Josh Blyler wins the Tear Down in Tennessee Unlimited Class as all classes competed in South Pittsburg, TN, for round 2 of the ULTRA4 Racing East Series
June 26, 2021 (South Pittsburg, TN) – ULTRA4 Racing returned to the Adventure Offroad Park in South Pittsburg, TN, for the Method Race Wheels Tear Down in Tennessee. Round 2 of the Eastern series put drivers into an “endurance sprint” around the punishing 6.75 loop in the Tennessee woods. The 4400 Unlimited class did 7 laps, while the Yukon Gear and Axle 4500 Modified class, Can-Am 4900 UTV class, and the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends class each did 5 laps. The popular Spidertrax 4600 Stock class did 4 laps as vehicles were pounded and drones were downed.
ULTRA4 Racing is known for vehicles that can race multiple types of terrain with confidence and authority. The “Swiss Army Knife” of off-road racing, this course challenged the speed and navigation elements of off-road racing. Tennessee was designed to really push the limits on tight woods racing with an increase in rocks for this year. “I wanted to put the 4 back in ULTRA4 for this race.” said Race Director, JT Taylor. So far this year, drivers have pushed themselves in rocks, dirt, dust, mud, prairies, and now thick, single track woods racing. The driver standing at the end of the year on top of the box will have proved they can race in anything.
Taking the pole in the Spidertrax 4600 Stock class was 2-time race winner Jon Schaefer looking for his 3rd victory in 3 years, followed by Tyler Haggard in 2nd and Andrew Harper third off the line. The Can-Am 4900 UTV class pole was taken by lightning fast Todd Beckett who beat out over 30 other drivers, followed by Cody Martin, and Adam Kinnett. Texas and Cooper Tire driver Cody St. Clair took the Yukon Gear and Axle 4500 Modified class pole, followed by Duane Garretson 2nd off the line, and Jesse Oliver 3rd.
In the Branik Motorsports 4800 Legends class, it was wildly successful driver Casey Gilbert who earned the extra 7 points for taking the pole, followed by Shaun Rajski and Trevor Fults. The HUGE story and surprise of the day, however, was 4800 class driver Cade Rodd stepping up to the 4400 Unlimited class and taking the pole position against a STACKED field of 4400 drivers. “#ChipHappens” Chip MacLaughlin qualified 2nd off the line and 2-time King and defending race winner Erik Miller would be starting 3rd.
Race day was clear skies, humidity, and sunshine in the South. Teams and drivers were amped up for the start of the race with UTV’s kicking off at 8 AM, followed by a special 170 Kids race, then the Every Man Challenge classes (Stock, Modified, and Legends) during mid-day, and the 4400 Unlimited class kicking off at 3:30 PM to close out the day.
The race format was a total number of laps within a specific amount of time. While “clean air” wasn’t as much of an advantage as it is in desert racing, how to avoid a bottle neck pile up in the tight trees and challenging rocks was a massive concern. Cars started in 30 – 45 second increments (depending upon number of cars in each race) and was scored based on adjusted time. While pit strategy for fueling wasn’t a big factor, this course was known for eating tires and teams had their pit crew strategies on point and ready for anything. While there were brief periods where cars could open it up, the “endurance sprint” description was most apt. A driver would never let up, rest, or check out at any point during this race.
The first class off the line was the Can-Am 4900 UTV class. The UTV class was the largest group on course with drivers from all over taking part in the fun, including a couple of “First Round on Us” drivers (for the 2021 season, the first round of racing fees are on us [ULTRA4] at your first regional race). Cars started ripping off the line and into the Tennessee woods at the drop of the green flag. Debuting a new CanAm car, veteran Jamie McCoy once again showed why he’s a top driver and powered his way to the top of the podium for his 2nd Eastern series victory having won earlier this year at the 4WP Battle in Bluegrass. Hot on his heels was original pole setter Todd Beckett sporting the additional 7 bonus points and rounding out the podium was Jody Ford making a triumphant return to the podium.
The mid-day race was a combination of the Branik Motorsports 4800 Unlimited class, the Yukon Gear and Axle Modified class, and the Spidertrax 4600 Stock class. Despite all being on course at the same time, each class was only racing against itself in adjusted time format with points being awarded based on number of laps completed and time in which they were completed.
