Words by Lucas Oil Off Road
Photos and Video by Prerunner Maniac
Nighttime off-road racing is back in southern California, as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, presented by GEICO, makes its triumphant return to the legendary Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino. This is the home of off-road racing, and the once-a-year excitement of a packed house enjoying the balmy summer night and the hot action on the track make this race a fan favorite. With expectations high, the drivers didn’t disappoint, as they put on a performance that will keep those who played witness talking for a week. In case you missed it, read on to find out what so many got to enjoy.
Junior 2 Kart
With the sun already dropping nicely behind the mountains to the west, it was the young drivers of Junior 2 Kart who came out on track first. Brock Heger and Myles Cheek started up front, with Heger leading Cheek, Chad Graham, Maxwell Ries, and Hailie Deegan after the first lap. A battle for the lead between Heger and Cheek quickly emerged, with Cheek taking over the top spot following a nice dive past Heger into turn four on the second lap. These two were soon pulling clear of the field, while just behind, a five-kart train was locked in a close race for third through seventh places. After several laps of nose-to-tail running, Preston Roben was finally able to make a move, jumping up to fifth in his #414 DCI Duggins Construction/Ultra Custom Boats truck. At the competition yellow, the running order up front was still Cheek in the #457 CMI/Streight Edje machine, Heger in the #411 Hoosier/Team Associated entry, Graham in the #410 MavTV/Hart and Huntington truck, Ries in the #474 McQueen Prototype Design/ProAm kart, and Roben in the top five. These drivers held their positions following the return to green, but a lap later, Ries suddenly slowed and pulled off, moving Roben to fourth and Deegan back to fifth in her #438 Metal Mulisha/4 Wheel Parts truck. A couple of laps later, Graham dropped down to eighth after spinning out in the whoops, moving Deegan to fourth and Paige Porter to fifth in the #462 Redline Performance/Advantage Boats entry. From there on in, the running order in the top five went unchanged, and it was Cheek who got the win, his fourth of the season. Heger finished second, with Roben rounding out the podium in third, Deegan fourth, and Porter fifth.
Junior 1 Kart
Next up were the youngest drivers, those of Junior 1 Kart. Broc Dickerson took full advantage of his pole starting position to move straight into the lead in his #223 Dickerson Motorsports/KarTek truck, ahead of Wolfgang Ries, Darren Hardesty, Dean Duro, and Eliott Watson. On lap two, Hardesty rolled upon entering the whoops section, and with nowhere to go, Watson ran right into Hardesty’s wreck. A red flag was then thrown following a wreck that caught out Tyler Stephensen and others, and though Stephensen was out of the race, he did seem to be ok, and racing soon resumed. The running order was now Dickerson, Ries, Duro, Cole Dexheimer, and Dylan Winbury in the top five, and these five held their positions on the restart lap. However, another rollover on that lap forced another full course caution, and on the ensuing restart, Duro’s machine slowed, forcing him to the sidelines. This moved Travis PeCoy to second, Dexheimer to third, Corey Geiser to fourth, and Bryce McDaniel to fifth, and from there on in, the top five went unchanged. Dickerson kept his nose clean to get the win, with PeCoy second in the #211 K&N/Racer X Motorsports kart, Dexheimer third in the #226 KarTek/King Off Road Racing Shocks machine, Geiser fourth in the #245 CANIDAE/BulletProofDiesel.com entry, and McDaniel fifth in the #225 Metal Mulisha/RSC Equipment Rental truck.
The action now moved to the full-length track as the UTVs emerged on track. With both the SR1 and Unlimited UTV classes again running together, it looked like it would be a great race between the two classes, as each had a representative starting from row one. Ryan Beat’s #851 Hart and Huntington/Black Rhino SR1 grabbed the lead over RJ Anderson’s Unlimited, with Corry Weller and Code Rahders also slotting in ahead of Anderson, while Dan Kelly was just behind in fifth. Kelly moved past Anderson on lap two, and shortly afterwards, a left front suspension failure on Weller’s machine forced her to the sidelines. Rahders had nowhere to go when Weller broke, and he got hooked his UTV hooked onto Weller for long enough to drop him all the way down to last place. This all meant that while Beat still led, it was now Kelly in second, Anderson third, Doug Mittag fourth, and John Dempsey fifth. On the restart lap, Mittag was forced to pull off with a mechanical issue, moving Rahders to fourth, with Dempsey still fifth. Rahders then picked up another spot as he took over third, and from there on in, the top five spots remained unchanged.
