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Octane Race Team – UTV Rally Raid Dominated by Dust

OctaneUTV1For some reason, I continually underestimate the time it takes to get a RZR-XP ready for a four hour endurance race. It was no surprise that car prep came down to the line again for this race. I rolled into Stoney Lonesome Park in Cullman, AL at around midnight on Friday evening. The race was scheduled to leave the line at 5:30 Saturday evening. After a good night’s sleep, it was time for the normal race day activities (pre-running in the amazing RZR-4 XP 900, final car prep, gas can staging, tool staging, etc.). One outstanding item left incomplete was getting our shocks serviced. The gang at Wide Open Design stepped up and had parts overnighted for the shock service. They came through with no questions asked and delivered our King shocks to the track. They literally saved the race for me.

It was immediately evident on my first pre-run lap that this day was going to be dominated by dust. Most of the terrain around North Alabama is made up of red clay. Stoney Lonesome is no exception to this rule. However, the dry conditions of the previous week have removed the “clay” substance from the dirt and we were left with a heavy powder on the surface.

I was fortunate enough to land near the front of the pack for the race start. I left the line on the third row and quickly began eating dust. The first part of the Stoney Lonesome course is the short course. That being a big open area, the dust wasn’t too bad, but immediately upon entering the high speed road course, the dust was almost unbearable, causing speeds to slow drastically. After a lap or two, I was able to move to the lead of the pack on the course. This allowed me almost one complete lap of low dust. This lap ended up being the fastest lap of the evening, somewhere north of a 15:30:00. Unfortunately, I soon caught up to the back of the pack, forcing me back into the thick dust conditions. At this point, I could literally go only as fast as the car in front of me. There were a few sections on the track where the dust was bearable, so I was forced to drive those sections at a higher speed than I would have liked in order to keep the laps consistent.

My race strategy was again pretty simple for this race – go as fast as I can for as long as I can. Luckily for me, I have a bunch of companies standing behind me this year that supply parts and service that keep the car together during this punishing pace. We were using a few new components at this race that were designed to increase the reliability of the nearly bulletproof RZR-XP 900.

OctaneUTV2On the rear of the chassis, we are now using some specially designed radius arm bungs. These act as misalignment spacers as well as preventing the mounting hole from elongating, creating a very solid mount for the radius arms.

I also raced with a very trick new sway bar from Rath Racing. So far, I have broken four stock sway bars. I have been searching for a race-built replacement for quite a while. The guys (and gals) at Rath Racing have stepped up to the plate and put in the necessary R&D to create an amazing sway bar for the XP’s. From first glance, you will notice the attention to detail for which Rath Racing has created a great reputation. The Rath Racing sway bar held up perfectly and will be a permanent part of our XP this year. I will have more on the Rath Racing RZR-XP sway bar posted soon.

After four hours of eating dust and twelve laps, the race was finally over. We ended up first place overall and had the fastest lap. All in all, the race went exactly as we had hoped. The car held up perfect and the GBC Dirt Commanders and HiPer wheels kept the power to the ground in the very slick, dusty conditions. Due to the repetitive start and stop action created by the dusty conditions, the DirtyDawg Performance clutch kit came into play at this race more than some other races. The DirtyDawg clutch kit was essential to the win.

The next UTV Rally Raid will be on May 26 at Stoney Lonesome in Cullman, AL. More information at

You can follow Octane Race Team on Facebook at

Huge thanks to the great sponsor team:, Polaris,, Blue Torch Fab, DragonFire Racing, GBC Tires, HiPer Wheels, DirtyDawg Performance, ProArmor, K4 Switches, Shorai Power,, and Rath Racing. Special thanks to Wide Open Design for knocking out the King Shocks rebuild with very little notice.

All race photos provided by Busted Knuckle Films.

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