California City, CA The final race of the 2021 Yokohama Tire Jeepspeed Race Series Presented by KMC Wheels was held in Cal City, CA, a unique place that is known for being the city that never quite made it. Originally designed to be a rival to Los Angeles, it spans the third-largest land area of any city in the state of California, but has roughly 14,000 inhabitants. It became a symbol of big dreams, and land speculation. The desert landscape in Cal City has plenty of terrain for desert racing, and the two-day Best In The Desert event brought an end to the speculation surrounding who would win the championships in each of the Jeepspeed categories.
The Jeepspeed series has classes for different levels of modifications. The Jeepspeed Challenge Class (1700 Stock), is the most popular and most affordable class. Trucks in this class must use off the shelf parts readily available to the general public and are allowed limited options for modification. It’s old school racing at its finest. Next up is the Jeepspeed Cup Class (2700 Intermediate). This Intermediate Class for Jeep and Dodge production based vehicles allows more modifications than the limited Class 1700. The Jeepspeed Outlaws Class (3700 Modified), allows Jeep or Dodge sport utility vehicles and light trucks that are recognizable as a Jeep or Dodge by brand grill, hood and fenders. The larger wheelbase and engine limits allow several more recent models such as 4 Door Wranglers and Dodge trucks to participate. At the top is the Jeepspeed Trophy Class (4700 Open). This is the Open Class with the least restrictions. Vehicles in this class must be Jeep or Dodge sport utility vehicles and light trucks that are recognizable as a Jeep or Dodge by brand grill, hood and fenders. Large motors, long travel suspension, and custom chassis are all allowed in this class.
One of the greatest attributes of the Jeepspeed series is its fierce competition. Since all the vehicles are closely matched, races, and championships usually come down to the final race of the season, and 2021 was no different. Ten different teams competed in the Jeepspeed Challenge class this season. Drivers of record included Mark Kammerlohr, Steve Palmieri, Tim Martin, Ken Tichy, Kyle Gieselmann, Joel Miner, Michael Bosley, Scott Biehl, Catarino Quiroz, and Bryan Reagan. Coming into Cal City, the top three in the standings were all in a tight battle for the championship. After two days of racing on the challenging Cal City course, the results were as follows: Mark Kammerlohr took the win, Steve Palmieri was second, and Ken Tichy third.
“The Cal City Desert Challenge lived up to the name,” said Mark Kammerlohr. “It was two days of challenge as the "green" course got well-worn after day one of racing. It created a different style for day two. Our Flip N' The Bird Team was without the bird as he was stuck working, but we were able to replace him with the more than capable and very familiar Ian Massey. He did a great job co-dawging for the two days. The nature of the race changed for our team when we learned that the 1772 (Tim Martin), was not going to be able to make it. Entered in the race along with us was the 1776 (Steve Palmieri), and our unofficial team mate, the 1706 (Ken Tichy). As the first race of the day, we were up before the sun checking over the jeep and getting ready for staging. The day one race began and we were eleventh off the line. The thirty mile course was laid out with a slew of right and left hand ninety degree or greater turns but also had some high speed sections and a rocky "goat" trail in the last couple miles. We set out at a pace that was very conservative and wanted to use the first lap as a "sight" lap to see where we could attack it and where we needed to be conservative. At mile eight or so the 1776 caught us and passed when I missed one of the sharp turns. Now we were in his dust and just putting in miles. The early morning weather was a little damp and the wind seemed to stop completely so we were in dust for much of the race. Again, trying not to hurt the jeep, we ran a smooth pace and finished. Unfortunately, it turned out to be almost five minutes behind the 1776. After day one we looked over jeep and took care of prep for the next day. Since we didn't beat up the Jeep, prep was minimal, and we got to watch some of the other classes race. Seeing them chew up the track, we knew that day two was going to be a different beast. While the 1776 took the day one checker, they had to do some work on the steering so I know they were driving hard.”
“On day two, we set out with a plan to see how the course changed and to do our best to make up five minutes to take the overall win. With this type of course and distance, it was unlikely, but in desert racing we all know anything can happen. Based on our time from the day before, we started sixth with the 1776 right in front. With the starting interval being a minute, we knew if we caught them quick then we could be on the way to making up the time. I did my best to catch them early and while I got close a couple of times I couldn't get past them in the dust. When the dust cleared, I saw the vehicle ahead was a TrophyLite and the 1776 was nowhere in sight. I got past the TrophyLite in a rocky hilly section. As we came over a rise, I saw the 1776 stopped on the side of the course. We slowed and they appeared good so we pushed to the end of lap one. Coming out of the pits I could see the 1706 coming into the infield section behind us; they were on a tear. Second lap out we knew what was in store and we pushed harder. We had no issues and as we leave the pits to start lap three, our crew radios Ian to give an update; 1776 had a control arm issue, 1706 is two minutes back. 1706 started almost four minutes behind us! I knew they couldn't win the overall, but they could still win the day so we started pedaling as hard as we could. We were fast and had clean air by now so it was just a solid cruise to the finish. We crossed the line in first place and with the season points championship. The 1706 lost a driveshaft at mile twenty eight ending their chance to pass us for the day. Both the 1776 and the 1706 got put back together and finished all three laps.”
Steve Palmieri’s second place finish in Cal City allowed him to edge out Tim Martin for second in the 1700 points championship. Tim Martin earned third place in the championship. Ken Tichy’s third place at Cal City earned him fourth place in the championship. Michael Bosley rounded out the top five in championship standings.
