Archive for July, 2014

And Just Like That, The Game Had Changed — 2014 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix

July 19th2014

And Just Like That, The Game Had Changed -- 2014 4 Wheel Parts G
Spidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

Enter the hot pit, where your best friends wait with fuel and tools in hand. Loren had zero mechanical issue, and a large enough fuel tank to likely pull off the entire 2 hr race, but being a new car with just about zero seat time, he and his team elected to re-fuel around lap count 11 (there would be 20 laps total). Take a look at the gent holding up the massive fuel container with the full headphones on, see him starring in the distance at a passing by vehicle (you should just catch the top lights of it, to the middle left side of the photo)? That would be Levi Shirley, who at this very moment would officially be in 1st place.

Fun fact: Levi had no plan to pit, with enough fuel on hand he would continue the race from this point forward at his wicked fast non-stop pace. Glen Helen is not the easiest place to pass, I’d say it’s likely the hardest place to pass in the Ultra4 circuit, and Loren and his team knew this too. As soon as Loren was re-fueled (shortly after this photo, it was a Nascar fast pit stop), he entered back into the field and turned up the dial from 70 to 100%. Yes, Loren had been running around 70% the entire time, and now we would see just what miracle this new machine could pull off.

In that same lap, Loren would end up catching up to Levi (and JT Stevens) just past a zig zag section shortly before the start/finish line. He would pass both in one shot, gain a bit of distance, the turn the dial back to 70%. It was a very quick moment, and the only one that I witnessed, where Loren pushed his new machine to the limit. It was something to see in person, that’s all I can say.

Above the Clouds — 2014 Glen Helen Grand Prix

July 18th2014

Above the Clouds -- 2014 Glen Helen Grand Prix
Spidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

There’s nothing like a good old IFS vs Solid Axle debate. There are advantages to both, and each shines in its own environment.  It just so happens the short course style racing of the west coast Ultra4 series favors IFS. Since 2011, all 4 of the Glen Helen races were won with IFS… the 2 Nor Cal Stampede races were also won with IFS…. BUT that doesn’t mean solid axle machines aren’t close behind.

Three solid axle drivers come immediately to mind when I enter any Ultra4 short course style field, Alex Hardaway, Jason Blanton, and Jake Hallenbeck. Jason earned his Ultra4 National Title last year as the fastest solid axle racer of the season, and Alex and Jake have more seat time on the Nor Cal short course field than virtually any other driver. While everyone aims for 1st, taking a podium finish is nothing short of an amazing achievement in today’s high turnout competition, and you can count on one of these solid axle machines making their way to the top. As it happens it’s Jake’s year to shine. Having just grabbed 3rd in the MetalCloak Nor Cal Stampede, he returned last weekend with a 3rd place finish at the 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix.

And the IFS vs Solid Axle debate continues.

P.S. We manufacture Spider 9 axles for both, so it’s all good.

Rising Star — 2014 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix

July 17th2014

Rising Star -- 2014 Glen Helen Grand PrixSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

Loren Healy seemed unstoppable at the 2014 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix, in large part because he pretty much was, but in the 2 hours that made up the main race there was one single driver who stayed on his tail the entire time. Levi Shirley, pictured here nearing the end of the short course section toward the back of the race track, gives every race his 110% best. Couple this with more 2014 Ultra4 races under his belt than any other driver (Levi is competing in all East, West, a Euro Ultra4 races), two brand new Spider 9 powered IFS & solid axle machines (yes, he has two), and the never give up attitude that makes up his Lucky Dog Racing Team… and you get a force to be reckoned with.

We’ve been working with Levi and the Shirley family since the good ole XRRA days (2009 and earlier), and still have the video to prove, even then, just how capable a driver the young Levi Shirley was and still is, . With plenty of seat time under his belt from both XRRA & Dirt Riot circuits, Levi officially joined the Ultra4 family this year and is now playing with the big boys… and so far so very good. Levi took top honors in Italy just a few weeks back, becoming the 1st US driver to win an Ultra4 European race. He finished last weekend just behind Loren, securing a 2nd place finish for Glen Helen which was the single largest race outside of King of the Hammers. Congrats Levi, always a pleasure watching you in your element.



