GAS 2023 Season Opener

The 2023 Great American Short Course race series, powered by Optima Batteries, got underway on Feb 5 and was held in conjunction with the King of Hammers event. Turnout for the GAS opener was huge with 14 separate classes running.  Back in the lineup for the new year was a nice field of Pro 2s. Rounds 2 & 3 of the nine-race series are set for April 22-23 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA. Then June 10-11 a night race will be held at SBC Fairgrounds in Victorville, CA. On Oct 7-8 the series will race at Primm Raceway in Primm, NV and the final race of the season will be Nov 4-5 back at SBS Fairgrounds.


As a side note anyone interested in off-roading needs to put King of Hammers on their bucket list. The event is sponsored by Progressive Insurance and powered by Optima Batteries, and is one of the largest recreational gatherings on public land in the good ole USA. Rumor had it that 115,000 were expected to attend throughout the nine-day 2023 event. I didn’t try to count but I could believe something near that. It is held in Johnson Valley OHV Park which is an ideal off-road playground. The varied landscape offers rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, dry lake beds, and sandy washes. To add to the area challenge is elevation ranging from 2,300 to 4,600 feet, all set in a 188,000-acre public park. The King of Hammers Ultra 4 International event features King of Motos, Toyo Tires Desert Challenge, 4WP Every Man Challenge, The Terra Crew Rush, Baja Jerky Class 11 Showdown, CAN-AM UTV Hammers Championship, Nitto Race King of Hammers, and this year introduced the Great American Short Course GAS opening round.


Pro 2

Ryan Beat took the 2023 Pro 2 win

A jammed-packed 14 Pro 2 cars came out for the 2023 GAS season opener. Before racing started some believe the qualifying session might give one a hint of the Pro 2 outcome. It was Ryan Beat setting a quick time of 1:06.219 ahead of Johnny Holtger at 1:07.245 and Ricky Gutierrez third with 1:07.351. Ronnie Anderson was the fourth fastest qualifier and was placed on the front row where he used that front row start position to take the early lead. Right behind him was Dave Anderson Jr then Doug Mittag. After a couple of laps, Mittag was able to move into second, and soon after Ryan Beat appeared in third. Just before the mid-race yellow Beat had moved into the second spot. On the restart, Anderson held for a couple of laps before smoke poured out of the rear of his track. This allowed Beat to take control with Mittag second and Ricky Gutierrez third. Once Gutierrez moved past Mittag he began pressuring Beat. As it turned out Beat’s focus was on winning and he did. Ricky Gutierrez held for second and third was Doug Mittag.


Pro Lite

Connor Barry overcame the pressure from Kyle Knott to take the first Pro Lite win of the season

There were eight Pro Lite entries and the group provided plenty of racing action. At the start, Connor Barry took the early lead with Brody Eggleston second. On the third lap, Barry got loose after turn three allowing Eggleston to take the lead away from Barry. Eggleston would hold the lead for a couple of laps before rolling in turn one but landing rubber side down. He would retire the next lap and Barry took charge of the race again. Barry now had Kyle Knott in second and applying pressure. As the laps rolled past Barry overcame the pressure to take the first Pro Lite win of the season. Kyle Knott crossed over second and Ryan Bruckner was third.


Pro Buggy

Taking the Pro Buggy checkers was Lorenzo Bonacci

A total of nine Pro Buggy entries lined up for this first event of the season. There was some shuffling in the early part of the race as Dale Ebberts had the early lead but on the second lap, Lorenzo Bonacci and Zachary Drapkin both moved forward. Bonacci stayed in the lead during laps six through eight while Drapkin and Ebberts traded positions before Drapkin regained his second spot. Taking the checkers was Lorenzo Bonacci and Azachery Drapkin held second over Dale Ebberts.


Production Turbo UTV

Jason Weller held off a late charge by Mason Myers to win the Production Turbo UTV class

There were 11 cars entered in the production Turbo/Unlimited race. Taking off from the green flag was Jason Weller and quickly putting distance between himself and Kyle Ahrensberg. Ahrensburg held the second spot for five laps before retiring. Coming from his seventh starting position was Mason Myers who took the third place spot by lap two. Myers held that spot until Ahrensberg retired and then went to work on catching the leader. What had seemed a runaway race for Weller turned into some fine racing action as Myers closed up on Weller. Weller seemed to have more power in the straights but Myers closed up on several corners and tried alternate lines, drawing the attention of the fans, but as the laps wound down he couldn’t make the pass. Jason Weller won with Mason Myers second and Chance Haugen third. This was Myer’s first GAS race, but not a rookie, as he and his family promote short course events at E-Street Motorsports Park in Marysville, CA.


