UTV RALLY RAID
The UTV Rally Raid race program has grown rapidly, with strong fields at every event. Purpose-built race cars are allowed in some classes, but so far production-based units have taken most of the wins.
Another unique type of UTV racing has sprung up in the Southeast U.S. —the UTV Rally Raid, or UTVRR. So far there are two standalone series: one with several years of success at Stony Lonesome in Alabama, and one that is new for 2013 at Windrock Park in Tennessee. Each venue has its own championship for three distinct classes. Future plans are to have the grand champion based on a January race, combining the top 10 from each venue at a neutral site.
Racers may include a passenger, either as a co-driver or a navigator. If the passenger is signed up as a navigator, they may not drive the car.
The SxS/UTV race series runs timed-start, four-hour endurance races over an eight-mile course. Over half of each race is run in the dark, and the start times are adjusted for to take place one hour and 30 minutes before sunset. Drivers can either choose to race solo or with a second driver, or with two cars and two drivers. Each car can carry one navigator, but the navigator may not drive. Each venue hosts 10 races a year. Racers leave in pairs at 30- or 45-second intervals depending on dust conditions.
RULES AND RACE FORMAT
Since the events start shortly before sunset, a minimum of half the race is run in the dark. That has prompted companies like Vision X to jump on board as sponsors.
QR1 is the top class where the sky is the limit as far as modifications go—alcohol, nitromethane, race fuel, turbos, superchargers, motorcycle or snowmobile engines, etc., as long as you stay under 1450cc. There are no travel or drivetrain restrictions, and max width is a whopping 74 inches. Naturally, there are plenty of safety regulations, such as use of stock or modified roll cages, doors or nets, a fire extinguisher, horn, taillights and headlights, etc. must be installed.
QR2 is an intermediate-level class for vehicles over 800cc. External intake and exhaust mods are allowed, but no internal engine modifications. The max width is 68 inches. Long-travel suspension, aftermarket shocks and altered shock locations are permitted.
We were a little surprised that the relatively economical QR3 that allows no engine modifications is the smallest class. The basically unlimited QR1 class is usually the largest.
QR3 is essentially a stock class for machines 800cc and under. There are no engine or drivetrain modifications allowed, and the use of pump gasoline is mandated. Lift kits, suspension mods and boxed control arms are legal, but travel must remain stock. Maximum width is limited to 68 inches. All safety equipment and vehicle-protection mods are allowed, and there are minimum requirements. There is no limit on lighting for any class. In fact, Vision X Lighting is a major contingency sponsor for the series, as is Can-Am and Pro Armor and Innovative Off-Road.
The courses for Stony Lonesome and Windrock Park are designed to let the racers get their speed up. They don’t beat the cars like some race series do, but care is still needed to finish a four-hour race.
Stony Lonesome (SL) is a 1456-acre county park open to the public and the first of its type in Alabama. SL helped design a custom UTV course, but only some of the UTVRR course route is exclusive. The rest negotiates a combination of existing, open trails and course-specific trails. The park is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday, but on race days, the trail system shuts down at around 1 p.m. to prepare for the race. There are four-person cabins available for rent, and camping is available. Stony Lonesome OHV Park is located at 10075 Al Highway 69 S, Bremen, AL 35033. Contact them at (256) 287-1133 or www.stonylonesomeohv.us.
Both series locations offer camping and cabin rentals. Windrock Park, being larger than Stony Lonesome, has a larger campground with RV hook-ups and many primitive camping spots.
Windrock Park, formerly known as Coal Creek, is a 72,000-acre private off-road park with 300-plus miles of marked trails. It is open 365 days a year, but a land-use permit is required to enter the property. After the Windrock folks visited a UTVRR race at Stony Lonesome, they offered to build a complete custom track used only for UTVRR events. WP also constructed routes for spectators that don’t interfere with the track itself. The Windrock Park spring and fall jamborees host upwards of 5000 off-road riding enthusiasts each spring and fall. There is a 259-acre campground, with four deluxe two-bedroom cabins, 10 smaller cabins with double-bunk beds, and 39 RV sites with full hookups. There are also more than 75 primitive camping sites. WP is located at 555 Windrock Park Lane, Oliver Springs, TN 37840. Contact them at (865) 435-1251 or www.windrockpark .com.
MEN AT THE TOP
Scoring is electronic, and that is critical since the rally format starts two vehicles every 30 to 45 seconds. The timing results go out live via the web, so each team knows where they stand.
When you make a phone call to a UTV race promoter with events in Alabama and Tennessee, the last thing you expect is an English accent. Brothers Jason and Matt Halls were professional motorcycle riders who ferried dispatches via motorcycle through the narrow roads and epic congestion of their native England. President and owner Jason Halls moved to the U.S. seven years ago, joining Matt who has been in the States 17 years. Jason is the entrepreneurial one, and he got the UTV bug when he bought a RZR. Both brothers are huge fans of European rally racing, and Jason was determined to build a series to endurance-race his RZR. While Jason has the business sense, the company got rolling when marketing and PR specialist Matt joined the team. A third key member of the program is Mike Brown. Brown was a racer in UTVRR’s first year, and he wanted to join the team. He handles all technical details of the series.
For more information on the series and a detailed rules structure, go to www.utvrallyraid.com or call (855) 478-2688.
2013 UTVRR RACE DATES
Windrock Park TN Stony Lonesome, AL
May 11th May 18th
June 8th June 22nd
July 6th July 20th
September 7th September 21st
October 5th October 19th
November 9th November 23rd
December 7th December 14th