Utah track requires adjustments from Lucas Oil Off Road drivers

Utah track requires adjustments from Lucas Oil Off Road drivers

Corona, California (June 22, 2017) – Three or four centuries ago when our ancestors began talking of reaching lofty goals it's doubtful any of them had auto racing in the Stansbury Mountains of Utah in mind.

As often happens, however, the phrase remains applicable, because in past day or two the mobile community known as the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series presented by GEICO has ascended to Tooele County for this weekend's Toyota Utah Off Road Nationals presented by LUND at the Utah Motorsports Campus (UMC).

The two days of racing (Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25) that will be broadcast live by LucasOilRacing.TV, the first 24-hour On Demand motorsports network, quite literally will be the high point of this year's 14-race season.

The elevation of the off-road course at UMC is about 5,050 feet. That's roughly 600 feet higher than the course at Sparks, Nevada, where the series will race in late August and 5,000 feet higher than the site of last month's event at Ensenada, Baja California.

That makes winning a race or collecting a trophy for a top three finish a truly lofty goal. It also means the drivers and their teams will have to make some adjustments to their race vehicles because what worked in Baja California or Chandler, Arizona (1,214 feet), might not work in Tooele.

"There's a couple of things you have to do in the carburetor and cooling," reigning Pro 4 champion Kyle LeDuc said of getting his Monster Energy Ford truck ready for the races.

"It's got a carburetor, we're not fuel-injected, so we have to do it manually. We use the same carburetor, just make some alterations to it. It's not a ton of work, just some difference techniques. The motor runs differently (due to the elevation) so you don't necessarily have to cool it as much."

The thinner air in Utah may influence the truck's speed too, but LeDuc said the track is "fairly small, so if it does mess with it it's not noticeable," and he and crew chief Trad Ronfeldt should know.

The 35-year-old driver from Temecula, California, will go into this weekend in pursuit of his fourth straight class championship and his sixth win in seven starts at UMC. The father of two won both Pro 4 races in 2014 and 2015 and the second race last year after his win streak had been snapped by Bryce Menzies.

Rob MacCachren said he and his team are "still working on" the best settings for Pro 4, where he has eight podium finishes but no wins, but knows there's a noticeable decline in power in Pro 2, a class he has won six times. He attributes that to the thin air and not much grip on what he said is "probably the slipperiest track we race on" during the season.

The reigning Pro 2 champion said that in the early days of short course racing teams were building higher compression engines for races at high elevation. Now most of the changes to his Rockstar Energy Ford involve changing to a looser torque converter and "attention to the carburetor and the jetting to try to maximize them (to compensate) for the loss of air."

It will be the eighth time the world's best short course off road series has visited the multi-purpose facility (formerly Miller Motorsports Park) about 35 miles west of the Salt Lake City airport and past performances have shown that racing there occasionally can be a contact sport.

"It's tight. It's short compared to Reno (Nevada) or Lake Elsinore (California). Since it's shorter there's not a lot of room for passing so you almost have to move somebody out of the way," said Jerry Daugherty, a Riverton, Utah, resident who raced in Pro 2 and Pro 4 and until this year was the director of the Lucas Oil Regional series that races at the track. That's why track position is probably the key to anything."

Getting position isn't easy, either, Daugherty said, because the clay-based track usually "is greasy when the race starts and then it gets tacky. It depends on the weather and everything else. If it's really hot it will kind of dry out and get dusty no matter what you do to it."

A short, tight track and close points races in each of the six classes that will be in action are the main ingredients that should produce for another exciting show for LucasOilRacing.TV's live broadcasts (4:30 p.m. EDT/1:30 p.m. PDT) each day. And the potential stars are the drivers who have shown the ability to adapt to the conditions, veterans like LeDuc, MacCachren, Carl Renezeder, and Brian Deegan and emerging young star Jerett Brooks, the reigning Pro Lite champion.

Renezeder, who's racing only Pro 4 in his farewell season, has won 5 times and made 10 podium appearances in 14 starts in that class and 8 more in Pro 2. MacCachren has his 6 wins in Pro 2 and 8 podium appearances (but no wins) in Pro 4, LeDuc has 4 wins and 8 top 3s total in Pro 4 and Deegan has 5 wins and 14 podiums in Pro 2 (2 wins), Pro 4 and Pro Lite (3 wins). Brooks won both Pro Lite races last season and has taken three of four in Utah since rejoining the series two years ago.

MacCachren currently is engaged in what is shaping up as a tense battle for the Pro 2 title. The Las Vegas native is tied with Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath with 184 points after 4 of the 13 rounds of the championship and Menzies is just 1 point behind. Deegan is tied for fourth with Rodrigo Ampudia, who won the first Pro 2 race in Utah in 2010, both with 166 points while Brooks has 165 and RJ Anderson 162.

LeDuc is 4 points ahead of Menzies in Pro 4, 185 to 181, thanks to a sweep five weeks ago in Baja California, and just 9 points separate third-place Renezeder (169) and sixth-place Eric Barron (160).

Brock Heger has the most comfortable lead of anyone. Thanks to three wins in four starts he's 11 points ahead of Brooks and 14 in front of Hailie Deegan in Pro Lite, and he also leads the new Production 1000 UTV class by 7 points over Myles Cheek. Pro Buggy is becoming a two-driver fight between Eliott Watson (198) and 2016 champion Darren Hardesty Jr. (194) and first-event winners Brody Eggleston (100) and Cole Keats (99) lead the Modified Kart standings.

Tickets, available on the series website at www.lucasoiloffroad.com, are $35 per day for adults and $10 per day for children.

Television Schedule

All times are Eastern. Subject to change.
Sunday, January 21
2:00 PM
- Chandler, AZ
Sunday, January 28
2:00 PM
- Chandler, AZ
Sunday, February 4
2:00 PM
- Chandler, AZ
Click here for full TV schedule.

Latest Photos

Loading script and Flickr images