The winter layover and long nights in the workshop installing parts from our sponsors and preparing the machines to be race ready came to an end at last. The GNCC racing nation began its pilgrimage to Round 1. To change things up a bit, Big Buck in South Carolina was our first destination making the Hog Waller mud bog in Florida Round 2. It also meant our UTVs would not be making an appearance until Round 2.
Round 1 – Big Buck, SC
Sitting back on board the Polaris Scrambler XP 1000 for the first full race since his wreck at Ironman, Pro 4x4 racer and team owner, Michael Swift, was all repaired and ready to get back to normal. He was prepared for the next couple of races to require some adjustment as his full bike fitness returned to normal. However, before he was able to take to the start line, his son Tayton Swift would be riding a new-geared machine in the 90 Limited 8-12 class. Tayton set the bar for his Dad with an excellent 3rd place.
Lining up alongside Swift, co Pro 4x4 rider, Kevin Trantham was fresh from winter training and keen to see what the 2017 machine would do on the varied terrain. As the 10 seconds was called and all of the pre-season nerves rose, the flag dropped and our riders were underway. The competition set the early pace, but Trantham was in sight the entire time and brought his Polaris home in 3rd. He said the varied course of big buck lent itself well to the high maneuverability of the Scrambler. The motor was strong and the Teixeira-Tech chassis components were key to this. Swift also looked strong back on the bike and it was only a small technical issue that held him back rather than anything to do with his fitness. He brought the bike across the line in 7th. He said he was very happy to be back on the bike and ready to join Trantham and put his machine back on the podium.
UK and now US-resident rider, Graham Widdicombe, returned for a 2nd season in 4x4 Senior and was joined by Canadian/South African Nic Snyckers. Ready to fight for the championship, he raced hard to finish 5th after some issues held him back. Snyckers was joining the class to bring up his speed and enjoyed the experience.
So that concluded Round 1. Team UXC put a Polaris on the Pro 4x4 podium and came away from the winter break feeling the hard work was worth it. Now to put our Factory UTVs on the podium in Round 2 ATV/Round 1 UTV…
Round 2 ATV / Round 1 UTV – Wild Boar, FL
With just a few days to be sure all of the machines were ready, the team headed south to the warmth of Florida. It’s always hard to know what will happen in Florida, as it’s a unique terrain compared to the rest of the tour. However, the sand, pine trees and bog combination always means a rough, often tight track that would only get much worse It presents a challenge to both the machine and the racer with sand sapping both power and energy. Swift and Trantham would take on the Hog Waller course twice in UTV Pro XC1 after racing their Scrambler ATVs in the morning.
Joining the team for the first time was Factory Polaris Ace 900 XC racer, Jesi Stracham. Many will know Jesi’s story, but for those who don’t; an unfortunate accident left this young lady paralyzed. However, never one to let anything stand in her way, she has found that racing single seat UTVs has given her a great release. After finishing her first race in the Ace 2 years ago she said ‘it made her feel like she had legs again’. We look forward to having her on the team and her continued success!! UK/US racer, Becky Widdicombe will also be returning to the single seat class. Another new racer joining our UTV team is Bair’s Powersports #TeamRZR racer, Matt Ashton. Running in the Amateur Limited class, Ashton would be competing in his first GNCC race.
Fresh from the momentum of putting Polaris back on the podium in Round 1, Swift and Trantham headed to the start line. As the flag dropped lap 1 looked to have been an interesting one; Swift lay in a good position in 4th, but Trantham was down in 10th. By the end of lap 2, Swift was up to 3rd and Trantham had dispatched the other 6 riders in their class to put himself right up to 4th. Running hard on chasing the win, as the riders crossed the finish line, Trantham took a very well earned 2nd place in class and the overall and Swift a strong 4th. As Trantham cooled off in the cool zone, he was quick to sing the praises of his Custom Axis Shocks partnered with Teixeira-Tech A-Arms and the STM Powersports/Airdam Clutches pairing. He said it gave him the maneuverability and power to out drive the competition and use the full strength of his Polaris package. Swift crossed the line in 4th and was immensely pleased with his own performance in such demanding conditions. He said he was proud to see the Polaris machine climbing back aboard the podium where it belongs.
With such a strong ATV race, our XC1 Pro racers wanted to repeat the performance in their Factory Polaris RZR UTVs. Trantham got his RZR off the line with Swift just another car behind. They both began chasing the lead hard. After an entire day of racing, the course had taken a pounding. It was rough and the dust was unbelievable, but it was the same for everyone. Both drivers began picking off cars.
Unfortunately, Trantham’s drive was cut short due to a technical issue. Swift was still working hard and brought his RZR across the finish line in 7th. Speaking after the race, he said he was pleased with the performance and had a clear idea of what to do to get both machines on the podium.
Our Ace racers went off the line like rockets. Stracham got a beauty of a holeshot and set the early pace with Widdicombe tucked in behind in 4th and still in contention. The GNCC course was designed with the new, wider XC Ace in mind. However, it was still pretty tight in places and presented the racers with a good challenge. Unfortunately, Stracham caught a tree, which affected the steering on her machine, and she had to pull out.
Stracham was frustrated but took the positives away and said the new Polaris Ace 900 XC and feels that she will be able to put it on top of the podium amazed her. Widdicombe was still racing hard but also fell foul to a bit of contact with another racer and got a puncture. Equally frustrated as Stracham as she too could feel the true potential of the machine even in full stock set up.
The rest of the team performed superbly. Tayton Swift continued his charge on the 90 Limited 8-12 class with an excellent 2nd place after leaving the line last. He was mere seconds behind the 1st place rider. Graham Widdicombe pulled out a 2nd place in Senior 4x4 and this was after trying to drown his machine in one of Hog Wallers infamous bogs. He said he was thankful for his Tire Balls for keeping him afloat! Competing in his first GNCC of 2017 and also coming back from a shoulder injury, 4x4 A racer, Josh Day was content to get a finish under his belt and came across the line in a strong 6th. To finish our team’s line up, UTV Amateur Limited racer, Matt Ashton brought his RZR home in 2nd place.
Team UXC takes a very solid performance to ATV Round 3 in Sparta, GA. We thank our sponsors for helping us put together a strong package. Come say hi and relax in our new pits!
Team UXC Racing 2017 Sponsors
Airdam | Alco Cleaners | All Balls Racing | Bair’s Powersports | Big Gun Exhaust | Carbo Rocket | Carmichael Training Systems | Cool-It Thermo Tech | Custom Axis Shocks | Dirt Works Motorsports | DP Brakes | Evans Cooling | FPS Racing | Fasst Company | Fly Racing | Hilliard | K&N Filters | Leatt | Maxxis Tires | Motion Pro | Ogio | OMF Wheels | Polaris Engineered Lubricants | Polaris Factory Racing | Polaris Power Generators | Quad Logic | Quad Tech | RCV Performance | RT Pro | RZR | Ricochet Off-Road Armor | Rigid Industries | Rox Speed FX | Securadyne Systems | Scott Goggles | Spider Grips | SSI Decals | STM Powersports | Team | Teixeira Technology | Tire Balls