Standing on the podium, Beat said that he’d lost the motor on the final lap and was forced to “putt” to the finish line, but he was still good enough to grab the SR1 and overall wins. Second in SR1 and overall was Kelly in the #824 OffRoadMagnet.com/Xtreme Machine and Fabrication Yamaha, ahead of Rahders in the #816 K&N/Black Rhino Yamaha, who was third overall and third in SR1. Anderson got the Unlimited UTV win in his #637 Walker Evans Racing/South Point Polaris, finishing ahead of the #694 Deviate Films/Magnum Off Road Kawasaki of Tyler Winbury, and the #664 Monster Energy/Muzzys Kawasaki of Robert Vanbeekum.
A massive swarming beehive of a Limited Buggy field rolled out next, and was about to put on a great show as the day faded into night. Dave Mason grabbed the early lead in his #365 B&R Buggie/SR Performance AlumiCraft, with Curt Geer, Zac Hunt, Quentin Tucker, and Bradley Morris in hot pursuit. A brief full-course caution was thrown to allow crews to pull Kyle Lucas’ car off a barricade, and after the restart, Mason and Geer were still running first and second, with Sean Kennedy now third, Hunt fourth, and Geoffrey Cooley fifth. As a whole host of drivers jockeyed and crashed back and forth in a battle for third, Mason and Geer moved clear of the carnage in a close race for the lead. Following another full-course caution, this one for a rollover by Jeff Richards, the restart lap helped Tucker to move into third, with Hunt still fourth, and Bruce Fraley now fifth, as Mason and Geer still headed the field. The top two continued to battle, and after getting alongside Mason but failing to grab the lead, Geer made his move stick on the following lap, grabbing the lead after the briefest of contact coming out of turn two. Behind them, Hunt was now up to third in the #334 Speed Energy/BDI Bowden Development, Inc. AlumiCraft, while Fraley’s evening took a turn south as he rolled in turn two. Fraley’s misfortune moved Geoffrey Cooley up to fifth, and at the competition yellow, it was Geer in the #385 Green Army/Gatorwraps.com Lothringer, Mason, Hunt, Tucker in the #377 General Tire/Fox Racing Shox buggy, and Cooley in the #322 Competitive Metals/Fat Performance AlumiCraft running in the top five.
On the restart lap, Mason dropped several spots after going wide in turn two, with Hunt also falling back after he and Tucker got together between turns four and five, which sent Hunt off the track. Tucker didn’t get away without incident, either, as he looked to have a flattening left rear tire. Tucker did well to keep driving despite his malady, and managed to maintain his second place, while up ahead, Geer was free to fly to the victory, his third of the year. Tucker took second, with Mason third, Lindsay Geiser a very impressive fourth in the #395 CANIDAE/Geiser Bros Design and Development Geiser, and Morris fifth in the #304 Lucas Oil/K&N AlumiCraft.
Following a rousing edition of Opening Ceremonies, the future stars of short course off-road racing came out on track. In a first-time, very unique event, the Modified Karts took center stage in front of a packed house, with the entire field getting full driver introductions- they must have felt like rock stars! On the front row, it was defending champion Mitchell DeJong starting next to Modified Kart and Limited Buggy driver Bradley Morris, and it was the #1 Traxxas/Red Bull machine of DeJong who took the lead from the drop of the green flag. Slotting in behind DeJong was Mitch Guthrie Jr. in the #555 KarTek/Walker Evans Racing truck, Jerett Brooks in the #527 Synergy Electric Racing/Maxima Racing Oils entry, Morris in the #504 K&N/Kicker kart, and Kyle Hart in the #523 GearUp2Go.com/ Duncan Racing machine. Showing great maturity well beyond their years, all the top drivers held their spots despite maintaining a tremendous pace, and at the competition yellow, the running order in the top five was still the same. On the restart, a rollover forced a full course caution, and when the field took green again, Myles Cheek finally cracked into the top five by moving up to fifth in the #557 CMI/Lucas Oil kart. With a few drivers stopped on track, another full course caution was thrown, giving the track workers a chance to un-hook two drivers whose trucks were stuck together. Once the track was cleared, a green-white-checkers finish was called for, and for DeJong, there would be no option except victory. DeJong streaked away from those behind to open a comfortable cushion, and held off a hungry field through the checkers to pick up his fourth win of the season. Second went to Guthrie Jr., with Brooks taking third after holding off a hard-charging Morris in the final corner. Morris finished in fourth, and rounding out the top five was Cheek.
