Story by Charlene Bower
Photos by Josh England and Brent Bower
The VORRA Series has completed two rounds of racing at the Prairie City OHV Area in Folsom, CA. The green flag waved for the 35th year of action packed racing on March 20th. The crowd was thick and the racing was intense for the ATVs on Saturday and the Car and Truck classes on Sunday. The 35th year of racing brought some changes to the format including a 3 moto, 5 lap race competition which gave the drivers even more time behind the wheel. They also moved the ATV class to Saturday to grow a larger and more specific event for riders.
At the March race there were over 60 vehicles that competed for the purse monies. The legendary Sam Berri came out on top of Class 1 saying, "This was a great course to start the season off with. Challenging yet fun." I doubt there was anyone that disagreed including Steve Sullivan who took second place after replacing three transmissions over the course of the weekends testing and racing. In the Group T class, Jake Povey took his freshly built truck for the Mint 400 and rolled it in the first turn of the first moto. It was a huge disappointment, but he continued to compete in all motos and finished 4th to Ben Phillips.
There were two new classes that got introduced to the VORRA start line including the inaugural running of Ultra4 and also a Bug infestation with Class 11. The Ultra4 class brought a new type of high paced racing to the technical short course. The big-tired 4wheel drive vehicles battled in each of the races and had spectacular finishes for every moto! Jason Scherer and Kevin Yoder had a photo finish in the second Moto after Scherer worked his way up the entire field. At the end of the three motos, the points settled with Brad Falin taking the overall win. Kevin Yoder, the 2009 Sportsman Class Champion, came in second place and said "Thanks VORRA for making a place for Rock Buggies to wreck their junk."
On Saturday, it was a new wave of opportunities for the VORRA ATV racers. "I'm tired of the Quads getting the leftovers of the trucks and cars, and the leftovers of motocross events. This is a Quad race and its all for you," said event director Wes Harbor during the preliminary drivers meeting.
Almost exactly a month later, the whole VORRA family loaded up their rigs and headed back to the Prairie City OHV Park for round two of short course racing. The track was slightly different adding a tight inside left hand turn that challenged the big cars, and a double jump on the backside downhill that made quite a few drivers pucker as they attempted to clear it.
Sunday's Car and Truck racing had the pits full of powerful vehicles. Sam Berri had his hands full in his desert car against Tim Compton's Drakart Buggy, but after a few laps of racing in the first moto Compton lost his chain drive and Berri took the Class 1 win.
Brad Falin took his second overall win for the weekend in the Ultra 4 Class with Kevin Yoder in second place and Jason Scherer in third. There was a driver change in the Trent Fab car from Chris Ridgway to Derek Trent, who ended his day early with mechanical problems not even able to start the third moto. Greg Hussy was there cheering on the other Ultra4 drivers with his broken back, and also missing this round was John Goodby.
The GroupT class has become one of the more entertaining classes to watch with the mixture of 4, 6 and 8 cylinder trucks all running wheel to wheel. The V8 guys are not finding it easy to slingshot around the lighter, nimble trucks due to the suspension, weight and engine displacement rules. With neck-to-neck battles often dependent on whether or not the driver took the double jump, Ben Phillips was the overall winner in his 4 cylinder powered Trophy Lite with Mike Koenig in second.
Class 11's Bug Invasion brought four "Herbie" cars to the start line, and the crowd to their feet. Everyone was cheering for their favorite color as all four of them cut it up around the track. No, they did not attempt the double jump, but most did get big air off the finish line jump. Bob Messer took first for the day after seeing the checker flag 2 out of 3 motos with Gary Herrod settling for second. In Class 9, Jay Schroeder took first and Kathy Keller came in second with a broken ball joint ending her day early.
The grudge match of the weekend was between the two brothers, VORRA announcer BJ Butcher and brother Tristen Butcher who took to the track for Moto 2 of Class 10. BJ, in the Red Team Racing car, took the holeshot but Tristan, in Tyler Mort's car, nudged by him in the first lap at the new "paperclip" turn. BJ didn't give up and in a gutsy pass after the dreaded double, he took the checker flag. Overall winners of Class 10 were Patrick Timmons and Steve Bradford. There was also great racing action in the Sportsman class with Terry Shelton taking the class win, and VORRA's Nathan McBride took second. The VORRA family is active in the sport and it's that insight that makes them strive so hard to make every race a great race for the participants.
The biggest growth class for this year has been the UTV class with seven cars showing up for the green flag. Stock and modified UTV's set the pace around the track and battled for the win. The consistency of finishes put Jon Crowley on the podium with Scott Lentz in second. The everlasting Pilot class had an overall winner of Aaron Rupley and Miles Berghold in second.
"This was another great round of racing," exclaimed Wes Harbor, VORRA race promoter. "Now we get to see what these drivers and cars are made of out in the desert." The VORRA series heads for Nevada to 4 desert races before they will return to finish the season with two final short course events in October. The first desert race will be a 300 mile race in Yerington, NV over Memorial Day weekend.