|Shannon Campbell smoked the competition, and he nearly took out the author's camera here.|
For the first time in the Western Division, the Xtreme Rock Racing Association (XRRA) debuted its two-day racing format. Teams were challenged both Saturday and Sunday to compete in stand-alone events each day. The new format forced teams who hoped to be competitive to lay out more of a gameplan than in previous years. If they were to have a race-ready car on Sunday, they would have to be somewhat conservative on Saturday or spend the night wrenching to get prepared for the next day’s event.
|RAM Off-Road Park owner Ray Mandell taking the large gap jump with ease.|
For some, that strategy went out the window once they were strapped in and the starting light went green. Several teams burned the midnight oil prepping and fixing damaged cars from the day’s unforgiving gap jumps and rock sections. Having the event at RAM Off-Road Park, owned by fellow competitor Ray Mandel (who also owns the adjacent auto salvage yard), proved to be a big plus for many teams needing replacement parts.
|Plagued by bad luck and part failure, Rick Deremo was unable to make up the 3 second spread Campbell held over him.|
|Jason Pickett goes end over end on his last lap of the day on Saturday.|
Jason Pickett, of team Terminal Velocity, had a day every driver can’t soon enough forget. When the only thing you can count on is adversity, the day couldn’t end soon enough for the talented driver who is now competing in his fourth year. A rollover during his first heat and an event-ending crash on his last lap took him out of contention for Saturday’s race.
Sunday, however, brought a new day and a new car. Longtime friend and last year’s XRRA series champ, Aaron Dusenbery, offered up his proven single-seat car.
With the evening spent driving to get the car known as “Lil Bastard” and a good portion of the night prepping the car that hasn’t even seen a trail since last year’s Cortez race, Pickett was able to get in a little test drive just minutes before the driver’s meeting, where he learned he drew first in the starting order.
|Jason Pickett looked pretty comfortable in a single-seat car after crashing on Saturday.|
Out of the gate it didn’t take long for Pickett to get used to the smaller car, and soon he had it whipping around the track like he had driven it for years. “I have never driven a single-seat car,” Pickett said. “But I can see why they (Team Carnage Crew) are the reigning champs. I asked Aaron if we did ‘Lil Bastard’ proud. He just smile and said, ‘Oh yeah!’”
|Levi Shirley proved once again age is just a number with two strong finishes each day.|
Both days came down to the last run in the shootout and the top three were decided by 30 seconds or less. Although a couple of teams were able to give Shannon Campbell a run for his money, none were able to topple him from his throne. The seasoned veteran Campbell raced hard all weekend and was not going to be denied. A first-place finish is an incredible accomplishment against a field of such talented and competitive drivers, but to win back-to-back races says something about the aptitude of the Monster-sponsored driver.
|Ryan Pierce showing his tank can get off the ground. Few competitors have more heart than this self-sponsored team.|
The next event in the series will take place in Cortez, Colorado, where Campbell hasn’t had the best luck. There is no doubt he will bring his same checkers or wreckers driving style. If he doesn’t beat himself, then the other 30 plus teams will have their hands full keeping up with the man who is easily on a level of his own in the rock-racing world.
XRRA Results, Cortez, CO