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John Stewart

Loften Wins Henderson 250

Fort Mill, SC – December 6, 2012.  For some, the Henderson 250 was a race to the Best In The Desert (BITD) championship.  For others, it was an opportunity to finish the 2012 BITD season with a bang.  And that’s just what NASCAR standout Justin Lofton did.  For the second year in a row, Lofton captured the Class 1500 win.

“It was an awesome weekend for all of us on the Lofton Racing Team,” said Lofton.  “We were bummed that we missed the pole by two-tenths of a second.  And I know exactly where that’s at, so it’s the most annoying thing in the world.

“We took the pre-runner out in the Sportsman’s Class and were able to get a quick peek at the track to make sure there were no holes out there.”  Lofton continued, “So when we got into the 1500 buggy, it was comforting to know what to expect.  Overall it was a great race.”

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John Stewart

Jeff Mello Celebrates His 100th Competition Win

Dave Cole and Jeff Mello Win Reno Rocks

DANVILLE, CA - JULY 10, 2009:   Jeff Mello celebrated his 100th competition win at the Reno Rocks WERock event June 19th and 20th at the Sands Regency Casino. After the team of Jeff Mello and spotter Dave Cole completed their final course in the Formula Toyota class and clinched the event win, Mello jumped on the roof of a vehicle he didn’t even own and claimed the victory.  

"I'm so happy my 100th win could come at such a fantastic event. Having Dave Cole as my spotter, the King of the Hammers preview, Pirate4x4.com coverage, and having my family here was the icing on the cake. The irony of having 99 wins all in Jeep brand vehicles and then the 100th in a Toyota is fine with me. Who would have thought," said Mello. The remarkable success of the Mello and Cole team shows they are winners no matter what they drive.  This particular Formula Toyota vehicle was new to both of them, so new that they had never even met the owner.

Mello's career has spanned over three decades and nine different disciplines of off-road racing. Starting in BMX and local mud racing, Mello evolved as a privateer into national events such as the Clear Channel Pro Arena/ Stadium series, eight rock crawling championships, King of the Hammers, and XRRA rock racing. He's earned wins on the international level both as UROC World Supercrawl Champion in 2003 and as a hired shoe for the Pirate4x4/ Shaffer's winning Jeepspeed in the 2007 SCORE Baja 1000. Other honorable mention wins include the 2002 Pro Rock Series with four back-to-back event wins, and the Stock Modified Championship. Mello is recognized as a driver who can get the vehicle onto the podium and claims his "race any thing" attitude toward seat time to be a keystone in his success.  He is always looking for the next ride and the next big challenge.

Jeff Mello runs a budget team that has had to find ingenious ways to get and maintain the vehicles to competition standards, and successfully does so weekend after weekend.  “We make winning financially smart, it’s part of the challenge for me,” says Mello.  “That’s just good business, and our sponsors and fans alike respect that about us.”  

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John Stewart

The Crown Goes East As Erik Miller Wins the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers

“I could not have done this without the help of my friends.  We have been in Johnson Valley for the past twelve days getting ready for this race,” the Maryland resident explained.  Miller is no stranger to success; he was the 2010 International Endurance Champion and came in fifth at last year’s Griffin King of the Hammers.  “I added Fox bypass shocks this year and they really helped me carry speed through the desert,” Miller revealed.   He is the first East Coast competitor to win the prestigious title in the event’s six year history.

Finishing second was Rick Mooneyham of Trick Toys Fabrication, thirteen minutes behind Miller.  “I just can’t seem to get this monkey off my back.” Mooneyham joked.  The Havasu City, Arizona resident placed third in ’08 and ’09 and fourth in ’10, making him one of the most consistent Ultra4 racers of all time.  Mooneyham qualified first in the 4Wheel Parts Time Trials, putting him first off the line.  He was near the front of the pack for the entire race, but the two-lap format meant the frontrunner had to deal with traffic in the infamous Hammer trails regardless of starting position.

Third place went to last year’s King Shannon Campbell in his single-seat IFS buggy.  Campbell overcame issues throughout the day and at one point was as far back as thirtieth, but he never gave up and finished in six hours and thirty three minutes.  Like Mooneyham, Campbell drove a vehicle he fabricated himself.  “I guess I am going to have to build something new for next year,” Campbell quipped.  He is the only driver to have won two King of the Hammers and was the 2011 Ultra4 Series Champion.

This year, the crowd far exceeded expectations.  Significant additions were made to the makeshift village known as “Hammertown” including a new short course and hot pit area.  In an effort to increase safety and expand the race day experience for spectators, the promoters built a cutting-edge wireless camera to microwave system across the vast course to bring true live coverage to the fans in camp via jumbotron and a nine and a half hour webcast to fans across the country and globe.

About Griffin King of the Hammers:
Griffin King of the Hammers combines the multiple off-road disciplines of desert racing, rockcrawling, and short course into one event. The race has evolved from twelve teams racing for bragging rights to more than 170 teams competing before tens of thousands of live spectators and hundreds of thousands of online fans.  Griffin King of the Hammers is the first event of the Ultra4 series, which takes place throughout the course of the year at locations across the country.  The event is owned and managed by Hammerking Productions in Lake Arrowhead, CA.  To learn more, log on to www.ultra4racing.com.

