THE PURE 200 - HOWE NARROWLY WINS OVERALL BY 34 SECONDS!
By Elias Vidal
Photos by Nathaniel Boone
California City, CA – September 15, 2016 – Thirty-four seconds was all that was needed by driver Bradley Howe (Polaris – ITP, Baja Designs, Upfront Motorsports, PRP Seats) to squeak out the overall and Pro Class 1000 victory over second overall finisher, Josh Westling (Polaris – Factory UTV, Raceline, Cognito, Carbuen Seats, Airsun), at the recent PURE “200” UTV Off-Road race in Cal-City.
It was that close as Westling grabbed the physical lead around the third lap and maintained it through all six laps and was the first to receive the checkered flag at the finish. However, he had to keep his eyes on the car behind him, which was that of Bradley Howe, who started one minute behind Westling, and managed to finish, 34 seconds faster in corrected time. Westling knew already that his overall finish was in question as he got out of the car and looked glum. Howe, an experienced racer, knew that as long as he stayed behind the dust generated Westling, he would be fine. When it was all said and done Howe was declared the winner by seconds.
Howe finished six laps in a time of 4:25:02 hrs, averaging 46.1 mph and setting fastest lap on his third lap, when he posted a lap time of: 41:48 minutes. Second overall went to Westling who once again was very disappointed. He had worked his butt off trying to keep Howe way behind but he could always see the evasive Howe’s dust at a distance.
Third Overall and first Sportsman went to Sportsman 1000 Class entry of Ryan Rhodes (Polaris) with a time of 4:36:50 hrs.
Fourth overall finisher was Eric Weber and Keith Coleman (Polaris) with a time of 4:51:36 and rounding out the top five overall finishers was the team of Charlie Barney and Peter Medina (Polaris) in only their second UTV race ever. However, these are seasoned motorcycle racers, who have raced in a number of AVE/BAJA PROMOTIONS races who are now racing with the a cage As they say, “With Age, comes a Cage.” It worked for them
The race was a fast race for off-road races, when you consider that almost 100% of the terrain they race on is nasty, silty, rocky, and extremely whooped out, full of pot holes and trenches and just nasty stuff. It’s incredible that these UTVs can reach such speeds when the terrain feels more hostile than crossing the border at Syria.
Race promoter, Lou Peralta, held the mandatory driver’s meeting at 9 a.m. just before the 10 a.m. start. He emphasized that he was really concerned about the high speeds that many would reach on the unmaintained county roads. “Please racers, keep an eye on all traffic when racing through the desert. These are open lands and as such many people come to the desert to play, camp out and just relax. Be prepared!”
Fortunately for this particular weekend, the turnout of the public was one of the lowest all year. Especially when you consider that the opening of the off-road season starts early September during the Labor Day weekend, the second weekend in September was very light in spectator traffic.
Regardless, credit must go to the racers who are experienced in this type of racing and who watch out for each other. The accident or incident ratio was nil, non-existent. That is just terrific for a 200 mile race. Moreover, few mechanical problems or breakages were reported. All in all it was an excellent race that brought over 650 spectators to the Alta Vista Ranch and surrounding the race course.
The event started at 10 a.m. exactly and was done by 2 p.m. when the first checkered flag was displayed and the six laps were completed. Thereafter, everyone else who followed was also given the checkered. The final vehicle to cross the finish line was at 3:15 p.m. The 200-miler was now in the history books. This is another success for the promoter, racers and certainly for the nearby community of California City.
Class winners were: PRO 1000 Class = Bradley Howe; Sportsman 1000 Class = Ryan Rhodes; Sportsman 900 Class = Dustin McKibben; Bone Stock 1000 Class = James Everson.
The next event in the AVE/Baja Promotions UTV Off-Road Series is scheduled for October 22, 2016, also in Cal-City at the Alta Vista Ranch. This time a new race course will be laid out using GPS and tracking methods, and this final event of the season will feature 250 miles to complete, with six laps, and it pays “double points!” This event will finally decide the year-end point champions in every class and the Overall Points Championship for 2016.