The CGYS Motorsports team loaded up early Friday morning and made the short 4.5 hour drive to Davis, OK for the 1st Eastern Series Race of the Ultra 4 2017 Season.
We had been checking Facebook for updates of the park, track and arriving teams. It looked to be a muddy mess, but we were already committed and on the way. When we arrived at the park we had already witnessed several teams being drug through the slop by the dozer and we didn’t want any part of that. We decided to park on the high side of the road away from the starting line and meeting tent where it was nice and dry.
We thought long and hard but made the tough decision to Not pre-run the course. We were afraid to compromise the electronics on the car and knew it would be 100% ready if we didn’t. The rain was off and on all day and the track was so washed up the U4 officials decided to cancel all qualifying and every team would start by random draw. We drew #6 in our class. That meant we were the 3rd to last car to start the race due to running with 2 other classes. We were ok with that since we didn’t really have any idea about the course.
During the drivers meeting the rain had just started to begin. We had just thought it was messy. After several tornado warnings, thunderstorm warnings and over 6″ of rain through the night everything was a real mess, the creek has trapped teams in as well as trapped teams out. Our buddy Wally was trapped at the creek and had to sleep in his truck. We didn’t really have much to do so we all crashed early. We were up early and ready for the UTV race when we were informed that we had a 2 hour delay. Usually disappointed with delays, but we welcomed this one. The UTV Class only ran the upper course and their race went quick, but it wasn’t without plenty of carnage.
We lined up and it was time for our race to start. We started about 15 seconds apart and it seemed to take forever for us to actually start. We left the staring line and soon figured out it would be very easy to overdrive the car. The track was slick and nasty. We managed to keep a good pace and passed several cars before the first big water crossing. When we came to the first big crossing we came up on about 5 cars waiting to cross. As we approached the crossing we noticed a rig was stuck and several were waiting/helping, we couldn’t really tell and we knew this was a great opportunity to pass a few more. We drove hard right and looking for a good area to cross. We quickly found shallow water and made a clean pass. We were running hard and the car was all over the place. As we approached the next crossing we saw several more cars stalled/stuck and broke down. We found another line and made another pass. At this moment we realized that we needed to hit the water with respect and protect the car if we wanted to finish.
We made the 1st 1/2 lap, checked in and had managed to move up into 1st/2nd place. We weren’t sure because the cars were so nasty few knew if 4500 cars or 4800 cars were coming through. We started the second 1/2 of our first lap and then shit got real. The mud was out of control, the water crossing were 3.5-4′ deep and traction was very limited. We kept a good pace and approached the big climb. There was 4-5 paths to the top and the 2 easiest were jammed up. We decided to try the big ledge and make time. We hit it a bit too conservative and slid all the way back down to the bottom. The other climb was slick and off camber, but we decided to hit it. We hit it hard and made the climb easily, but couldn’t make the turn clean. We backed up a few feet and pinned the gas making it to the top, but the motor was maxed out and as soon as we crested the top the transmission quit pulling. We were immediately stopped and worried we were finished 3/4 of a lap in.
We sit and discussed our options for a minute or so then decided to try it in low range since everything had cooled a bit. To our surprise, the tranny pulled hard at about 4000 RPM’s so we left it in low range and continued to finish lap one. We checked in lap one and were confident we were in top position and wanted to drive smart and finish this race. As we began lap 2 we saw even more cars stranded. We took it easy through all the deep water and tried to be smart in the mud. Passing more and more cars we started to feel good about the slower pace we were keeping.
Checking in lap 1.5 we were sure we would be cut to 2 laps instead of 3. We kept radioing to the pits for confirmation, but were surprised to hear we were still on for 3! We made the big climb easily on lap 2 as it seemed the hills were drying up nicely. As we approached the deep mud we saw several rigs stuck and decided to blaze a new trail. We soon were stuck too; Mark Klingele Jr pulled cable for us and got us moving quickly. JT Taylor and the crew were busting ass everywhere helping as many as they could, but some were doomed already. Checking in lap 2 we knew we only had 1 more to go and our goal was to keep Jeff In the car and finish smart. We cruised to check in at lap 2.5 and knew we had a solid chance to win it.
Pressing on we approached the quick sand and saw cars everywhere. Some were doomed, some were winching and some were trying to make new trails. All our our new trails from lap 2 were already taken and already had rigs winching on them all. Ken Fults was out of his car and directed us around. Once we pulled around all the stuck rigs a tree branch had somehow got tangled in our engine and kindly removed our engine belt. Jeff and I fought the steering for a few minutes and decided to pull up and fix the car. We jumped out and went to remove the hood. We tugged a bit more than usual and when the hood broke free of the pin mounts it was about 70 lbs. I couldn’t believe how much mud was on it!
We quickly replaced the belt and were on our way again. We knew we lost a lot of time and had no idea where we were at this point. Knowing we needed to stay in the woods for another 20 yards or so we popped out on the trail, mashed the gas and were soon stuck. We were stuck again. Jeff was quickly out and pulling cable. We decided to pull 50-60 feet and winch 1-2 times instead of 5-6 times like several other teams we had previously watched. We were out and on our way.
Approaching the next muddy section we pinned it and hoped for the best. Having to keep the car on low range we could only safely reach 45 MPH and soon realized that wasn’t going to cut it. Stuck Again! Dammit man! Our goal was keep Jeff in the car and make a clean lap. Jeff was quickly out and pulling cable like a boss. We winched 2 more long pulls and we’re confident we could make it under our own power. Jeff once again climbed into the muddiest rig ever and managed to strap in and we were on our way.
We slowly navigated the last section of lap 3 and crossed the finish line!We hoped we had won it, but really had no idea! Our communications were wet and all crossed up. I could hear Jeff, but he couldn’t hear me, the pits could hear me, but not Jeff and Jeff could hear the pits and I couldn’t. Lol. It was difficult to communicate, but we managed and the race was finally over. We stopped to be congratulated by Gene And he notified us we were 1st in our class. We couldn’t have been happier that it was over, we had pulled it off and the car was still actually moving under its own power.
It was a long, wet, nasty weekend and race , but that’s how it goes sometimes. East Coast Ultra 4 is very unpredictable and unforgiving at times. Our Warn winch never let us down and our General Tires kept us moving. We wood like to thank each and everyone of our marketing partners, our crew Aaron Faucher, Jeremy Tipton and Jason Wally Lovell.