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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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The courses were reversed and became harder. What the racers were easily dropping off of in the morning was proving quite challenging in the opposite direction. So far, the weather was cooperating and the steep climbs were not so bad for this group of professionals.

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Travis Snider managed to turtle his new buggy on a huge rock just feet from the finish line and take out his lower control arm.

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Danny Rohrer attacked the hardest climb on the course without his rear ARB enganged and he just could not make the climb. In the process of backing up for another try, he got sideways and flopped into a banner and was called out of bounds.

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Dave Smith recovered from a bad bounce and smartly reversed through the final gates for a nice finish on his 3rd run.


Wyatt Pemberton turned over his buggy to his buddy and spotter Kelly for a hot lap that turned a bit ugly in the end. This flop ended a sweet run by Kelly.

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Guys like Ken Blume and Derek West are not only awesome drivers, but they hang out with some serous talent.

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Tim Cantrell had a close call when his rear driveshaft broke and took out an oil line. The resulting fire quickly flamed out and no one was hurt. As we were checking out the damage, the bottom fell out of the sky as a huge thunderstorm rolled into the area.

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The first racer up to the big wall in Lane 2 after that rain was Brandon Haynes. The following picture of Brandon is proof that Creighton of Maxxis tires won't even look at a BFG equipped buggy. Even as one is about to squash him!


The last climb in lane 2 after the rain completely rearranged the top 6. Brian Shirley was smoking hot all day in his new-to-him Campbell buggy and took a bad bounce at the top of the climb and snagged two sections of the banner, thus adding 2 full penalty minutes to his score. Needless to say, this put him out of a closely contested top 6 finish even though he was number one going into the run.

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The next victim of the ultra slick course was Kim Sears. Kim had been getting faster and faster all day, putting in her best run on her 3rd. With the racers in front of her timing out or breaking on the muddy hill in Lane 2, Kim and husband "Droopy" had a strategy to try it once and then start stacking rocks and then pull winch cable as the last resort. All that was moot as Kim launched her sky blue racer up the gnarly climb only to carry too much momentum into the rocks. As she pitched sideways, Kim said he foot came off the throttle and she could not drive out of the roll. Sadly, although she spanked the climb, she rolled downhill just inches from the finish line.

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The next victim of "the hill" on lane 2 was Derek West. As Derek punished his buggy to crest the top of the sloppy hill, he shattered an inner axle taking him out of the race and the top 6 finalist on his last run.

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The final victim of "the hill" was Rusty Bray. Rusty was having a "top 6" day before the rain. Unfortunately for him, like Derek and Brian he had to get past this hill to maintain his position. The holes proved too much as he fought to the bitter end before he timed out.

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Never to disappoint, Doc Nazir and Wyatt Pemberton put on a great show in their last runs as well.


Ken Blume beat his buggy like it owed him money, but was smiling as he timed out.


As light rain continued to fall, the XRRA team of professionals tallied the top 6 scores.


The rain and mud rearranged some of the top drivers from the first 4 runs and left us with an excellent group for the top 6:

6) East Coast racer Chris May made his first appearance in the top 6. 5) Josh Murray was in the top 6 for the second time in the eastern series. 4) West Coast racer and XRRA veteran JT Taylor. 3) Adam Carter was in for the third time this season. 2) 16 year old Levi Shirley was in second place going into the show. 1) Veteran Doug Bigelow was sitting neatly in first place and ready to rumble.

First up were Chris May and Josh Murray. Luckily for the racers, Weaver and Company chose to reverse the course to the direction the racers ran in the morning. By doing this, they eliminated "the hill" that took West, Bray and Blume out of a shot at the finals. Both racers made flawless runs, putting the pressure on the 4 racers in front of them.

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Next, JT Taylor and Adam Carter squared off. This is the first time I had ever watched JT race. From all that I had ever read and seen from previous races, JT is a certified wild man behind the wheel. Although this is usually the case, JT took a conservative aproach today and it earned him a spot in the finals. Unfortunately for him, he took a bad line down the first hill in lane 1, hooked a tree on the inside of his front passenger tire and dumped his Tube Shark racer in its lid to end his day. Adam, motored on by for a clean and fast run.

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Bigelow and Levi squared off last for an epic race, both drivers trying to buy precious seconds to keep the other at bay.

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Chris May and Josh Murray both had excellent last laps.

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JT Taylor was not able to get his racer back on the course for his second lap so Adam Carter made a beautiful final run.

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The last match up was for the championship. Doug Bigelow and Levi Shirley were neck and neck going into the last lap. Both came on strong. Doug was really smoking as he pulled out of the pit for the first time and in a shocking turn of events, he hit a rock and the buggy's nose came up and over and he rolled out of bounds and was disqualified for the run. Seeing his opponent roll, Levi stepped back a notch and ran the bases for home and the win.


The race was fantastic. The final lineup was:

1) Levi Shirley
2) Adam Carter
3) Josh Murray
4) Chris May
5) Doug Bigelow
6) JT Taylor

Congratulations to all of the winners!

I saw some great driving at Hannibal Rocks for round 3 of XRRA East. Racers like Jason Aliff, Stan Haynes, Ken Mercer, Dave Smith, Doc Nazir and Wyatt Pemberton were all back from the past events and driving better than ever. It has been really cool seeing these guys progress in their driving skills as the year goes on. Last night as my buddy Carl and I were discussing the coming race, I told him that in the XRRA East, anyone of the racers in the series could have a podium finish. Although the series is full of big names, the newbies are really putting on the pressure as the series evolves. Look for a fresh set of names next month at the Badlands in Indiana!

See you guys on the trail.

The Rock Midget www.rockmidgetphotgraphy.com www.hannibalrocks.com

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