Save for sounds of tractor engines and occasional cars, McElmo Canyon is usually serene throughout the summer months. Such serenity was interrupted on Aug. 16 however, when more than 70 off-road vehicles arrived in the Canyon to compete in a major off-road race.
Hosted by the W.E. Rock Dirt Riot Endurance Series, the race, which was held at Battle Rock Off-Road Park, required vehicles to traverse a variety of rock, sand and water terrain.
Traveling as fast as 70 mph on some parts of the course, rigs with shiny paint, modified suspensions and big engines flipped mud into the air while eliciting cheers from those in attendance.
Clearly excited by the success of the race and thrilled to be hosting an event in the Cortez area, W.E. Rock Dirt Riot president Rich Klein discussed what makes 4x4 racing in Cortez special.
“(The Battle Rock Off-Road Park) is a great course,” said Klein. “It offers so much different terrain. A few cars broke axles earlier, but overall, things are going great. This is what off-road racing is all about.”
Among the drivers who enjoyed a great deal of success at the event was Castle Rock resident Chris Hoyt, who, took top honors in the 4400 Professional Class. Finishing a bit behind Hoyt was Cortez driver Randy Rodd, who took eighth place overall.
Competing in the Trail Class, Colorado Springs-based driver Matt Peterson took first overall. Local driver Cody Folsom also enjoyed an impressive showing, finishing fourth.
“I’ve been competing in 4x4 races for a few years now,” said Folsom. “My dad and I were always into off-road vehicles and eventually, I decided to try racing. These events are so much fun and its great to have a race so close to home.”
Other event winners included Kevin Rants, who took first in the Stock Class, and Brian Fisher, who took first in the UTV Class.
Among the drivers who failed to win first overall, yet still relished the racing experience was 17-year-old Bailey Campbell, who placed tenth overall in the Professional Class.
“I’m still somewhat new to racing, but my dad has been doing this for a long time and he has been helping me,” said Campbell. “I just try to drive as fast as I can and stay on the course.”
While no further W.E. Rock racing events will occur in Cortez this year, the series plans to return next year for more exciting racing action.
“We’re always happy to come to Cortez and promote the sport,” said Klein. “Cortez has a great off-road racing community and Jimmy’s 4x4 is here. We’ll be back for sure.”