Pro 4 Unlimited
With all the stadium lights now shining bright, the monsters of Pro 4 Unlimited thundered out on track. After a six-position inversion of the qualifying results, it was Curt LeDuc and Greg Adler, filling in for the injured Travis Coyne, who started up front. Adler’s first foray into Pro 4 Unlimited started as well as it could have, as he took the early lead in his #5 ProComp/Lucas Oil Ford, ahead of Curt LeDuc in the #43 Rockstar/Makita Ford, Adrian Cenni in the #11 Atrium Payroll/Maxxis truck, Rick Huseman in the #36 Monster Energy/E3 Spark Plugs Toyota, and Todd LeDuc in the #4 Rockstar/Makita Ford. On lap four, Kyle LeDuc out-drove his brother Todd into turn three, moving up to fifth in his #99 Rockstar/Makita Ford. Ahead of them, Huseman also picked up a spot to take over third from Cenni. On the following lap, Huseman picked off Curt LeDuc to take over second, and on the lap after that, he easily out-charged Adler through the rhythm section, nosing ahead and into the lead into turn three. As Huseman began to quickly pull open a gap over the competition, Curt LeDuc’s truck suddenly slowed near the start/finish line, which caught out Cenni who rear-ended him before managing to get by. This allowed Kyle LeDuc to move into third, with Cenni now fourth and Todd LeDuc fifth. Huseman continued to pull away from those behind, and had a good gap over second-placed Adler by the competition yellow.
With the UTI Toyota pace truck picking up the field, Kyle LeDuc drove by and into the hot pits to fix a flat tire, dropping him to the back of the pack. At the restart, it was Huseman, Adler, Cenni, Todd LeDuc, and Carl Renezeder in the top five, with Adler getting shoved wide at turn two, dropping him back to fifth.
Huseman still held the lead, with a fierce battle for second going on just behind between Cenni and Renezeder. As Renezeder tried every move in his repertoire to get past Cenni, Huseman’s lead suddenly looked tenuous, as wisps of smoke began shooting intermittently from the back of his truck.
Cenni and Renezeder seemed to smell blood, and started to close the gap on the leader as the smoke began to come out in bigger puffs. Huseman kept his cool, though, and as the smoke output began to level off, his lead evened out as well. Behind him, Renezeder was still trying his best to grab second place, and on the final lap, he made a great outside-inside pass on Cenni through turn three to grab the spot, much to the delight of a packed house. Up ahead, Huseman got back to his winning ways after a very unusual (for him) four-race winless streak, as he picked up his fifth of the season. Renezeder came home second to keep a good lead in the points, with Cenni taking third, Todd LeDuc fourth, and Adler a fine fifth.