 

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John Stewart

Ultra4 Torchmate Stampede Bringing Horsepower to Reno this Weekend

The Ultra4 Torchmate Reno Stampede was created by the founders of King of The Hammers, which is regularly referred to as “the hardest one day off-road race in the world.” With more than 120 miles of brutal course laid out and only 8 hours to finish, The Torchmate Reno Stampede will prove to be just as hard, if not harder than this year’s King of The Hammers. Only 19 of 50 cars finished The Stampede last year and this year’s race is nearly double the miles. This weekend’s race will definitely test the limits of both Ultra4 cars and their drivers.

Some of the biggest names in Ultra4 Racing will be on hand this weekend, including this year’s King of The Hammers winner and current Ultra4 Series leader, Monster Energy’s Shannon Campbell and Torchmate Racing’s JT Taylor and Jesse Haines. Last year’s King of the Hammers winner, Loren Healy, and Aussie Ben Napier who is currently 2nd in the 2011 Ultra4 series will also be racing this weekend. Several drivers will be debuting new cars at this event in preparation for the 2012 King of the Hammers race.

There will be multiple parties and events for fans and drivers throughout the week at both Exit 28 Motorsports and the Grand Sierra Hotel in Reno, NV. Including an off road club challenge for most prepared off road vehicle at Grand Sierra Resort at 6PM on Friday night. Spectators will have their choice of viewing areas. Exit 32’s spectator area offers a short course section, views of the valley for high-speed racing and live action in the pits and concession areas. Exit 28 offers the gnarly rock crawl section known as Giant’s Throne where many spectators saw tons of carnage and rollovers at last year’s event. Spectators are encouraged to bring camp chairs and binoculars and will be able to travel between the two spectator areas. Admission is free on Friday for qualifying rounds and $20 for adults, and $10 for children on Saturday.  Fans will be able to save $5 on admission if they purchase their tickets Friday during the qualifying rounds!

For those that won’t be able to attend the race in person, live coverage will be available at www.ultra4racing.com/live. Any sites wishing to cover the live broadcasting are welcome to simulcast the broadcast. There will be IRC Tracking, Live Video Streaming and Chat with regular updates from teams and commentators throughout the course! For a full schedule of activities, additional spectator information and a list of driver’s please visit www.ultra4racing.com.

Ultra4 Racing is part of Hammerking Productions, Inc., creators of the “King of the Hammers” race termed, “the hardest one day off-road race in the world.” The Ultra4 series now includes six races, fived produced by Hammerking Productions. The 2011 Griffin King of the Hammers was the 5th event with over 150 drivers and 15,000 fans from around the globe in the desert of Johnson Valley.  Hammerking Productions has produced three full length feature films and multiple TV episodes around King of the Hammers.  For more information on Ultra4 Racing please visit www.ultra4racing.com/live or become a fan on Facebook.

 

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John Stewart

Freitas Offroad Motorsports Comes From The Back To Finish First In Class 1 At Vegas To Reno

Knowing that in order to finish first, first you must finish, Garrick took a more conservative approach to this year’s race.  This philosophy netted him a starting position of 26th from Friday’s qualifying, well back from his 9th place qualifying position at last year’s race.  Even that did not cause him to deviate from his game plan though, and the Tulare, California resident knew that he had to remain patient to overcome not only the 38 other Class 1500 competitors vying for the win, but also the 549 miles of brutal Nevada desert.

When the green flag dropped, Garrick quickly settled in to a fast and sustainable pace in his Jimco Champion with his father Danny navigating.  “Everything just fell into place today,” Garrick noted at the finish line.  “We were 2nd in points coming into Vegas to Reno last year and the wreck basically ended our season.  I was not about to make the same mistakes this year; my goal was to finish the race without any flat tires.”  This strategy, combined with skillful and efficient pitting from his family and friends, resulted in Freitas never getting passed while in the pits.  Instead, Garrick passed many other teams dealing with mechanical issues to move forward in the field.  Approximately half way from Vegas to Reno, at Race Mile 219, Danny Freitas gave up the passenger seat to Garrick’s cousin Trevor, who navigated Garrick to victory.   “We have been very consistent and had strong finishes but it sure feels good to win, especially after what happened last year at this same race,” Garrick humbly confessed following the race.

After 10 hours of fierce competition, Freitas finished just five minutes behind the overall winner and ten minutes ahead of current Class 1500 leader Steve Appleton.  The class victory catapulted Freitas and his team from 4th in season points up to 2nd place and puts them right in the hunt for the $9000 Camburg “Best In The Desert” award for the fastest average speed over every mile of every race for the season.  Freitas and his team now return home to Tulare, California to prep their Jimco Champion for the BITD Bluewater Desert Challenge on October 14-16 in Parker, Arizona.

 

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