Hot Springs, AR: The 4WD Hardware ULTRA4 Eastern Regional Series came to a finale last weekend at the RCV ULTRA4Race at Superlift ORV Park in Hot Springs AR. 2010 King of the Hammers winner, Loren Healy started the race in the pole position after qualifying first on Friday and never looked back. Healy had not planned on racing in Arkansas, however, after experiencing DNFs in Indiana and Utah, he made the decision to make the trek to Arkansas.
ATX Wheels and Nitto Tire team driver, Healy decided to run the race in his newly re-acquired three-year old straight axle ULTRA4 car and opted to leave his independent front suspension (IFS) ULTRA4 car at home. He had this to say about the car choice, “After Indiana we knew that our big IFS desert car was far from the ideal choice for woods racing on the east coast.” The strategic decision to swap cars proved a wise move for Healy. The course in Arkansas was tight, technical and tree-lined with little room for passing, so qualifying at the front of the pack meant he never saw another vehicle until lap 3 when he began lapping slower vehicles.
Healy finished the race more than four and a half minutes ahead of second place. Clay Gilstrap maintained a solid 2nd place position until the 3rd lap when Nitto Tire driver, Derek West managed to make his way up from a 22nd starting position. At the end of lap 3, West had 30 seconds on Gilstrap. Going into the final lap, Gilstrap’s crew made him aware of West’s lead and Gilstrap kicked it up a notch. Fearing he only had seconds to spare, Gilstrap came in hot across the finish hoping he had made up enough time reclaim 2nd place. Having started the race 9 minutes ahead of West, Gilstrap waited at the finish line for West to cross hoping he had beaten him on corrected time. Ultimately, Healy took 1st, Gilstrap 2nd and West took 3rd finishing less than 3 minutes behind Gilstrap on corrected time.
More than half the cars that started the race managed to finish what proved to be a brutal four laps around the Superlift ORV Park. Only 7 of the 18 drivers who finished had not already qualified for the 2014 Griffin King of The Hammers presented by Nitto Tire. All seven finishers earned qualifying spots. Below is a complete list of finishers and those that qualified. Of the 18 cars that finished the race, 13 went on to compete in the Rock Bouncer vs. ULTRA4 shootout less than an hour later. Click here read more about the shootout.
The final race in the 2013 ULTRA4 Series will be the Nitto Tire National Championship race, to be held September 27th on Moapa Indian Reservation Land just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. All the top drivers from both the Trail-Gear Western Regional Series and the 4WD Hardware Eastern Regional Series are expected to be in attendance and the terrain is expected to be similar to that of King of The Hammers.
Photo by: Thom Kingston of SpiderTrax