Pro Buggy Unlimited
The Pro Buggy Unlimited race was certainly a case of “it isn’t over ‘til it’s over.” Cody Freeman put his pole starting position to good use as he grabbed the early lead in his #2 Race Fuel Energy Drink/Wik’s Racing Engines Racer, with Justin Davis, Steven Greinke, Justin “Bean” Smith, and Jerry Whelchel in tow. In the early going, Smith tried to get by Greinke for third, and in the process, drove over Greinke’s right side tires, which sent Greinke to the hot pits for the rest of the race. Shortly after that, Smith got by Davis going into turn three, but the two got together and Smith spun, which drew a black flag penalty for Davis. The order up front was now Freeman, Whelchel in the #5 Select Glass/BFGoodrich Tires Foddrill, Doug Fortin in the #96 Fortin Racing, Inc./McGrath Fiberglass Racer, Smith in the #19 Competitive Metals/Metal Mulisha AlumiCraft, and Brandon Bailey in the #17 Stronghold Motorsports/Yokohama Tires AlumiCraft as the competition yellow came out. On the restart, a massive rollover by Eddie Tafoya forced a red flag of the race; Tafoya was ok, and his car was quickly moved to the infield, allowing racing to resume. The running order was still Freeman, Whelchel, Fortin, Smith, and Bailey, with Fortin then losing a spot to Smith after he went wide into turn three, leaving the door wide open for Smith to get by. Behind them, Bailey went into the hot pits, promoting Mike Porter to fifth in the #8 Redline Performance/Mickey Thompson AlumiCraft. The top four drivers were now running nose-to-tail, and some kind of incident seemed eminent. Just ahead of the white flag, that incident happened, as Whelchel, Smith, and Fortin piled up in turn four. Porter sped by and into second, with Fortin throwing it in reverse to get un-stuck and slot into third; Whelchel and Smith were less fortunate, losing several spots before finally getting moving again. Up ahead, Freeman drove a flawless race to lead wire to wire and pick up the win for the second consecutive race. Porter’s second place should move him into the lead in this class’ incredibly close points chase, while Fortin should now sit in second after finishing third. Fourth went to Malcolm Pointon, and rounding out the top five was Smith.
Pro Lite Unlimited
The Pro Lite Unlimiteds came out next, and it was Corey Sisler who turned his pole starting position into an early lead in his #19 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels Ford. Behind Sisler came Brian Deegan in the #38 Lucas Oil/Metal Mulisha Ford, Ryan Beat in the #51 Black Rhino/Fiberwerx Ford, Cameron Steele in the #16 Monster Energy/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, and Chris Brandt in the #82 Aero Motorsports/Oakley Toyota. Beat’s truck suddenly slowed, dropping him out of the top five, and moving Steele to third, Kyle LeDuc to fourth in the #99 Rockstar/Makita Ford, while Brandt remained fifth. Up front, Deegan was looking fast, and soon found his way by Sisler, driving right around him on the outside of turn three to grab the lead. Behind this, a series of mistakes by LeDuc meant that both Brandt and Rodrigo Ampudia were able to get by, picking up spots four and five. Steele was also on the move, picking off Sisler after a spin in turn four to move into second position. Ampudia was right behind Steele now, slotting into third in his #36 Papas & Beer/Tecate Ford, and by the competition yellow, Brandt had also gotten around Sisler for fourth.
The running order was Deegan, Steele, Ampudia, Brandt, and Sisler as the field returned to green, but as they raced into turn two on the restart, Steele and Ampudia got together, with Steele going around and dropping several spots. Ampudia drew a black flag for his part in the incident, and the top five was now made up of Deegan, Sisler, Brandt, Steele, and LeDuc.
From there on in, these drivers all held their places, and it was Deegan who went un-touched throughout the race to pick up his fifth win of the year. Sisler had a career-best finish of second, with Brandt rounding out the podium to maintain his record of finishing no worse than third in any race this season. Fourth went to Steele, with LeDuc finishing behind him in fifth.
Super Lite drew a massive field of 17 trucks to the start line tonight, and the race was made all the more exciting by the addition of AMA superstars Grant Langston and Ricky Dietrich, who both made their debut drives in Lucas Oil Off Road. On the opening lap, Dawson Kirchner came from row two on the starting grid to take the early lead in his #16 Torchmate/Speed Technologies truck, with Austin Kimbrell, Wyatt Kirchner, RJ Anderson, and Brent Fouch all in tow. The field was still bunched tightly as they roared into lap two, where Anderson suffered a big rollover into turn two, which forced him to the sidelines for the rest of the race and brought out a full course caution. Fouch also hit trouble, as his left front suspension gave out on him, ending his run. This moved Chad George to fourth in the #42 Yokohama/Kawasaki entry, with Jacob Person now fifth in the #92 Source Refrigeration and HVAC, Inc./Geiser Bros machine.