Fit for a King — 2014 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix

July 16th2014

Fit for a King -- 2014 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix
Spidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

History was made, yet again, in the world of Ultra4 racing. Last weekend marked the 7th installment for the 2014 Ultra4 season, the 4 Wheel Parts Glen Helen Grand Prix, a venue that started in 2011 and was marked, even then, as the next big thing. It was such a massive deal at the time I saved the original drivers list ( ), confident that what had just gone down was a mark in Ultra4 history. We had, get this, 38 racers scheduled to take the field in 2011. The sheer idea of having 38 racers make their way to a debut race was an insane number… at the time anyway. Last weekend, we had 120 drivers qualifying for the top spots of Glen Helen. It was less than a month ago when we marked the MetalCloak Stampede as the largest Ultra4 race outside of King of the Hammers, best to update your notebooks on that one. Glen Helen now has that top honor.

Yes, its pretty amazing, but for me personally this wasn’t the big story. For those following our posts, you should have caught our tease before July 4th weekend, hinting about Loren Healy’s soon to be released IFS Ultra4 racer. I’d venture to say Loren’s mission to build the next best IFS machine was the quietest, most secretive, build we’ve seen in some time. It was a project that we were part of well before this years King of the Hammers, and one that wasn’t debuted until the King was absolutely ready. Although Loren had virtually zero seat time prior to Glen Helen, the little bit of time he did have during that July 4th weekend made one thing very clear. This was the going to be a big deal.

Loren Healy took everything he learned from his first IFS racer… and started from scratch. This unique forward engine IFS Ultra4, built in a style similar to a Pro 4, took every aspect of Loren’s previous IFS machine and made it many times better. Equipped with a high strength & lightweight Spidertrax Spider 9 IFS & solid rear axle, the beautifully crafted front & rear suspension of Armada Engineering, and clean chassis work we’ve come to expect from Jimmy’s 4×4, Loren’s new IFS has more front and rear suspension travel, tighter steering, better weight distribution (just 14 lbs off from passenger to driver side), more power, a bigger footprint even though it looks much smaller than his previous machine… all while weighing in 1,000 pounds lighter! I spent my Saturday morning with Loren, going over all the final dimensions, specs, and weights before the kickoff of the first preliminary race. I was, dare I say, geeking out over this new creation… and at that point in the weekend this machine was still very much a quiet release.

Loren would qualify 1st on Friday, take 1st in Saturday’s preliminary race, and take 1st in the main race by what amounted to be a significant margin. For an Ultra4 machine that is fresh out of the box, without an ounce of shock tuning, in the largest Ultra4 race outside of King of the Hammers… this didn’t go unnoticed. Drivers are getting copious amounts of seat time these days, thanks in large part to the plethora of Ultra4 races from coast to coast, so the field of driver talent is getting bigger & better every venue. Going back to the machine, so as to find that next best mechanical edge to win, is still a hot place to be. Loren has done that, in a big way, and it’s only the beginning for the new IFS creation. A huge congrats to Loren for winning Glen Helen, for the 2nd time now, and upping the bar yet again in Ultra4 racing.

Of course, we have more racing stories to share and will do so, in typical fashion, as the week goes by. Till next time.

Bigger is Better. The all new Pro Series Stub Shaft.

July 10th2014

Spidertrax Pro Series Stub ShaftWe just released our new Ultimate Housing yesterday, why stop there. Say hello to the all new Pro Series Stub Shaft, a fresh approach in building the strongest stub shaft on the planet. Designed specifically for our 40 splined Ultimate Unit Bearings, the Pro Series Stub Shaft is 40 splined, manufactured out of billet 300M, has a massive 1″ threaded locking fastener (no more snap rings), and still turns an amazing 50°. It’s the end all stub shaft, and with the insane speed and power of today’s Ultra4, the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Read more…