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XRRA Hannibal - Round 3 Eastern Division
Story and photos by Nolen "Rock Midget" Grogan
July 12, 2008

Friday, Race Day

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There was an air of electricity around the park this morning with every racer gunning for the title in a series that, so far, has been dominated by one man. That man is Derek West. In the past two Eastern events, Derek has dominated with his silky smooth driving style. Though not in the fastest buggy, Derek is just fast enough to make each run consistent to take top honors at both Jellico and Gray Rock. That said, there were quite a few competitors that want a piece of that action. Other top finishers for the season have been Josh Murray, Danny Rohrer, Eric Childress, Brandon Haynes, and Rusty Bray. Alan Rich, Mike Hullfish, and Mike Foster were previous top finishers that were unfortunately absent from this event.

Those of you that watch the news know that the Midwest has been plagued with excess rain this year. July and August are top months for thunderstorms in these parts. With rain almost every day leading up to this event, XRRA founder Mike Weaver and the excellent staff of Hannibal Rocks knew that it was near certain that we would experience some sort of rain during the event. With that in mind, we set off to an on-time start with a sense of urgency to get as much of the race done before the foul weather arrived.

After Chaplain Tom blessed us and Creighton from Maxxis sang the National Anthem, it was time for the first racers to square off. Right off the bat, Roscoe Rietdorf from Team Branik put the crowd on their feet with an insane nose-wheelie off the monster drop in lane 2.

Just as he got the wheelie under control, he over corrected and flopped over for a DNF on his first run. Sometimes it is good to have a "Roscoe" lead off as no one else made the same mistake for the rest of the day. Jason Aliff motored on by.

The starting direction of the course was very fast. The outside lane 2 was the more difficult lane in both directions due to a more difficult ledge and a larger section of rocks that would prove brutal as the day progressed. Lane 1 almost took its first toll when Chris May, in the fourth pairing took a turn into "the pit" a little too fast and nearly drove off the course. Quick thinking and a good recovery had Chris out and around in great time.

Tim Cantrell had his SXOR chassis tuned up for XRRA Hannibal. He smoked his first run for the day and was my first near-miss for the event!

Brandon Haynes and Levi Shirley ran neck-and-neck on their first runs. Levi had a little argument with a tree in lane 2, but ended up finishing strong.

A superb pairing for the day was Brian Shirley and Josh Murray. Both of these guys are excellent drivers and serious competitors. Brian was in the Campbell buggy that he had recently purchased from Rusty Bray. The action was awesome as these two racers hit the track. Brian took the course with the fastest time of the day by over 30 seconds. He was ripping.

Kim Sears was fully getting it on her first run against Drew Goldie. Coming off the first obsticle in lane 1, she slammed a rock taking out her rim and had to drive 90% of the course with a passenger-side front flat. All but 2 turns in the twisty course just happened to be on that tire as well as the huge ledge she had to drop off. She soldiered on to make a super impressive run!

Another great match up came with Derek West and Adam Carter lined up. Derek runs a front engine buggy with a V6 and Adam runs a mid-engine with a V8. Both racers have been in the top 6 in previous races and it shows.

Rock racing greats Rusty Bray and Doug Bigelow squared off next. Both laid down screaming fast runs in their venerable V6 powered racers.

My next near-miss came as Wyatt Pemberton came on hard on the straight-away and got a little sideways in my direction giving me a nice shot of his Pirate4x4 sticker as he blasted by.

Never one to disappoint, Ken Blume was alone all day as we had an odd number of racers. Normally it is not as exciting to watch a solo run, but if anyone was to do it, Ken was great to watch. Also, as Ken told me, at least I would know who to take pictures of.

The course was reversed and the speeds picked up as the drivers got comfortable with their steeds. Eric Childress and Stan Haynes threw it all out there for their best runs of the day.

Local favorite and all-around great guy John Markovich was having trouble all day. He missed the first run and his motor was running poorly on the second run. Luckily for him, he hired great help to shoot pictures for his team all day.

Doc Mercer was fully getting it today as well. His buggy is my favorite racer in the series. Built by his spotter "Bender" this rig is hot. I think, too hot for the rough courses of XRRA. Is there such a thing as too much horsepower? Here Doc punishes a rock that dares get in his way.

Speed and more speed is what XRRA is all about.

In the fastest run of the day in lane 2, Brian Shirley launched his moonbuggy off the vertical wall in 3rd gear and pegged the throttle and crossed the finish line at over 50 mph in low range.

Newcomer Travis Snider was rolling pretty well during his second run of the day in his newly built mid-engine car.

Here Rob Dubroc of Muchado Productions realizes he is dead when Big Jim realizes he taped over his wedding ceremony with XRRA footage.

Awesome action!

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