April 16, 2017- Laughlin, NV- The 2017 UTV World Championship race was amazing! We headed out on Thursday night and arrived in Laughlin on Friday morning. We had pre-registered for the Family Poker Run so I’d be able to go out and see the course ahead of time. This year, I would be racing the short course desert race in the Production 700/800 class which was just over a 17 mile loop, 3 laps. I’ve never raced anything like it before, so I took the opportunity to head out on the Poker Run and check out the course.
The course looked awesome! I love taking long rides out at the desert through washes and on desert trails. There were a few sections of the course that I knew where going to be tough, like the Fox Proving Grounds with 6-8 foot tall whoops, but I felt prepared and ready for it. The course was everything I love about desert riding, so I was pumped to race the next day.
After the Poker Run, we headed over to check in at registration at the Riverside Hotel. At registration each driver was given a swag bag which included a program book for the event. I was honored to be one of only four featured drivers in the program book this year! Next, we headed out to the parking lot of the hotel for Tech and Contingency. There were rows of vendors and a huge line of cars! We pushed the car through tech, met new people, and saw friends. It’s so great to see how much the industry is growing. Every year this event gets bigger. There were hundreds of racers at the driver’s meeting on Friday night; I was stoked to be one of them!
On Saturday morning, we got up early, opened up the trailer and got to work on the last minute prep on my car. I practiced changing my clutch belt just in case something happened to it out on the course. I wanted to make sure I could change it myself if I had to. My crew chief stocked my tool bag and put a camel back with water in my car. We were ready to go! The short course race was the last race scheduled for the day, and when it was time, I headed to the start line.
There were over 100 cars racing that afternoon. I was in row 8 to start, which was the last line. As the rows ahead of me took off, I had to take a deep breath to calm my nerves. We’d be doing a dead engine start, and even though I had practiced, I have never started a race like that before. I heard them count down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO! The green flag flew and we were off. I started my car and hit the gas. I was 4th off of the line, but moved up to 2nd before we hit the first turn. As we rounded turn two, we left the in-field and headed out into the desert.
I stayed with the first place finisher, but then we got to a long stretch of straight road, and the second place finisher passed me. I had my foot to the floor trying to catch them. I felt confident I could battle with them in the technical sections ahead. Unfortunately, there was an accident between two big cars on a narrow road with cliffs on either side. I got stuck behind it and had to wait for over two minutes for the rescue crew to clear the road. Traffic was backing up behind me and it allowed the first and second place finishers to gain time on me. As soon as I got by the
accident, I knew I had to make up time if I wanted to catch the two cars in my class ahead of me. I gave it everything I had.
As I came around and headed into lap two, I notified my pit crew that the car was running good and I was still ok on fuel. I passed the pits and started lap two. The course changed with each lap because of all of the cars running at the same time. The ruts were huge, the course was dusty, and I had to navigate and pick the best lines I could. As I ran each mile, I passed by broken cars and drivers out of their cars trying to fix them to stay in the game. I focused on what was in front of me and kept going.
As I was completing lap two, I radioed ahead to my pit crew a few minutes before I hit the pit so they would be ready for me. I needed fuel and it sounded like my clutch belt was loose. I came into pit, and 10 people surrounded my car. They fueled me, checked my belt, wheels, tires, arms, and axels, and sent me on my way in less than a minute. I took off for the last lap of the race. I drove as hard and as fast as I could trying to make up time to catch the two cars in my class ahead of me, but I just couldn’t get them. I made up over a minute on my last lap, and as I crossed the finish line, I landed on the podium in 3rd place! My 54 miles through the desert was an awesome experience, and I was stoked to have finished the race. Landing on the podium was icing on the cake for me!
We are headed to Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, UT this weekend where I will race round 7 of the WORCS Series. Thanks so much for your support: Got Sand Performance, Red Rock, Method Race Wheels, Crow Enterprizes, Factory UTV, GBC Motorsports, RT Pro, Yoshimura, Demon Powersports, Baja Designs, Gates G Force, Elka Suspension, Rugged Radios, Maxima Racing Oils, Crown Performance Products, Surface Sun Systems, Butter Supply Co, Pavement Recycling Systems, Perrault Motorsports, and my parents who make this possible for me! Also, a huge thanks to my family and friends that came out to Laughlin to support me and help in my pit. Thanks to UTV Underground, Joey D, Polaris RZR, Mad Media, and Best in the Desert for putting on this awesome event and giving younger racers like me a place to experience a race like this. You can check out the Sims188 Racing team on Instagram @csims188 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/csims188/.