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March 14, 2016

Killer Bs Get Stung


With more than $100,000 in cash and prizes on the line and 200+ teams entered in the race, 2016 Polaris RZR UTV World Championship lived up to its billing as a true “world” championship. In addition to the cash and bragging rights, Polaris put up four RZRs for race winners! More than enough incentive for Team DragonFire “Killer Bs” (Ken Benson, Bobby VanBeekum and Lacrecia Beurrier) to buzz into the February 18-20 festivities in force! 

After taking third overall last year, Lacrecia was looking forward to being on the top step of the podium in 2016, while Ken and Bobby were looking forward to teaming up together rather than racing against each other like they usually do in short course competition (Bobby was the 2015 Lucas Oil Off-Road Regional champ, just beating Ken in the final standings). In addition to Benson, VanBeekum and Beurrier, Team DragonFire bolstered the ranks for the UTV World Championships with UTV Rally Raid competitor Russell Griffin who normally teams with Jimmy Keys in the 4-hour woods races. “How hard can it be? There are no trees to worry about,” Russell joked.


Although there were no trees, the 180 mile course proved to be no joke! Instead of making a beeline for the podium all three of the Killer Bs got stung!  VanBeekum/Benson finished 12th, best on a bad day for the team. After finishing 3rd last year Lacrecia was 32nd and Russell found the desert to be a challenge coming in 36th. "Definitely a rough weekend out there but that’s racing," notes DragonFire Operations and Team Manager Brice Ginn.



“I felt we did really well for our first time out in a new car,” says Bobby. “We finished… just not in the position we felt we should be in.” Despite the buzzkill of a DNF in the short course competition, VanBeekum was upbeat about the UTV World Championships. “What a great weekend spent with an amazing group of people. We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to the sound of the quads and motorcycles leaving the line for their race. We headed to the line at 9:30 for the desert race in the new car built by Lone Star. This was the car's first time out and I was excited to see how it was going to take the punishment of ten 18-mile laps.


“We started in row 5 for this race and like last year we had to do a dead engine start. I got the holeshot off the line and hoped the race would continue to go in our favor. We steadily reeled in other cars, thankful for the strong breeze keeping the dust clear… all systems go!”


Then the first of several misfortunes hit when the VanBeekum/Benson duo lost a belt. “We ended up losing two more belts, two axles, and the front diff when we tussled with a rather large rock that miraculously appeared in the middle of the track on the last lap! With all the mechanical issues we still managed to limp to the finish.”


Bobby then jumped into his short course car for his second race of the day… an exhausting choice. “It was another dead engine start, only this time I was on the first row to start. Guthrie Jr. and I made it out front and battled back in forth for the lead until I lost another belt. I got the belt changed only to lose my front axles and a bolt out of the steering rack. I decided to call it a day… but a good day. We had a fantastic time at this event. It was well organized as usual for the BITD crew and we appreciate all of their hard work. We cannot thank our pit crew enough for their time and dedication to helping us compete at this level. We also have to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support:  Muzzys, DragonFire, Method Race Wheels, Walker Evans Shocks, Lone Star Racing, Xtreme Machine & Fabrication, UTV Inc. and R-N-R Steel.”



Lacrecia had really been looking forward to the UTV World Championship, with her sights set on top of the podium. That plan began to look a little dimmer when she drew a start position at the back of the approximately 80 UTV field. “We knew we had our work cut out for us with that many cars in front of us. We had our XP1K motor freshened up by Mark at Queen Racing with some great parts from Webcam Racing cams and CP Carrillo pistons and rods.”


As usual, there was no time for testing and tuning since Lacrecia works full time as an ER nurse. “We just loaded up the car and headed straight to Laughlin for tech! We started the race on Saturday morning in the 4th row. It was a dead engine start, but with a line of 16 cars, I couldn’t tell if my motor was running or not! Needless to say, I didn’t get the holeshot, but we missed some bar banging in the first corner and were able to go around a few stuck cars.”


After surviving the starting line chaos, it was time to lay down some fast lap times. “We passed many racers and many more were off the course already broken. Our Radflo Suspension shocks were spot on in the giant whoops and some of the worst chatter bumps I have ever encountered. I was told by a spectator that our car was one of only a few he saw that was able to keep the tires on the ground through the bumps, thanks to RadFlo! 


“Our Queen Racing motor was really strong… and fast! Our crew radioed in on the start of the second lap to report that we had gone from approximately 50th to the top 20 in the first lap! I knew the car felt fast, but I had no idea how fast! But, as luck would have it, as we were nearing the end of lap 2 we got tangled up with #1952 Jonathon McVey. The collision broke my passenger tie rod and sent me crashing into the #1952 car a second time… rolling it over on its passenger side. I stopped immediately and my co-driver and I jumped out to make sure they were okay.”

Fortunately Lacrecia's skills as a nurse were not needed.  “We helped them right their car and get going again, but we did not have a spare tie rod on the car, so were stuck until my crew sent a replacement out to the CT Race Worx team. Thanks to them we had the part in no time and Dustin, my co-driver made short work of replacing the rod.” The incident ended up costing the team at least two laps… maybe three. We made it to the pits and the crew said the car was okay, but I was feeling so badly for the crash with McVey, that we decided we would wait for the end of the race and just receive our finish points.” As it turns out, the team was misinformed and it wasn't a GP finish. “We went three more laps before taking the checkered flag in 31st position. Though it isn’t at all how we planned to race the UTVWC, we had a great time, jumped big, made some great passes and finished  All in all a good day in the desert! I want to again extend my apologies to the 1952 team and am so glad that no one was injured. Special thanks to the CT Race Worx team for delivering the tie rod and to all our amazing sponsors!”
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