Once the track was cleared and racing resumed, it was Patrick Clark who moved up in his #25 BFGoodrich Tires/Method Race Wheels truck, taking over fifth on lap five. A second full course caution followed shortly afterwards, this time to clear rollovers by Wyatt Kirchner and Langston. The running order was Dawson Kirchner, Kimbrell, George, Clark, and Ryan Hagy in the #0X General Tire/Metal Mulisha entry as the green waved again. On the restart lap, George got into Kimbrell in turn four, causing both drivers to spin, and letting Ron Duncombe, Person, and Dietrich through for third, fourth, and fifth. Duncombe then rolled in turn two, just ahead of the competition yellow, where the running order was Dawson Kirchner, Clark, Person, Dietrich in the #39 Rockstar/General Tire machine, and Hagy in the top five.
These guys all held position on the restart, but a couple of laps later, Hagy was up to fourth after getting by Dietrich. On the next lap, George moved past both Dietrich and Hagy to grab fourth spot, and with one lap to go, was trying to hunt down Person for the final spot on the podium. George was successful in that quest, as he got around Person on the final lap to take third. Up ahead, Kirchner drove a masterful race, leading wire-to-wire for his second win of the season, with Clark taking second, George third, Person fourth, and Kimbrell fifth in the #88 Fiberwerx/Xtreme Machine and Fabrication truck.
Pro 2 Unlimited
The final race of the night was the highly-anticipated Pro 2 Unlimited fracas. Brian Deegan started on pole after a six-position inversion of the qualifying results, and rocketed into the early lead in his #38 Rockstar/Makita Ford. Rob Naughton ran second in the #54 ReadyLift/Stronghold Motorsports Ford, with Robby Woods third in the #99 Lucas Slick Mist/SuperChips Chevrolet, Rob MacCachren fourth in the #1 Rockstar/MasterCraft Safety Ford, and Jeremy McGrath fifth in the #2 Monster Energy/ReadyLift Ford. Woods was really looking quick in the early going, and got by Naughton on the inside at turn three to grab second on lap three.
Three laps later, Greg Adler moved his #10 4 Wheel Parts/Magnaflow Ford up to fifth, while at the head of the field, Deegan was starting to pull away, with Woods being the only driver who could hang with the leader’s pace. Deegan seemed to have control of the race, but as the field approached the halfway point, Woods suddenly drove deep into turn five to get by Deegan on the inside, grabbing the lead just ahead of the competition yellow. The running order was now Woods, Deegan, MacCachren, Naughton, and Adler, and a pile-up in turn two forced a red flag of the race just after the restart. Everyone was ok and the track was quickly cleared, with green flag racing quickly resuming.
Carl Renezeder moved up to fifth in the #17 Lucas Oil/Team Associated Ford, while up front, Deegan re-took the lead from Woods in turn four. Woods wasn’t having any of it, though, and got right back by in the next corner, with Deegan then dropping back two spots to fourth. Woods now led MacCachren, Naughton, Deegan, and Renezeder in the top five, and it was now MacCachren who was providing some real heat for Woods. MacCachren pulled alongside Woods on the front straight, setting himself up for the inside line into turn one and on into turn two, which he used perfectly to blow by Woods and into the lead. Behind all this, Rodrigo Ampudia had moved up to fifth in the #36 Lucas Oil/BFGoodrich Tires Ford, while Deegan had gotten by Naughton for third after jumping past him into turn five. Naughton grabbed the position right back, but then spun at turn two, dropping him to fifth. Up front, MacCachren was setting a blistering pace, and moved out to a comfortable margin over those behind on his way to his third win of the year. Woods finished second, with Deegan taking third, Ampudia fourth, and McGrath fifth.
That wraps up the evening’s events for Round 9 at Glen Helen.
About the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series:
The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series is the evolution of the long standing support of short course racing by Forrest Lucas and Lucas Oil Products. Steeped in the Midwest tradition of short course off road racing infused with a West Coast influence, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing brings intense four wheel door to door action to challenging, fan friendly tracks. Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series: This is Short Course. For more information please visit www.LucasOilOffRoad.com.
Written by Scott Neth for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series