The King of the Shield is the final event of the TMR Customs Off Road Racing series season in Ontario, Canada. Ending the year with a bang is the goal for every series and the King of the Shield event never disappoints.
At the end of August every year, the TMR Customs Off Road Racing Series team arrives at the Bob Rumball Camp for the Deaf near Parry Sound, Ontario and expands on their trail system to create unique and challenging obstacles for all levels of racers. This area of Ontario is a great location to show off the beautiful northern forests and natural rock outcroppings thanks to the Canadian Shield.
How It All Began
King of the Shield organizer Aaron Darling explained that the event had its humble beginnings in 2001 as the Ontario Rock Crawl Championship and was later renamed and reformatted as King of the Shield. Originally designed to be a timed rock crawling competition changes in the industry morphed the competition into a timed off-road race that still pays homage to its rock crawling days.
Darling explained why the changes were necessary to keep the series here in Ontario alive, “A lot of our guys started going down to the States for King of the Hammer style racing and it was all speed, more adrenaline and less crawling. So they really wanted the change.” The event has turned into one of the premier off-road races in the province of Ontario thanks to Darling and the team at TMR Customs Inc.
This year’s trail system was expanded to include a large loop and a road section to allow for some high-speed action not normally found in the series. The new loop section also allowed for an easier turnaround for the drivers to double back and tackle the track backwards ending where they started.
The series co-founder Tim Rogers, who also happens to be the president of TMR Customs Inc, couldn’t be happier with this event, “King of the Shield is the final race of the season and the Championship event in the TMR Race Series – it’s the Super Bowl of off road racing in Ontario and it went off without a hitch!”
The three classes for the series include a stock class with a maximum tire size of 37 inches and stock frame, body, suspension, and steering. The next step-up is the modified class featuring a maximum tire size of 43 inches, some stock frame and body, and a maximum shock travel of 14 inches.
The high-light of the series is, of course, the unlimited class. These kick-butt rigs can rock any sized tires they want, a minimum six-point roll cage and of course any suspension and steering they can come up with.
Qualifying For Race Day
Friday started off with teams arriving at the local KOA campground and setting up in the pits at the Camp of the Deaf along with some last minute LCQs for drivers who weren’t able to attend the full season. One of those drivers running the LCQs was the US team no. 513, Jeff Caudill from Sunman, Indiana. Jeffs’ wife Nicole, along with their baby boy Axel, made the 10 plus hour drive north to support their main sponsor TMR Customs.
All other drivers had to pre-qualify for this championship event by competing at a minimum of three other events in the TMR Series including events held in Tweed, Petawawa, Mansfield, and Capreol Ontario. With racers from all over Southern, Northern and Central Ontario, and even a team from Indiana, the competition isn’t something to laugh at.
In total 27 competitors qualified for King of Shield, but as they like to say, “many will challenge, few will conquer.” With heavy rain falling on the area over the last week the course was covered with slick mud and clay sections that would add an extra level of difficulty to the track. The DNF list was pretty extensive by the end of racing on Saturday.
Mud And Rocks Fly On Race Day
First up for the morning was the Stock Class with no. 777 Mark Bachman from the Blazing Sevens Racing Team. Bachman would end up setting a time that no other driver in the stock class could compete with. Bachman took home the first place title with a total time of 10:43.
The second place finisher was no. 15 Jack Dale from Dale Racing in his Jeep Grand Cherokee with an impressive time of 12:04. Next up to tackle the coarse was no. 23 Troy Lewis from Triple S Racing with his Sahara Jeep. Lewis would score a time of 12:44 landing himself a third overall.
The next class to hit the coarse was the Modified Class whose Champion would be determined by a total combined score from two runs. Track officials opened up the rock garden for the big boys to tackle and absolute craziness ensued.
The no. 463 JP Morin from team Greasy Clown Racing was up first in the class and the first to run into serious issues at the rock garden obstacle. After a valiant attempt, JP would end up tying for fourth place with no. 96 Mark Thompson from Thompson Racing as both drivers timed out and had break downs out on the trail.
Third place would go to Experiment Racings’ no. 14 Ken Montgomery who finished his first heat with a time of 13:01. Montgomery absolutely dominated the coarse in his first run, but unfortunately, he timed out in his second heat giving him a total time of 33:01 only a few second behind the second place finisher no. 57 Pete Hamann from Heinz 57 Racing.
The Heinz 57 Jeep tackled the intricate trail with ease letting Hamann rocket across the finish line with a time of 12:42 for his first heat. Hamanns’ second heat didn’t quite go as smooth after some mechanical trouble that timed him out. Hanmanns’ total time was 32:42. The number one position went to the only driver in the Modified class who was able to successfully complete two full runs of the course second Dustin Harford in his moded out Jeep TJ from Harford Racing.
His first heat saw the best-modified class time of the day at a staggering 12:25 even after he got hung up on a tree. Harford’s second go was a bit longer at 13:52 bringing his total time to 26:18.
The most exciting and loudest class of the day, the Unlimited Class, was next up to the ringer and once again these guys were scored based on the total time of two heats. Out of 13 drivers and 26 total runs, six drivers timed out in both of their heats and only three drivers were able to finish both of their runs successfully.
The no. 001 Pete Evans from team Gettin Muddy Offroad would take home fourth place with impressive heat times of 15:43 and 13:56, totaling 29:39. Evans struggled with the mud slick hill climbs and tight corners but he chewed through the rocky landscape like it was flat pavement.
Next up in third place was no. 867 Steven Donovan and Mike Rogers from team TMR Customs Racing with one of the fastest heats of the day at 8:16. His total would be 28:16 after timing out in his second run.
Second place went to the no. 17 of Chris Knight from Knight Motorsports Racing with consistent heat times of 9:52 and 9:20 for a total of 19:12. Knight had such clean runs that as he flew over the rock garden and up the mud slicked hill you’d think he was out for a Sunday drive.
The King of the Shield Unlimited Class Championship title went to the driver who had the two fastest heat times of the day, 7:21 and 8:03, almost a full four minutes faster than second place with a total time of 15:24. The no. 513 of Jeff Caudill from TMRTOO was crowned the well-deserved Champion.
An honorable mention has to go to no. 365 Jay Potter from Busted Budget Offroad Racing after giving the crowd one amazing show as he screamed through the rock garden only to end up rolling his machine on the following muddy hill. Potter may have timed out in both his heats but he put on the best show of the day.
After a long day of heat races and wrecked rigs, only eight drivers lined up to take part in the final event of the day, The King of the Hill. The King of the Hill event is always the most exciting part of the day as drivers take turns climbing the steep hill lined with trees, mud, and large chunks of the Canadian Shield.
The Stock Class’ no. 777 Marck Bachman was the first one to tackle the hill scoring a total time of 1:22:39 taking home third place. The Unlimited Class’ no. 03 Adam Bullock would score in at 1:21:26 just ahead of Bachman to take home second place. While the Modified Class’ no. 2 Dustin Harford would take home the win with a staggering run of just 1:07:00 on the dot.
Rogers was very pleased with the season finishing off our interview saying, “2017 was our best year yet – the competitors really came to put on a show and put their custom-built vehicles to the test. Thanks to the Bob Rumball Camp of the Deaf for providing the amazing terrain and the Parry Sound KOA for the awesome hospitality.”
“Thanks to all the drivers, volunteers, and spectators that make the TMR Race Series great,” Rogers continued. “We’re already planning to make 2018 more exciting for both drivers and spectators”
Be sure to check out the gallery from all the weekend’s events below!