With temperatures continuing to soar in Arizona's populated valleys, AZOP once again brought racers and spectators to the rural mountains to stage a weekend of off-road racing action in the sleepy hamlet of Saint Johns. For the eighth round of the AZOP Rowley White RV Series action was split between a Saturday Grand Prix format and a Sunday Hare Scramble with an extremely unique track featuring the Blue Hills OHV area. As has been the case all year, the race - which was presented by MRT-MotoRaceTire.com, SinFab Industries, and El Camino Restaurant - brought out a large number of spectators and an impressive list of entrants across all the classes.
The Grand Prix racing on Saturday ran on a short, snaking loop in mostly sandy terrain with big bermed corners, wide-open straights, and some legitimately scary blind drop-offs into hidden washes. Continuing the theme of the summer, Saint Johns had not seen significant rain for several weeks prior to the race so dust became an immediate issue as the track was dry as a bone and could not be watered. As a result, the start of each race was a full-blown sprint for the apex of the first corner to try to secure a spot ahead of the dust.
Sunday's Hare Scramble used the same starting area and ran a partial lap of the Grand Prix course before breaking off and making several long wide open runs down paved farm roads to the access gate for the Blue Hills OHV area. Racers then ran a set number of laps in the Blue Hills before being sent back down the same farm roads in the opposite direction and back onto the Grand Prix course to take the checkered flag. The dust was not as much of an issue on Sunday because the Blue Hills area is comprised of badlands style hard-packed dried mud and gravel. The riding area, which is comprised of a large number of naked ridge lines and twisty canyons, made for a very unique up and down setting and challenged riders and drivers to traverse unique terrain as efficiently as possible.
The unusual format for the hare scramble posed a challenge for race officials as racers would have to be completely cleared from the first section of the course before the leader in each race had completed the prescribed number of laps in the Blue Hills. This meant that in addition to the official scoring trailer at the start/finish area, AZOP also had to have a separate scoring official set up at the entrance/exit gate for the OHV area keeping track of each vehicle to come by manually. Despite the potential for confusion, the races all went off without major incident and the track was widely praised for the unique challenge it presented.
AZOP next returns to beautiful Payson for two days of Grand Prix racing at the famous rodeo grounds off-road course on October 5th and 6th. Registration is open now!
As always AZOP would like to thank all of the sponsors, staff, volunteers, racers, and spectators for making this another successful and fun weekend of racing. For full race results, videos, and photos or to find out about upcoming events go to www.azopracing.com