After events in Vegas, Globe, and Goldendale, W.E. ROCK promoter
Rich Klein has returned home to Northern California. The return
has been somewhat bittersweet, as forest fires in the Tahoe
area burned out of control all week and extraction duties
had yet to be accounted for only days prior to the event.
In typical Klein fashion, these issues were resolved and the
3000 estimated spectators at Donner Ski Ranch for the final
event of the W.E. ROCK Western Nationals were none the wiser.
Coming in to the final Western event, Jason Paule has a slim
lead in the Unlimited class season standings ahead of Bruce
Zeller, with Tracy Jordan and Cody Waggoner tied for third.
Everyone wondered if locals like Waggoner, Jason Scherer,
and Jeff Mello would be able to take "home court advantage"
to finish ahead of the competition. In the Pro Modified class,
Brad Lovell sat in first before the event but needed a strong
finish in order to stay ahead of Brian Errea and Tim Florian
in their Twisted Customs built buggies. Troy Bailey has a
solid lock on the Modified Stock title, having finished first
in all three events thus far. The Formula Toy class was still
anyone's race, with Matt Messer, John James, and Hobie Smith
all in the hunt.
When the tires finally hit the courses the weather was hot,
as was the competition. Many were surprised to see Tracy Jordan
driving his moon buggy instead of the new Twisted Customs
two seater that he had in Goldendale. Engine management issues
forced Jordan to leave the two seater in Phoenix and bring
the moon buggy. After drawing a spot following Bruce Zeller
in his identical moon buggy, the decision seemed to be a wise
one. By the end of Saturday Jordan was 28 points ahead of
the next closest competitor in the Unlimited class, Shannon
Campbell. But with the spots reversed on Sunday he would not
have the luxury of following Zeller. Would Jordan's lead remain?
When Sunday morning came, Shannon Campbell was
able to whittle Jordan's lead down to sixteen points. Both
drivers made the huge bonus climb up B3, along with a few
other top drivers such as Bruce Zeller and Jason Paule. The
Shootout was held on the A4 course, with multiple bonus gates
to leave the win open to any of the top six finishers in the
Unlimited and Pro Mod classes. First up was Jason Scherer
in Tiny, followed by Jason Paule, Cody Waggoner, and Bruce
Zeller. Zeller and spotter George Poston were at a disadvantage
without functioning radios, but despite some communications
problems still managed to finish well. None of the four, however,
finished well enough to overcome their deficit behind Jordan.
Next up was Campbell, who took advantage of the rock racing
style Shootout to complete nearly all of the bonus gates under
the allotted time. It was all Campbell's brother and spotter
Nick could do to stay out of his way. He finished the Shootout
with an amazing -42, meaning that Jordan needed -27 points
to keep his lead. Unfortunately a hit cone at the start of
the course set the wrong tone for the run, and although Jordan
finished with a score of -24, it was not enough to hold off
Campbell. The finish was, however, good enough to earn Jordan
the win in the Western Nationals series.
The weekend action was in no way limited to
the top class. Thirteen Formula Toys showed up for the event
and eleven drivers for the exhibition class. In the exhibition
class, Jason Berger suffered a violent rollover on A2 and
Tom Wayes hydrolocked his engine, ending the day early for
both competitors. The standout in the exhibition class was
Mark Ruffing in a Spidertrax buggy. Had he been competing
for points he would have had a top five finish. Matt Messer
dominated the Formula Toys, finishing with -82 points, 73
points ahead of Brian Ellinger in second place.
Ellinger and spotter Dave Cole also competed
in the Pro Modified class along with 19 other competitors.
This class has really exploded since W.E. ROCK expanded the
rules to allow tube frames and full hydraulic steering. Even
with a square frame buggy the Lovell brothers who maintained
their lead all weekend in Pro Mod. Nipping at their heels
was Mike Shaffer, out of retirement from rockcrawling to pilot
Dave Schneider's buggy. Other top five finishers in Pro Mo
included the usual suspects, such as Dean Bulloch and Brian
Errea, along with Ben Hanks in his Maxxis buggy and Campbell
teammate Terry Dagen. Both Dagen and Bullock suffered hard
rolls on Saturday, but remained in the hunt until the end.
With the Western Nationals complete, Jordan
stands atop the Unlimiteds with Brad Lovell winning the Pro
Modified class. Troy Bailey swept every event for Modified
Stock and Matt Messer took the season the win in Formula Toy.
Next up for those who competed in all four events in each
series are the Grand Nationals Finals, to be held in Houston
in September. After that the top six qualifying teams in each
class will be heading down under for the World Championships
in Sydney, Australia. Until then, check out the scores below
and the photo gallery from Donner to get your competition
UNLIMITED CLASS SCORES
PRO MODIFIED CLASS SCORES
MODIFIED STOCK SCORES
FORMULA TOY SCORES