Dirt flinging, cars tumbling, broken axles, transmissions, and so much more – that’s exactly what spectators and racers alike experienced at the season finale for Dirt Riot Endurance Racing at the organization’s National Rampage event held at RAM Off-Road Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado this last weekend.
While the threat of rain and the chill in the air certainly kept some people away, those who braved the elements were treated to one heck of a day of racing. And of course, we were there to document it all!
Time To Get Dirty
Started by the World Extreme Rock Crawling Championship Series, or W.E. Rock, Dirt Riot Endurance Racing is the perfect combination of 4×4 trails, rock obstacles, canyons, go-fast dirt roads, and everything in between, creating a fast and technical five to ten-mile race course that competitors run for about an hour and a half per race. Incorporating a number of off-road racing classes, from Stock Trail and Modified Trail to Super Mod and 4400 Class competitors, Dirt Riot offers a fun racing environment for all driver skill levels and all vehicle performance levels, with four races per event, grouping like-modified/performance vehicles together.
This year, the Dirt Riot series hosted ten total events – three races a piece for the organization’s Southwest, Central and Mountain Series, and then their National Rampage, which brought the best of the best from all three areas together for one last showdown. With Friday’s pre-running and qualifying in the bag, we hit RAM Off-Road Park just as the first group of racers were about to hit the track for Saturday’s races.
First to hit the course were the Stock Trail, Modified Trail and 4600 Class competitors. Making up the class was everything from a vintage Toyota FJ40 and a Land Cruiser to various years of Jeep Cherokees. After an hour and a half of racing, minor carnage and a few broken vehicles, no. 3X– Carlos Banegas took the checkered flag in the 4600 Class, no. 52– Paul Tyler took the checkered in the Modified Trail Class, and no. 212– Jack Peters took the checkered for the Stock Trail Class.
Next to race were the UTV and Pro UTV classes, together totaling over 20 vehicles. No matter what portion of the course you were on, there were vehicles everywhere, which made for some serious tire-to-tire action and plenty of rollovers to be remediated throughout.
Fortunately, there was an amazing recovery crew on hand to help racers get back on their tires and off to catch their competition – except for the guy who managed to lodge his UTV on a pile of concrete barriers. He was stuck until recovery was able to pull him free after the race was over. Taking the checkered flag for the UTV Class when all was said and done was no. 4 – Shawna Mandel and in the Pro UTV Class, no. 914 – Ray Mandel, making it a father/daughter sweep for first place in the UTV classes!
Once the UTV race wrapped up and various vehicles had been recovered from their break-down points along the course, the Super Mod Trail and the 4500 Class competitors took to the dirt. Right out of the gate, competitors in both classes proved what their vehicles were capable of, launching up the famous Step-Up obstacle just seconds after taking off from the starting line.
Among them, names like Vaughn Gittin Jr., Chad Schoonover, Jason Fish, Darrell Shields, Todd McCullen and Kevin Rants. After a number of rollovers, broken drivetrains and chewed up suspension components pulled a number of competitors out of the run for podium positions, it was no. 25 – Vaughn Gittin Jr. who took first place in the 4500 Class, and no. 822 – Chad Schoonover who took first in the Super Mod Trail Class.
Last but certainly not least, the 4400 Class hit the course, boasting big names like Ben Swain, Darrell Gray, Vaughn Gittin Jr. (one of a handful of competitors who raced in two separate classes throughout the day), Chad Wheeler, Hunter Sparrow, Doug Kahlstrom, Eston Simms, and many more. The “big guns” of the series, the 4400 Class competitors proved to be the biggest and baddest with a number of them throwing down 10 to 11-minute lap times, much like many of the Pro UTV guys did but with much bigger vehicles.
With just two laps to go in the final race, Mother Nature finally let the rainfall, giving the already tired and bruised up drivers, even more, to fight against as they fought for finishing positions. Spectators and pit crew members ran for cover as the downpour commenced but the precipitation didn’t deter the competitors in their final rounds of the course. If anything, it made them fight harder.
Despite the rain, after having chased the checkered flag the entire season, it was Ben Swain who crossed the finish line in first, followed by Darrell Gray in second and Vaughn Gittin Jr. in third. Soaking wet, covered in mud and with eyes begging to be washed out, competitors and their teams celebrated as each came across the line, having ended their 2017 Dirt Riot season on a high note.
At 4:30 pm, everyone gathered for awards for both the National Rampage race and overall for the entire Dirt Riot Season. The event was capped off with a raffle of various goodies and the auctioning off of the Dirt Riot banner, with proceeds from all going to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
We had an absolute blast eating dirt, dodging flying rocks and chasing the action at the Dirt Riot National Rampage. Be sure to take a look at the full results from the event HERE and check out all the action we caught throughout the event in the GALLERY below!