“The 1706 team showed up at California City not quite knowing what to expect having never raced there before,” says Ken Tichy. “During tech we met the Mayor of the city; she was very gracious and happy to be hosting the race. Props to BITD and the City for putting on the event on such short notice. Day one was my day to drive with son Adam in the right seat. Our first lap was good; fighting thru the dust and rising sun until around mile 25 when Adam started calling out that the transmission temp was climbing above 220. By the time we got to the pit, the temp had climbed to 250 so we pulled in. The crew found that the trans fan had no power. They ran a hot wire from the battery and the fan sparked to life, so we were off for our second lap. Transmission temperature was now below 180 and the stop in the pit left us with clean air ahead. Unfortunately, the time spent in the pit caused us to get the grand prix style checked flag finish after only 2 laps. Day one ended with the car all good and only one close call with a 2 wheeled pass of one of the Hall cars that ended with Adam saying good save dad! Day two was Adam’s turn to drive with me in the right seat. We were expecting a different course from Saturday as the fast afternoon classes had probably chewed up the corners. We were right. The corners were now deep silt beds and the two wheel drive "School Bus" was struggling in the deep silt to stay on top. Adam did a great job; he never got stuck. Around mile 20 on lap one, the top light bar decided it didn't want to play anymore and started to come loose. I reached up to grab it and fortunately it broke off and I was able to pull it into the cab; Adam never slowed down. We stopped at the pit with a drive by to hand off the light bar and were out on lap two. Adam was on a mission to chase down the Jeeps that started 4 and 5 minutes ahead of us. On lap 3 we heard on the radio that 1776 was in the pit with a broken control arm, so Adam stepped it up another notch to hunt down Mark in the 1785 car. We were reeling in 1785 and could see his dust. We thought we must be in first on corrected time, but the desert had another plan. At mile 27.5 we lost the rear u joint and were dead on the course. We pushed the car off the course and surveyed the damage. We had broken one of the u bolts and damaged the u joint. We had the parts in our pit, so BITD recovery dropped off the part and Adam got the car fixed. The 1776 car passed us after they had repaired their control arm. We were able to finish lap 3 with a checkered flag for another third place finish. Congratulations to Mark in 1785 on his win for the weekend and the championship. Thank You to our pit crew John, Mike Barnett, Mike Craft, Reid Larson and our wives for all your help and support for a fun weekend of racing. Also thank you to Jeepspeed for putting on this great series!!
In the 2700 class, Larry Trim took home the championship, and the top three championship winners in 3700 were Jerry Simonson, Chris Mortensen, and Harley Coffland. The 4700 class was the final championship to be determined.
The 4700 class was very competitive from day one of the season. Billy Bunch, Rob Seubert, Jeff Harmonson, Garett Allred, Andrew Hulse, Brett Maister, and Jason Jernigan all competed in their open trucks. Rob Seubert suffered a rare crash during the season; putting the multi-time champion out of contention for the championship win. He still managed to finish on the podium in third. The top two spots were held by Andrew Hulse, and Jeff Harmonson. Jeff Harmonson would need every point available in Cal City to overcome Andrew Hulse’s point lead going into the race. Wins on both days in Cal City could make that happen.
“The Jeepspeed Trophy class has been fun, we had a good season,” said Jeff Harmonson. “The last minute change from Parker to Cal City worked in our favor; that’s where we do our testing. I ran my first desert race ever in Cal City. On day two the track was worn out. There were deep ruts and silt in the corners. In 2nd gear turning 7 thousand RPM’s we were barely moving in the sand. Saturday’s race was much faster. We were the second truck out on course. I liked it because we had lots of family and friends with us. There were 20 people in our pit. We had fun telling lies around the camp fire. When it starts getting tough out on course I keep going because I owe it to my crew. They put in long hours in the garage so I’m racing just as much for them as I am for myself. Winning in our own back yard was a great time for everyone.” Jeff earned every point possible, but Andrew Hulse and his Wolfpack team took the Jeepspeed top spot.
Jeepspeed racers are tough competitors who love a challenge. Thanks to strong sponsor support from Yokohama Tire, KMC Wheels, Jasper Racing Engines, GG Lighting, Rugged Radios, EVO Mfg., King Shocks, T&J Performance, and Action Sports Canopies they are able to compete at a fraction of the cost other classes spend. That’s why the Jeepspeed series is the longest running spec class in off road racing. It allows competitors to build their own trucks if they wish, as long as they follow simple rules to keep the playing field level. When you want to go faster, all you have to do is go to the next higher class that allows more modifications. Jeepspeed is responsible for bringing many new grassroots racers into the sport, as well as launching the careers of champions. The teams share a camaraderie that is unique in off road competition. They often team up with each other, or volunteer to help others in the pits. No other racing series compares when it comes to fun for the dollar.Jeepspeed racers are tough competitors who love a challenge. Thanks to strong sponsor support from Yokohama Tire, KMC Wheels, Jasper Racing Engines, GG Lighting, Rugged Radios, EVO Mfg., King Shocks, T&J Performance, and Action Sports Canopies they are able to compete at a fraction of the cost other classes spend. That’s why the Jeepspeed series is the longest running spec class in off road racing. It allows competitors to build their own trucks if they wish, as long as they follow simple rules to keep the playing field level. When you want to go faster, all you have to do is go to the next higher class that allows more modifications. Jeepspeed is responsible for bringing many new grassroots racers into the sport, as well as launching the careers of champions. The teams share a camaraderie that is unique in off road competition. They often team up with each other, or volunteer to help others in the pits. No other racing series compares when it comes to fun for the dollar.
Think you would like to give Jeepspeed racing a try? Now is the perfect time to make plans for next season. For the latest information about the Jeepspeed racing series go to www.jeepspeed.com. There you will find additional info, deals on some attractively priced race Jeeps, Jeepspeed news, rules, race results, videos, and much more. On the Jeepspeed forum, you can read more in-depth race reports from many of the Jeepspeed teams. Go check it out today!