Starting with a stacked field with almost 25 cars in just the 4800 Legends Class alone, the hills were swallowed up in the sound of horsepower and the smell of race fuel as they tore off the line. Incredible battles ensued at the front of the pack with a couple of Miller Motorsports cars driven by Casey Gilbert and Casey Ryan (driving for George Schooley) mixed it up with Chris May, father of “Hurricane Raleigh” who won the 170 Youth race earlier in the day, Justin Barth, and Ryan Taylor. Lap traffic, trees, and slick hill climbs kept the race in suspense right up until the very end. Once the timing had been check and adjusted for corrected time, it was Chris May taking the second trophy for the May family of the day and winning the 4800 Class! Chris was followed by a pair of Casey’s. Casey Ryan (driving for George Schooley) claimed 2nd place and 2020 class winner Casey Gilbert rounded out the podium in 3rd.
The Yukon Gear and Axle 4500 Modified class had a brutal battle of attrition as the Tennessee woods were not kind to Modified cars. Jesse Oliver outdrove and outlasted his fellow competitors, completing all 5 laps in just under 3 hours and taking the top spot on the podium while also taking out a drone in one of the live stream highlight moments. 2nd place was secured by pole setter Cody St. Clair who raced a strong race, and 2020 winner Duane Garretson rounded out the podium in 3rd place.
Last off the line was the Spidertrax 4600 Stock Class, featuring stock looking rigs that fans of all ages could identify with. Familiar victor and pole setter Jon Schaefer was first off the line, but Tyler Haggard worked his way in front as Jon and co-driver John Dicus battled mechanical and part delivery issues all day. Anthony Vanoy battled to 2nd place, and 2-time winner Jon Schaefer held on for 3rd. Part of the appeal of the Spidertrax Stock class is the variety of vehicles competing. In this event, however, a full size was not the right choice for the tight woods and steep hills.
After some time to clear the course of all the dead cars, the 4400 Unlimited class started a bit later than scheduled. Drivers had been sitting in the south Tennessee heat for almost and hour and were READY to go racing. The green flag dropped, and Cade Rodd showed that his pole position was not a fluke! Ripping through the woods, Cade lead the pack as they blasted into the woods for 7 challenging laps of fun.
With multiple Kings (Erik Miller and Josh Blyler) in the field, you knew it was going to be an all-out sprint to the end. Flat tires, lap traffic, and good old-fashioned competition kept the race close all day long. Pit Crews became as important as drivers. Team Erik Miller changed a power steering pump in under 10 minutes to get him back on course. With losing that much time, Erik shifted from “save the car” to “go as fast as I can” and took it to another level, working furiously to chase down Cade Rodd, who would not give up the physical lead.
When the checkered flag came out, it was Cade Rodd in the physical lead, but on corrected time, 2021 Battle in Bluegrass and King of the Hammers 2020 winner Josh Blyler had barely edged out Cade on adjusted time, making up just enough time on the final lap to win by less than 3 minutes. 3rd place was taken by Erik Miller who set the fastest lap of the day on his 7th and final lap.
Fourth place was captured by Kevin Porterfield who was blazing fast all day and finished just barely off the box. Tad Dowker was firth, Brian Reid sixth. John Grounds – who has raced in every single event this season and finished 2nd at the Big Sky 200 – came in seventh place, followed by legendary Jason Shipman in eighth, Zandy Willems in ninth, and fellow Texan John Moul rounded out the top 10. Congratulations to all our competitors for a fantastic event that was described as “an old school Ultra4 event where some racing broke out”. Friend, family, racers, and sponsors alike had a blast in Tennessee.
To earn National Championship points, drivers must compete in KOH as well as Nationals (October 15th and 16th in Davis, OK), plus at least 3 regional races. The 2021 Method Race Wheels Tear Down in Tennessee was a thrilling 2nd round of the Eastern series and tightened the battle for national points in all the classes. Next up is an epic U4 race debut at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD, to help kick off Bike Week. Thrilling short course action, beautiful scenery, concerts, thousands of bikes, and ULTRA4 racing… what’s not to love?
Content provided by Ultra4 Racing.
- 4400 Unlimited Class: Josh Blyler
- 4800 Legends Class: Chris May
- 4500 Modified Class: Jesse Oliver
- 4600 Stock Class: Tyler Haggard
- 4900 UTV Class: Jamie McCoy
- 2020 – 4400 Unlimited Class: Erik Miller
- 2020 – 4800 Legends Class: Jeremy Jones
- 2020 – 4500 Modified Class: Duane Garretson
- 2020 – 4600 Stock Class: Jon Schaefer
- 2020 – 4900 UTV Class: Jamie McCoy