The day was bright and the weather was clear. This was the day the everyman came out for a challenge. For the 2021 Ultra4 4 Wheel Parts Every Man Challenge, racers in multiple classes made their way through Hammertown and lined up at the start line. The smell of high-octane gas was overpowering, and so was the sound of V8 engines. As soon as the green flag waved, the race was on, and only time would tell who would come out on top.
The 4x4s raised hell coming out of Hammertown and headed into the dry lake beds. We opted to head out to Remote Pit 1 to catch the racers on the first lap. The pit was way out in the butt end of nowhere, northwest of Hammertown, with low desert terrain stretching in all directions.
This being a two-lap race, the heat was on to keep position for as long as possible. Pit 1, located at an intersection in the northwest sector of the race course, lies at an intersection. It was here that the racers came in and head to Notches, a notoriously rocky and unforgiving section. From there, the racers would go northeast, hairpin down, and head south back into Pit 1.
Hard Times At Remote Pit 1
Ideally, the racers make their first pass through through Pit 1 without issue on the way to Notches. But inevitably, the course had done a number on some cars. One of them was #4622 Twitchy McGee. His rear axle lost a spring (and perch). His prospects weren’t looking good, but his hope was to mount a new spring and perch and run his race.
We kept our eyes peeled for the leaders as they made their southward return to Pit 1. The first coming through was 1481 Chayse Caprara, sporting a busted driver front tire. Although the physical first-place leader, he lost time as his crew replaced the popped tire and sent him on his way. He hightailed it out of the pit minutes before #618 Casey Gilbert came in and got a quick refuel. #16 Cameron Steele rolled in shortly afterward and got refueled as well. These three leaders were on fantastic pace, but already we had the feeling that this race was Capara’s to win.
After watching the three leaders come through remote pit 1, we jetted back to Hammertown. Judging by RacingTraX, Chayse was still in the lead as he headed past the Marine base boundary. Meanwhile, our hope was to get to Chocolate Thunder in time to see these leaders pass by again.
Racing Through The Rocks
Luckily, we made it in time. The race tracker still showed Chayse in the lead. He was a fair bit ahead of Gilbert and Steele. Chayse made it through Chocolate Thunder without issue, clambering over the peak and continuing onward.
Somewhere in the mountains, #232 Brad Lovell overtook Gilbert. Gilbert moved back to 3rd place. This was interesting, as Lovell had qualified about 20th toward the back of the group. Nevertheless, he’d been making good progress throughout the day. Adding to that momentum was the fact that neither he nor his brother/co-driver, Roger, had been forced to hop out for roadside repairs.
It all came to a head as Caprera rolled into the podium in first place. His hard work and tenacity, even in the face of some major setbacks, had paid off and delivered him the win. “My method was to try and keep it smooth, break nothing , and go as fast as I can,” he said. “We got the lead right after Pit 1 going out. I never assumed we were going to win because anything can happen out here.”
Coming into 2nd place were the Lovell brothers, Brad and Roger. This marked yet another podium finish for the AMSOIL-sponsored team, after their first-place win in the 2020 Every Man Challenge; in total, Brad has won four EMCs over the course of his career. “My hat is off to the winners,” he said. “They were just that little bit faster today. Every Man Challenge is always a great race. It gives us a place that we can race and be competitive in an older car like ours.”
Last but not least, Casey Gilbert took 3rd place. Though he rounded out the podium, his past two wins at Every Man Challenge spoke to how capable he can be when the winds of luck blow his way. “The challenge is what keeps me coming back to Every Man Challenge,” he said. “It’s never the same race twice. You’re always working through problems. I have a good time just trying to figure out how to overcome a situation I get into.”
These were the guys that made watching the 2021 4 Wheel Parts Every Man Challenge an edge-of-the-seat thrill. Johnson Valley chewed up and spit out several teams, but it couldn’t keep these three teams from emerging victorious.