitors finished in blazing fast fashion. Securing the pole position was Cody Young with a 1-minute, 7.232-second lap time, followed by Logan Goodall seven seconds behind and Nitto driver Brent Harell chopping at Goodall's heels with a lap time just .041-seconds slower. Nitto driver, John Hultsman, qualified 15th with a lap time of just over 1 minute and 30 seconds. Unfortunately, fan favorite and Team Nitto driver, Cade Rodd, was unable to qualify due to transmission issues, pushing him to a rear-start for Saturday's race.
When it came time for the Unlimited 4400 Class racers to hit the course, spectators and course marshals alike were prepared to see sub-1 minute qualifying times. Team Nitto driver Bailey Cole didn't disappoint, nearly hitting that mark with a pole position-securing run of 1 minute and 4.486 seconds. Second place went to Dan Wyrick with a 1-minute, 4.529-second lap, while third went to Cody Addington with a 1-minute, 5.172-second lap time. Out of 38 drivers, 13 Nitto drivers took top 25 positions in qualifying with under 1-minute and 16-second lap times. Unfortunately, Marcos Gomez was not in that group, solidifying a rear start when he hit a rock wrong just two turns into the qualifying course and put his car on its side.
With the qualifying positions set, a full day of racing started at 8am MST on Saturday, April 3rd with the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class getting the first go at the 6-mile main course. With three laps to complete, Stock Class competitors faced around 18 miles of tough terrain, including the notorious Lower Helderado trail on lap three.
Often referred to as the slowest class of the Ultra4 classes, the Stock Class proved small but mighty as top racers completed the race in under two hours. When all was said and done, Justin Reece took top honors with an elapsed time of 1 hour, 39 minutes, and 35.090 seconds. Second place went to Sean McNamera while third went to Twitchy McGee. Nitto driver John Snell finished fourth overall with a completion time of 1 hour, 51 minutes, and 3.144 seconds.
Next to take on the course was the Can-Am 4900 UTV Class, with four laps between the start and finish. Though Joshua Smith started the day off in pole position, he wasn't able to maintain his front-running position, allowing Mark Welch and Jacob Versey to squeak by for first and second-place finishes. Welch completed the race in 1 hour, 34 minutes and 41.258 seconds, while Versey secured second with a 1-hour, 37-minute, and 56.827-second elapsed time. Smith finished third with a close 1-hour, 38-minute, and 13.460-second elapsed time.
Running together, the Yukon 4500 Modified Class and the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends Class was up after all the UTVs had been cleared of the course, with each class having to do five laps for a total of 30 miles. Modified Class driver Dan Fresh led the charge right out of the gate and was impressively able to put down five laps in just 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 57.975 seconds, a major lead to second-place finisher John Mathews' three laps in 1 hour, 50 minutes, and 5.111 seconds. Taking up third was John Grounds with a 3-lap time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 1.544 seconds.
In the Legends class, Cody Young, who had secured the pole position during qualifying, was able to maintain his class lead throughout the race, finishing in first with a completion time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 14.896 seconds. Not far behind him, however, was David Hartman, who moved up from fifth off the line to a second-place finisher with a race time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 6.7 seconds. Logan Goodall came in third with a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 20.808 seconds.
Nitto driver Brent Harrell came in fourth with a 2-hour, 41-minute, and 23.499-second elapsed time, while fellow Nitto driver John Hultsman came in sixth, having completed four of the class's five laps. Cade Rodd saw more trouble on Saturday, breaking down after completing just three laps, putting him in 17th place overall when the race was over.
Last up was the Unlimited 4400 Class. When it came to the “big guys,” it was Bailey Cole first off the line after putting down an impressive pole-winning run the day before. Following him out the gate was Dan Wyrick and fellow Team Nitto driver Cody Addington.
With eight laps of tricky terrain to conquer, stakes were high and competition was tough. Having started in 13th position, Nitto driver Bryan Crofts quickly put down impressive lap after lap, following Cole at a blazing pace and passing fellow competitors to the front of the pack.
Right behind him, the Gomez Brothers showed their power with three from the team steadily moving up the ranks.
When all eight laps were finished and over 40 miles had been covered by the top of the field, it was anyone's guess as to who had taken the top three. Physically, Cole crossed the finish line first, followed closely by Crofts, Darrian Gomez, JP Gomez, Jason Scherer, and Raul Gomez.
Results were within seconds, coming down to crunching the numbers before official results could be revealed. Additionally, there was a red card filed on front-runner, Bailey Cole, which also took time to investigate.
While Cole had come in physically first, as well as first on elapsed time, investigation behind the red card filing determined Cole had deviated off course, causing his sixth lap to not count towards his score, per the red card policy within the organization. Cole was pushed back to 22nd place, leaving room for Crofts to move up to the top of the podium.
Following him in seven minutes later was new-comer to the 4400 Class, fellow Team Nitto driver Darian Gomez, son of Raul Gomez of Gomez Brothers Racing. Just 14 seconds behind him on corrected time, JP Gomez rounded out the top three, making for another Nitto Tire sweep of the podium!
Main Race Results:
Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class (3 laps with Lower Helderado on last lap)
- Justin Reece – 1:39:35.090
- Sean Mcnamera – 1:42:03.667
- Twitchy McGee – 1:48:56.767
Can-Am 4900 UTV Class (4 laps)
- Mark Welch – 1:34:41.258
- Jacob Versey – 1:37:56.827
- Joshua Smith – 1:38:13.460
Yukon 4500 Modified Class (5 laps)
- Dan Fresh – 2:25:57.975 (5 laps)
- John Mathews – 1:50:05.111 (3 laps)
- John Grounds – 2:06:01.544 (3 laps)
Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends Class (5 laps)
- Cody Young – 2:26:14.896
- David Hartman – 2:27.06.700
- Logan Goodall – 2:31:20.808
Unlimited 4400 Class (8 laps)
- Bryan Crofts – 3:07:26.742
- Darian Gomez – 3:14:10.416
- JP Gomez – 3:14:24.478
- Jason Scherer – 3:14:44.215
- Raul Gomez – 3:14:56.491
- Shannon Campbell – 3:16:16.702
- Bailey Campbell/Ryan Miller – 3:18:28.399
- Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 3:23:23.924
- Tad Dowker – 3:28:08.396
- Jason Blanton – 3:32:19.182