Record numbers at annual endurance race
A record-breaking 159 teams, including racers from 20 states and the United Kingdom, took part in the 8th Annual GBC Motorsports Heartland Challenge in Iowa. Racers competed in 18 classes across four different races.
Preparations began on Thursday, August 20th as racers and their families began to roll into the event campgrounds. At 1pm racers Johnny Gallagher, Walker Fowler and GBC’s Kory Ellis hosted a four-hour riding clinic.
The Friday festivities kicked off with check-in and tech inspections for the day’s races: the 1.5-hour Polaris Ace Challenge and the four-hour UTV Challenge. At 3pm GBC hosted an afternoon barbecue for riders and their families as the Ace class competitors embarked on their laps around the Heartland course. After 13 laps the team of Rush-Boyd Team UXC2 from Gillette, Wyo. claimed the top spot in the Ace class race.
As the sun began to sink in the sky, more than 60 UTVs crowded the starting area for the four-hour UTV Challenge. Racers sprinted to their vehicles, fired them up, and roared into the first turn of what would be a long and arduous race.
After four hours of racing through the challenging course in the dark, Team Jack’s Can-Am from Jefferson, Pa. took the UTV 1000 victory and also claimed the prestigious Overall top spot amongst the 60+ teams. Team RJ Performance from Ottumwa, Iowa bested the UTV 900 class and the second spot overall, while Team Torn Racing from Arlington, Tex. topped the UTV 800 class.
While the UTV racers might have stayed up late receiving their awards and celebrating their victories, it was an early bedtime for the children slated to participate in the next morning’s three-hour Youth ATV Race. Saturday morning came early, and by 8am there were 17 children lined up ready to compete for four different class titles.
The kids ran a modified course and Team Bananas from Carlisle, Iowa took the 90cc Production class and the Overall victories after completing 25 laps. Team K-N-D Racing from Jamesport, Mo. took the win in the 90cc Stock class, while Team 2 Fast 2 Strokes from Phill, Iowa won the 70cc Production class and Team DRR Madness from North Platte, Neb. topped the 50cc Production class.
Following the Youth race awards ceremony and a quick lunch break, participants in the premier 10-hour Adult ATV Challenge prepared to begin one of the most difficult races imaginable. Set to run from 1:30-11:30pm, teams and ironman competitors spent 10 hours battling the course, fatigue, and the transition from daytime to night time racing. As the race got underway and 76 riders hit the course to compete for nine different class titles and the coveted Corn Cob Trophy, which was awarded to each of the class winners.
The field of riders attacked the course, but employed their race strategies, as both riders and machines would be tested early and often during the 10-hour marathon. The course took riders through a wide variety of terrain, including dense forests, wide open grassy stretches, and the infamous Challenge section of the track with obstacles of all sorts.
Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench in the works and add yet another variable to the always changing conditions: lightning with heavy rains. As riders slipped and slid around the increasingly muddy course, race officials put the event on hold around the seven-hour mark to let the lightning pass.
By the time it had passed, the course had become impassable from the heavy rains and officials called the race. Team Yamaha from Aurora, Ohio, led by Johnny Gallagher, claimed the AA Class win and top Overall spot, taking possession of the Corn Cob Trophy. Team UXC out of Lewisburg, Tenn. took the win in the 4×4 Pro Class, while Matt Lindle bested the Ironman Class and Team Mickelberry won the Women’s Class.