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From The Dunes To The Track

February 09, 2016

Team DragonFire Races AZOP Vulture Min



DragonFire Racing Operations Manager Brice Ginn rode co-pilot with his buddy Mac Mitchell in the Arizona Off-Road Promotions event at Vulture Mine (near Wickenburg, AZ) to kick off the 2016 season. Beautiful desert landscape next to an active mine made for an interesting setting combined with a challenging track. Rough and rocky mixed in with rutted out wash sections… great for racing but a tough transition for someone more accustomed to the sand dunes.


Mac is an avid “duner” but the last time he drove on hardpack, he threw his Polaris RZR on its side, Brice pointed out as he strapped into the passenger's seat. However Mac kept its shiny side up on Sunday and the race went great overall… until halfway through the last lap when a ball joint failure brought the team to a stop. “Being Mac Mitchell’s first UTV race, he did an amazing job navigating the harsh Arizona desert terrain. He was able to maintain a smooth/fast pace, stayed on the lead lap and passed multiple 1000cc cars during laps 2 and 3,” says Brice.



The Mitchell/Ginn duo raced alongside fellow Team DragonFire driver Robert van Beekum. The #64 Pro UTV Driver won the AZOP series last year… and he picked up right where he left off winning the opening round handily. He was also kind enough to pass along some advice for the rookie team. Before getting paddle tires put on it, the RZR was Bobby's 2013 WORCS racer so his advice was invaluable! 



After starting in 4th place in class (and 46th overall out of 56 vehicles for all classes), the team was running  in 1st place in the 900cc class until the last lap when a lower front ball joint failure led to complete loss of the front right suspension, ending the race day abruptly. However, due to other DNFs in class and completed lap times, we still managed to finish 2nd overall in the 900 class! 


Mac is now hooked! “As this was my first AZOP race, I was very excited for this event and impressed with how the AZOP staff and volunteers put on this race,” says the rookie racer. “The race course was extremely rough and formidable, so the goal was to keep the car together, maintain a consistent pace and finish.” Well two out of three ain't bad for your first time out. But finishing 2nd despite the broken ball joint and total collapse of the front end is a real win for Mac.


“Lap one was hectic to say the least — a lot of people were trying to win on the first lap which caused a lot of carnage out on the track… and a bent rear bumper and upper bed support frame on our car. Once the dust settled and lap two began, our pace and comfort level continued to increase and we were picking off those who started ahead of us in class and also those in the 1000 class. When we came into pit at the start of lap three, we were in 2nd overall for our class and closing in on first. We passed first place at mile marker 2 of the third lap and put it in cruise control to play it safe and keep the car together."

All was going according to plan until just past mile marker 11 when the passenger side front ball joints broke (lower failed and then the upper broke). This caused the vehicle to lose control and drift off the race course into a wash which was fortunately safely off of the race line. “The day then grew more interesting as we had to sit and wait for 4-5 hours in the desert until the truck/buggy race was complete,” adds Brice. “Once the last race was completed we were able to recover the broken racecar and bring it back to the pits.”


Mac would like to thank all those who helped make this weekend happen: Brice Ginn and the team at DragonFire Racing, Brian Causse of Stick-It 1 Racing, Emmett Mitchell of Maxline Products, my wife Kim & baby boy Max for the love & support, Bobby VanBeekum of R-N-R Steel for sponsoring the UTV class, Kyle Krause and his team of volunteers from Arizona Off-Road Promotions, and to the family at Checkpoint 2 for the hospitality while we waited out the Trophy Truck race. Can’t wait to get the RZR 900XP repaired and back out there soon!
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After years of researching and developing the best products in the industry, DragonFire has taken UTV’s to the next level. Superior technology and innovation are incorporated into all of our products. The DragonFire team consists of industry experts in multiple disciplines, which leads to unsurpassed quality, performance and usability.