Monster Energy Kawasaki off-road racers kicked-off the opening rounds of the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) ATV/UTV season at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif.
Muzzy’s Kawasaki driver Dan Kelly powered his Kawasaki Teryx to the top of the podium in the SxS Production 850 class with fellow Teryx drivers David Lytle in second and Funco Kawasaki’s Garrett George in fifth. In the SxS Production 1000 class, Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor George finished 10th while Muzzy’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Robert VanBeekum blew a tire while leading the pack and had to pull off the track.
After a series of storms inundated the track at Glen Helen Raceway with more water than it could absorb, racers knew the opening round of the WORCS ATV season would be nothing short of a mug bog. Muzzy’s Kawasaki pilot Kelly came into the weekend with a single goal, to just finish the 45-minute race, regardless of position. When the gate dropped Kelly nailed the holeshot and led wire-to-wire to take the win in the SxS Production 850 class.
Battling through the tight and congested course, Kawasaki Teryx driver Lytle commanded the runner-up spot on the podium in the SxS Production 850 class not far behind Kelly. Rounding out the top-five was Funco Kawasaki’s Garrett George. After the first round of competition, Kawasaki drivers took home three of the top five spots in the SxS Production 850 class.
“ The WORCS series has always had a great following,” says Kawasaki’s Senior Manager of Racing Reid Nordin. “Since they began UTV racing and now they’re adopting ISA (International Side X Side Association) rules, we expect the UTV counts will continue to increase. We want to compete against the best UTVs out there. If this last weekend was any indication of the future of the series, WORCS is the place to be. I really think ATV owners are troopers, they want to compete against the best, and that is where Kawasaki wants to be as well.”
The Funco Dynasty
The George family’s Funco factory race teams have been expanding every year and are well on their way to becoming a racing dynasty. While Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Chad George has made a name for himself and his family in the Championship Off Road Racing Series (CORR) and Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) picking up four-consecutive championships in his Teryx, his cousins are looking to take over the WORCS ATV/UTV series. For the 2012 race season, Funco will be competing in two classes with Garrett George in the SxS Production 850 class and Taylor George running the SxS Production 1000 class.
“We knew this mud bog race would not be about horsepower, it was more about endurance,” says Funco Team Owner Grant George. “Our strategy going into the WORCS series was different from our LOORRS strategy. In the WORCS it’s more about preparation and skilled driving versus flat-out horsepower. Right now the WORCS series is the only place we can go race and get a good run for our money. There were almost 50 entrants in the first round of the WORCS, so it’s definitely a more competitive environment, and that’s exactly where we want to be.”
In her first-ever WORCS race, Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor George finished 10th in a stacked field of racers. Driving a modified version of the high-horsepower Teryx Chad George ran in the LOORRS, her finesse behind the wheel coupled with the UTV’s powerful CNG-prepped Kawasaki V-Twin engine, makes Taylor a top contender in the series.
In the SxS Production 1000 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s VanBeekum was dealt a third-row start for the main event and knew making passes on 20 UTVs in front of him on the one-lined, muddy course was going to be a challenge. In the main event, VanBeekum got a good start and put on a serious charge. He found a couple of places to make moves and went to work weaving around competitors. By the halfway point he had moved through a field of more than 20 racers and pulled into the lead. However, a flat tire eventually forced him off the track and out of the race early.
“I almost grabbed the holeshot, but slid out of the corner and recovered in third,” says VanBeekum. “I was moving pretty good through the course the first few laps. Since the tops of the whoops were still dry I was able to make a lot of passes in that section. By the fourth or fifth lap I had more than 300 pounds of mud on the Teryx and was bottoming out on the whoops. I ended up passing over 20 racers to take the lead, but then halfway through the race I blew a tire and that was it.”