The 2010 Whiplash Racing Pro-Mod champions Brian Bush of Rotax Your Rhino, and co-driver Greg Frantz of Lonestar Racing, take home a third place finish in their first running of the King Of The Hammers!
In 2010, Brian decided that he, and Lonestar Racing had molded his 2006 Yamaha Rhino into a machine that could not only finish what has been described as the toughest off-road race in the world, but he believed he could race with the leaders (the who’s who of UTV racing), and finish in the front of the pack. Unfortunately, he runs a Rotax V-twin engine, and was ineligible due to the fact that this particular engine was never offered in a UTV from the factory.
July 1, 2010, Can-Am released the all new Can-Am Commander which comes stock with the same popular engine that Brian, and many others currently run in their outdated Yamaha Rhino’s. Brian’s first reaction to this news was that he would be in contention to enter the 2011 running of the King of the Hammers!
The team ran the Whiplash Offroad Racing Series in 2010, and did surprisingly well for their first entry into an entire race series. The Pro-Mod championship was theirs for the taking. The car that Brian built only had 1 part failure during the whole series, causing their only DNF for the season. (Wheel studs)
When it came time to prepare for KOH, there wasn’t too much to do to the car. Brian installed a set of 3/8” UHMW skid plates from Factory UTV, a Quickshot spare tire and jack mount from Pro-Armor, a set of Pitbull Rocker 26.5” tires, a second battery and bracket from Rhino Parts and Performance, and a hand-me-down winch from his friends at Freedom RV in Tucson.
The two didn’t have time to get to Hammer Town early enough to pre-run the race course. Because of this they were quite nervous and spent most of the night before the race worrying, and reading race course maps and strategizing the run. “I must say that the course markers were clear and well laid out. Thanks to Reid Nordin for the time he invested in this”
The morning of the race was a frigid one. Some were reporting temperatures under 30 degrees. Brian and Greg made their way to the starting line and were placed in 16th position out of 18. Once they were rolling, and nerves were settling, Brian began to get a feel for his taller ride height, larger tires, and no sway bar. By the first technical section they had passed two or three cars and were making their way over the first obstacle when they encountered stopped race traffic and a race car blocking the course. At this point Greg exited the vehicle to assist the stuck racer. During this time, Brian shifted the car into reverse and immediately felt the shifter linkage break. With some quick thinking, he was able to remove a portion of the engine cover and discovered he could shift the transmission by reaching into the engine compartment. By the time Greg was back to the car, at least five minutes had passed and the stuck race car was still blocking the course. Greg scouted an alternate route down and around the stopped traffic. Once the team made it down the mountain and into the valley, Brian put his foot in it and didn’t look back.
Save for the broken shifter, the LSR XTR-F suspended Rhino was working flawlessly and they were able to take on some of the biggest whoops and ruts they had ever seen. Not much was slowing them down. When they made their way into the first named rock section called “Elvis”, there were a number of stuck, and/or slow moving vehicles blocking the course. Again, Greg got out to assist those drivers through this section. What took probably only five minutes felt like an eternity to Brian who was as patient as could be. Once these vehicles were moved, Brian quickly made his way down through the rock section with Greg spotting him.
Once back at race speed, Brian was driving as if he was going to win this race. They had no idea where they stood, but assumed it was towards the front of the pack as they had already passed a handful of cars, and some that were broken on the side of the course.
When they reached the second named rock section, “Aftershock” they immediately knew that this section was going to be the “make or break” part of the course. After rounding the first corner they were greeted with an excited audience that was cheering them on. While running this section, Greg was out of the car spotting for lines. Sometime during this section a number of spectators told Greg that our team was running in first place. Once through the section Greg reentered the race car and told Brian what he had just heard. Neither of them could believe that they were in first place as they knew that they hadn’t passed 15 cars. At any rate, this news was enough to excite the two into believing that they would not only finish this race, but finish on the podium. Nervously, Brian once again put his foot in it as to not allow any other racers to catch up. This was met with some resistance from Greg as he wasn’t going to allow Brian to throw it away due to his excitement. There were a few “boulders” that Brian hit so hard the car became partially airborne. “We can’t say enough good things about Factory UTV’s UHMW skid plates.”
Once the team made it over the last pass and had a view into Hammer Town, they slowed down for a moment to look for traffic up front, and behind. There was no sign of any traffic in either direction, and the team still didn’t know for sure whether they were in the lead or not. What they did know, was that there was nobody behind them for miles.
The last three or so miles was a heavily whooped out downhill sand section with the opportunity to open the car up, and put Lonestar Racing’s XTR-F suspension to the test. Brian set the cruise control around 55 mph through this section as it was obvious that we could have gone much faster, but doing so was risking throwing the race away and they were running low on fuel. When the two made it to the “Green”? flag, they were told it was the finish line and that they had placed third!
“This race was by far the best racing experience of my life! There is nothing cooler than high speed desert racing mixed with some of the most demanding and technical rock crawling that a UTV has ever encountered. I have done my share of rock crawling in UTV’s, but never under race conditions. This alone makes for an adrenaline rush like no other! Also, the fact that we’re able to race our UTV’s at what is likely the biggest off-road race in the country, makes it all that much cooler.
I would like to thank my co-driver Greg Frantz for being flat out awesome! He’s a level headed guy with the skills and patience to put up with me, and help guide me along the way. I wish you guys could hear our PCI intercom chatter. We’re quite hilarious. We’re either scared silent, arguing about something, or joking and laughing our ass’ off while we race! I wouldn’t have had the successes that I’ve had in off-road racing if it wasn’t for him. You rock G.”