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W.E.ROCK Western U.S. Nationals : Donner Ski Ranch, CA
Presented by Precision Gear, and Alloy USA

June 30 - July 1 , 2007
Story by Harry Wagner
Photos by High Rev Photography and Chad Jock Photography
 

After events in Vegas, Globe, and Goldendale, W.E. ROCK promoter Rich Klein has returned home to Northern California. The return has been somewhat bittersweet, as forest fires in the Tahoe area burned out of control all week and extraction duties had yet to be accounted for only days prior to the event. In typical Klein fashion, these issues were resolved and the 3000 estimated spectators at Donner Ski Ranch for the final event of the W.E. ROCK Western Nationals were none the wiser.

Coming in to the final Western event, Jason Paule has a slim lead in the Unlimited class season standings ahead of Bruce Zeller, with Tracy Jordan and Cody Waggoner tied for third. Everyone wondered if locals like Waggoner, Jason Scherer, and Jeff Mello would be able to take "home court advantage" to finish ahead of the competition. In the Pro Modified class, Brad Lovell sat in first before the event but needed a strong finish in order to stay ahead of Brian Errea and Tim Florian in their Twisted Customs built buggies. Troy Bailey has a solid lock on the Modified Stock title, having finished first in all three events thus far. The Formula Toy class was still anyone's race, with Matt Messer, John James, and Hobie Smith all in the hunt.

When the tires finally hit the courses the weather was hot, as was the competition. Many were surprised to see Tracy Jordan driving his moon buggy instead of the new Twisted Customs two seater that he had in Goldendale. Engine management issues forced Jordan to leave the two seater in Phoenix and bring the moon buggy. After drawing a spot following Bruce Zeller in his identical moon buggy, the decision seemed to be a wise one. By the end of Saturday Jordan was 28 points ahead of the next closest competitor in the Unlimited class, Shannon Campbell. But with the spots reversed on Sunday he would not have the luxury of following Zeller. Would Jordan's lead remain?

When Sunday morning came, Shannon Campbell was able to whittle Jordan's lead down to sixteen points. Both drivers made the huge bonus climb up B3, along with a few other top drivers such as Bruce Zeller and Jason Paule. The Shootout was held on the A4 course, with multiple bonus gates to leave the win open to any of the top six finishers in the Unlimited and Pro Mod classes. First up was Jason Scherer in Tiny, followed by Jason Paule, Cody Waggoner, and Bruce Zeller. Zeller and spotter George Poston were at a disadvantage without functioning radios, but despite some communications problems still managed to finish well. None of the four, however, finished well enough to overcome their deficit behind Jordan. Next up was Campbell, who took advantage of the rock racing style Shootout to complete nearly all of the bonus gates under the allotted time. It was all Campbell's brother and spotter Nick could do to stay out of his way. He finished the Shootout with an amazing -42, meaning that Jordan needed -27 points to keep his lead. Unfortunately a hit cone at the start of the course set the wrong tone for the run, and although Jordan finished with a score of -24, it was not enough to hold off Campbell. The finish was, however, good enough to earn Jordan the win in the Western Nationals series.

The weekend action was in no way limited to the top class. Thirteen Formula Toys showed up for the event and eleven drivers for the exhibition class. In the exhibition class, Jason Berger suffered a violent rollover on A2 and Tom Wayes hydrolocked his engine, ending the day early for both competitors. The standout in the exhibition class was Mark Ruffing in a Spidertrax buggy. Had he been competing for points he would have had a top five finish. Matt Messer dominated the Formula Toys, finishing with -82 points, 73 points ahead of Brian Ellinger in second place.

Ellinger and spotter Dave Cole also competed in the Pro Modified class along with 19 other competitors. This class has really exploded since W.E. ROCK expanded the rules to allow tube frames and full hydraulic steering. Even with a square frame buggy the Lovell brothers who maintained their lead all weekend in Pro Mod. Nipping at their heels was Mike Shaffer, out of retirement from rockcrawling to pilot Dave Schneider's buggy. Other top five finishers in Pro Mo included the usual suspects, such as Dean Bulloch and Brian Errea, along with Ben Hanks in his Maxxis buggy and Campbell teammate Terry Dagen. Both Dagen and Bullock suffered hard rolls on Saturday, but remained in the hunt until the end.

With the Western Nationals complete, Jordan stands atop the Unlimiteds with Brad Lovell winning the Pro Modified class. Troy Bailey swept every event for Modified Stock and Matt Messer took the season the win in Formula Toy. Next up for those who competed in all four events in each series are the Grand Nationals Finals, to be held in Houston in September. After that the top six qualifying teams in each class will be heading down under for the World Championships in Sydney, Australia. Until then, check out the scores below and the photo gallery from Donner to get your competition rockcrawling fix.

UNLIMITED CLASS SCORES

Name Team # Score Rank
Shannon Campbell 35 -37 1
Tracy Jordan 112 -35 2
Bruce Zeller 181 19 3
Cody Wagonner 117 52 4
Jason Paule 000 119 5
Jason Scherer 13 134 6
Jennifer Little 64 178 7
Tom Haman 22 183 8
Mike Papola 318 205 9
Robert McKenney 008 226 10
John Hall 530 262 11
Craig Zeller 81 287 12
Kurt McLaughlin 333 300 13
Kevin Dubois 41 305 14
Scott Ellinger 8 325 15
Brent Bradshaw 12 332 16
Sandra Tremane 7 359 17
James Pearson 417 363 18

PRO MODIFIED CLASS SCORES

Name Team # Score Rank
Brad Lovell 232 42 1
Brian Errea 1 76 2
Mike Shaffer 33 89 3
Terry Dagen 35M 91 4
Dean Bulloch 9 132 5
Ben Hanks 163 159 6
Richard Bronsema 17A 170 7
Jody Everding 619 175 8
Brian Ellinger 54 189 9
Tim Florian 777 197 10
Becca Webster 88 197 11
Michael Klensin 143 216 12
Glenn Bonner 19 235 13
Carl Nielson 65 252 14
Hal Frost 21 254 15
Marc Thurston 318 297 16
Todd McCullen 222 306 17
Mike Bailey 262 315 18
Nicole Johnson 814 321 19
Jeff Mello 888 341 20

MODIFIED STOCK SCORES

Name Team # Score Rank
Troy Bailey 1 -42 1
Richard Bronsema 17 -35 2
Eric Hackney 76 9 3
James Andrus 222 135 4
Dan Patterson 124 145 5
Kathleen Isrealsen 13 306 6
Lawrence Karver 313 347 7

FORMULA TOY SCORES

Name Team # Score Rank
Matt Messer 29 -82 1
Brian Ellinger 44 -9 2
John James 28 0 3
Cody Deschamps 35 14 4
Hobie Smith 10 27 5
Mike Wright 22 75 6
Pat Hanning 18 89 7
Daryl Spencer 43 183 8
Sam Williams 42 189 9
Jeremy Farrell 03 194 10
Mike Carter 50 232 11
Nathan Unruh 63 233 12
Brett Porter 20 329 13

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