WE Rock Western Nationals Finale at Miller Motorsports Park

Aug. 03, 2010 By Stephen Clark
The Miller Motorsports Park spans 511 acres of land just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The complex includes a 4.5-mile, 24-turn racetrack with four possible configurations, a go-kart track, a museum, garages, restaurants, several driving schools and a manmade off-road course on which WE Rock competed.

For the second time in just over a month, Off-Road.com traveled to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooelle, Utah, to cover an off-road event. The park, which has hosted a number of road-racing motorcycle events since its opening, has added a number of off-road events to its calendar in 2010 and plans to continue this in the future. After attending the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series in June, this time, Miller Motorsports Park hosted the WE Rock Western Nationals, the final western round for the rock-crawling season in 2010.

The Miller off-road park features man-made concrete and gunite obstacles built on the flat desert surface. The WE Rock event was the first major rock-crawl competition at the facility, and in an effort to really test the drivers some new obstacle sections were added. WE Rock’s Western Nationals were a two-day event ran in the evenings with the competition starting at 4:00 p.m. each day, with the competition climaxing with a shootout on Saturday evening.

Brandon Montgomery and his spotter Bondo had a tough weekend as they rolled their buggy at least twice during the weekend, and with time left on the clock they tried to roll it back upright by hand. While they might not have won any trophies for their efforts, they certainly got some of the biggest cheers from the crowd.

Friday’s competition went well and many of the teams posted some very low scores. In the Unlimited Class, the team of Dion Wakefield and Ken Dowdie ended the day with an amazing score of -63. The rumor around the paddock was that course designer Lil Rich was surprised at how much traction the surface had at Miller. Even with decent traction the courses still gave some teams issues, as there were several vehicles that ended up upside down. After seeing how the teams handled the terrain in competition, the WE Rock officials changed the course for Saturday’s event making the lines more technical and challenging.

Jesse Haines partnered had Craig Stumph as his spotter for the Miller event. Craig is considered the grandfather of rock-crawling, and as the original founder of WE Rock Craig has been around the sport since it began. Stumph’s experience and Haines’ driving made for an unbeatable team at Miller, and they took home the first-place trophy in the Pro Mod Class.

The weather was nice and warm, as it should be at this time of year, for the duration of the competition on Friday, but the weather had different ideas for Saturday. Just minutes before the competition began, the heavens opened and it rained very hard for several minutes. Thankfully, the rain didn’t last long, but it did come back a couple of more times during the evening but it was never significant enough to effect the competition. As the sun began to get low in the sky the, weather was clear and the fans were graced with an amazing sunset as a backdrop to the great action on the courses.

Brent Bradshaw and Chris Pablano had some excellent scores all weekend and finished with a -102, a mere four points behind the winners Wakefield and Dowdle in the Unlimited Class.

The maiden WE Rock event at Miller went well, the fan attendance was decent and the competitors and organizers seemed happy with the new venue. WE Rock series has one East Coast event in Dayton, TE, before coming back to Miller in October for the Nationals, where the top teams from the East and West Coasts will compete for the national title. Prior to the Nationals in October, more obstacles and terrain will be added to the Miller course, which once the additional terrain is added “Big Rich” Klien says Miller will be the premier rock-crawling course in North America.

During the Pro Mod shootout, Buzz Bronsema rolled his vehicle into this hole and was stuck there on its side. With the clock still ticking, he tried driving it out but just ended up spinning around in the hole on its side, battering the vehicle of the rocks in a spectacular display. But try as he did, Bronsema couldn’t get the vehicle back upright and eventually had to be rolled over by the crew of officials.

Shannon Campbell had other commitments with his sponsor Monster Energy at the X Games and wasn’t able to attend the WE Rock Miller event. However, his brother Nick was there and competing in the Pro Mod Class. Nick told us that while he prefers to drive on natural courses as opposed to the manmade course at Miller, he did love the facility. “This place is badass, the courses are good and we did some go-karting this morning which was really fun,” he said.

The turnout of fans at Miller was pretty good for the first event at the facility. With Moab and lots of 4x4 trails in Utah, there is a big following of 4x4 enthusiasts in this area, and as the word spreads we foresee that fan attendance at the October Nationals will be larger.

It wasn’t all bad for the vehicles that had to be towed off the course … at least the tow driver was attractive. Here, Todd Young and Shawn Beard begin crawling the course in the Unlimited Shootout.

As the sun went down, large portable lights were turned on to light up the course.

Jesse Haines got his Pro Mod buggy stuck upside down in a hole. An elaborate process of winching by two vehicles eventually got the buggy clear of the course.

The local team of Casey Beach and Chad Schoonover had plenty of fan support in their Tuff Country-sponsored rig. Things went a bit wrong at one point on Saturday evening and their buggy came rolling down the course.

The Canadian team of Dion Wakefield and Ken Dowdle were overjoyed with their victory, and their Spiderman backpack joined them on top of the rig following their shootout run. A jubilant Dion told us, “Unbelievable, it’s amazing. We had a lucky day.”

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