For those who are regulars at Glen Helen, seeing various motorized things getting big air is just the SOP. However, the Jump Champs weekend was a little different than the regular racing that normally happens there as Jump Champs is was a chance for anybody to take off and be somebody.
For a first time event, the Jump Champs, held May 6-8, 2016, went off fairly smoothly, even as the promoters took on not only the jumping competition they put together a nearly 1.5 mile off road course, too. The “Time Trials” portion, run as an against the clock competition with no other vehicles on the track with a short course as well as a desert course, took all 110 competitors out onto the famed Glen Helen track as well as a tour around the east end of the GH complex. With fast bumpy straights, jumps and even a sand wash section, the courses had all the good stuff of off-road racing.
Not surprisingly, guys with real racing experience dominated their classes. Our old buddy Curt LeDuc, posted a win in the Unlimited class and had the fastest times of any competitor for the Desert and Short Course sections. Other winners included Tim Shedarowich in UTV, Jason Milligan in Super, Ryan Morehouse in Sand, Aaron Bruno in Modified, Mile Smolik in Linked, Rylee Walker in 1450, Jack Badossian in 4400 and Vince Munoz in 1400. Last Call winners varied in that Stewart Dixon took 1400, Nick Underwood in Baja, Michael Ball in Linked and James Brittain in Modified, Todd Farrand in Super, LeDuc, Shedarowich, Badossian and Walker won their respective classes again.
Great racing all around, and for many it was a chance to get their ride out onto a real off-road racecourse and to see how it is to be behind the wheel at speed, even if they were all alone on the track. It is slightly different when racing in a pack, but this format was great, and everyone had only good things to say about the format. The “1st Inaugural Jump Champs” competition, held the afternoon of Sunday the 8th, was the weekends Grand Finale. There were two ramps placed side by side (both borrowed from the Robby Gordon Stadium Trucks series) and one was the standard RGST ramp which is better for long jumps but not too high while the other had been specially enhanced with plenty of dirt beneath it to totally launch anyone brave enough to try it.
Many did, and with spectacular results. One guy destroyed a wheel upon landing and others had their share of misfortune. Others just seemed to scare themselves their first launch. We don’t blame them. Some guys though, like John Gable (Clarke’s kid. No, really) who had just gotten back from winning a class at NORRA with Curt LeDuc, skied his initial jump and even did a nice drift after landing.
Though things ran well and nobody really got out of shape, our only response is that maybe Jump Champs can look into making the jumping part of the event a little safer in the future with K-rails or something. We as a sport don’t need any more bad press about spectators getting hurt. Just saying.
There were some great leaps, and even those who only left on the smaller jump have our respect; it’s a little hairball to hit any jump north of 60mph with a truck that may be needed to get you to work the next day. Exciting, fun and a little crazy, Jump Champs is worth the price of admission any day.
For info on the next Jump Champs event, go to their website at TheJumpChamps.com and make plans to attend.