Canyon racing rocks the dirt

Racers speed into a cloud of dust. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Racers speed into a cloud of dust.

Throughout the day on July 6, sounds of the We Rock Dirt Riot Race echoed through an otherwise serene McElmo Canyon. Competing on a world-class course at the Battle Rock Off-Road Park, drivers from near and far battled flat tires and mechanical failures as they competed for points in the Dirt Riot Mountain Series and the Southwest Series.

By the end of the event, race organizers were pleased with the results and eager to host more races later this year.

In order to host major off-road races, a top-notch course is necessary and this year, the Battle Rock Off-Road Park did not disappoint. Containing a combination of natural obstacles, intense terrain and long sandy straightaways, the course tested competitors’ driving skills as well as their vehicles.

“The [Battle Rock Off-Road Park is unique in that it combines rock and silt,” said local mechanic and racer, Randy Rodd. “There is also an area where water is present. The diversity of the terrain at the park makes the [Battle Rock Off-Road Park] a great place to race.”

Along with offering world-class terrain, the Battle Rock Off-Road Park provided competitors with an opportunity to drive in an area rich with history.

“McElmo Canyon has a lot of history,” said Rodd. “Drivers were very curious about that. The race was great in that it exposed people to a great area. Hopefully, many racers will return in the future.”

Among the most impressive racers of the day was Chris Hoyt, who came away victorious in the Pro 4400 4x4 class.

Completing 14 laps around the course in a time of 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 2 seconds, Hoyt outpaced second place finisher Andrew McLaughlin by more than 4 minutes.

Taking home first place honors in the Pro 4500 4x4 class was Jeff Rector, who completed 13 laps around the course in 2 hours and 30 seconds.

In the Pro 4600 class, Jason Kaminsky took the top spot, while Stephen Lee won the UTV class.

“Steven Lee was especially impressive,” said Rodd. “He’s from the local area, heard about this race, signed up at the last minute and won. The vehicle he was driving was not all that special and he did a great job of driving.”

In the Stock Modified class, Ryan Miller won a close race over Rawlin McGehie. and in the stock class, Jason Davis bested second place finisher Keith Sachs.

Overall, all of the races were competitive and entertaining.

“The racing was very competitive,” said Rodd. “These guys are top notch racers. All the races were competitive and a lot of local racers from Cortez and Durango did very well.”

Hoping to build on last weekend’s Dirt Riot Race, organizers are planning to host the We Rock Grand Nationals later this year. Scheduled to begin on Sept. 27 and last until Sept. 29, the Grand Nationals will be held at the Battle Rock Off-Road Park.

“The Grand Nationals will be a rock-crawling event,” said Rodd. “It will be a great spectator event and we hope to see a lot of people there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Fans cheer as a racer passes by in the We Rock Dirt Riot race Saturday in McElmo Canyon. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Fans cheer as a racer passes by in the We Rock Dirt Riot race Saturday in McElmo Canyon.