Production 1000 UTV

George Llamosas took the Production 1000 UTV win

Production 1000 UTV had 22 entries that saw Connor Barry take the early lead with George LLamosas second. Cody Hodgson was third but saw Chris Johnson take his position on lap three while on his way to grab second. Johnson tried to hold the position but Barry settled into second leaving Johnson battling for third with Hodgson and Hodgson eventually won the position. Then on the last lap, Johnson again passed Hodgson but Hodgson was able to retake the position before the checkers came out. George Llamosas won the event with Connor Barry second and Cody Hodgson third.


MOD Kart

Cade Martin proved to be the quickest Mod Kart

There were 14 Modified Karts on the course which had Cade Martin out front, pedal to the metal, and not looking back. Behind him, Aston Williams held second until lap five when Talon Martin was able to take the position. The racing action then focused on third-place battle ragging between Dane Culver and Ryan Denny. At one point Culver had dropped back to fifth but once he moved forward again the battle for third intensified as Culver and Denney exhibited the Racing is Rubbing term with Culver finally winning out. So once the checkers flew it was Cade Martin first, with Talon Martin second and Dane Culver third. Rhyan Denny finished fourth.



There were 10 Weller Racing SR1 entries. Taking the hole shot once the green flag came out was Robert Gutierrez. He would hold that position before dropping out a couple of laps later. This put Paul O’Brien out front and he was quickly pulling away from the pack. After four laps Brandon Kilgore moved into second but had some real estate to make up to catch O’Brien. Having an unusual race was Corry Weller. Usually up front in the mix of things she fell as far back as seventh before passing her way into third. So when the checkers flew the finishing order remained the same, Paul O’Brien won with Brandon Kilgore taking second and Corry Weller third. For those checking the race results and note that Brandon Kilgore was not recorded for several laps it was because Kilgore’s transponder fell off midrace so his position was based on manual scoring.


Youth 1000 UTV

Drake Mittag would hold off Josey Watkins, who had set fastest lap, for the win.

To get the season started the Youth 1000 was first to run. Right from the start Drake Mittag jumped from his fifth-place start position into the lead. Coming along with Mittag was Josey Watkins in second and the two quickly pulled from the pack. Out front, Mittag was kept busy as Watkins would challenge in many of the corners. Drake Mittag would hold off Watkins, who had set the fastest lap, for the win. Josey Watkins held second and Chaden Zane Minder crossed over third.


AM Ortega J1 Kart

Ian Torfi AM Ortega winner

Ian Torfi dominated the AM Ortega J1 Kart event. Torfi had company on his run to the checkers as Brody Glaze and Brixton Wirt challenged his every move. The front three had pulled away from the remaining three cars, and late in the race, Torfi had pulled some breathing room from the other challengers. Glaze held second until the last lap but then Brixton Wirt was able to take over the position. Brody Glaze held to take the final podium spot.


RZR 170

RZR 170 winner Triton Lawrence

There were a total of 13 RZR 170 entries. At the start of the 10-lap race, Jake hill jumped out front with Brixton Wirt in second. Hill would catch a front wheel on the inside of a berm and rollover dropping out on lap three, and Wirt a lap later, giving the lead to Triton Lawrence. Moving up two spots was Luke Vail to take over second. Once out front, Lawrence would cross under the checkers first with Luke Vail second. Lariat Lawrence would get around Ian Corona on lap seven to take the final spot on the podium.


J2 Kart

Mikey Childress was awarded the J2 Kart win after Charlie Carty missed post tech

Grabbing the early lead in the J2 Kart event was Charlie Carty and once out front quickly held a comfortable lead. Battling over the second spot were Mikey Childress and Jayden Manchester. With those two battling Carty was comfortable out front, that is until near the end of the race when Childress had made up the real estate separating them and began his challenge for the lead. There were parts of the track out of view so something happened and Mikey Childress was listed as the winner with Jayden Manchester second and Chris Collinsworth third. As it turned out it wasn’t an on-track error for Carty but after the race, he was disqualified for failure to complete post-race tech.


Mini Stock

Mini Stock class was won by Brent Veenstra

Brent Veenstra dominated the Mini Stock class of six entries. This left a good battle for second with Robert Orr and last year’s Champion Anthony Csuzi. Orr held the second position, lap after lap, but on the eighth lap, it sounded like he had trouble finding the right gear and Csuzi was able to pass after turn three. On the top of the podium was Brent Veenstra, the second was Anthony Csuzi and Robert Orr held third.


Class 11

At the checkers the rest of Class 11 saw 1191 Ryan Rodriguez’s rear bumper

One crowd favorite is Class 11 VW Bug racing and with 18 entries the fans had plenty to root for. Those rooting for 1191 of Ryan Rodriguez were enjoying him taking over the lead on lap two from Greg Shapiro. He would again battle with Shapiro to regain the lead on lap four. This then set up the battle for second which changed a couple of times early but then settled into a two-way confrontation with Donnie Donovan and Josh Felix. These two held second and third for several laps before Cisco Bio closed in and was able to pass Felix. While those two battled Donovan closed up on Rodriguez and pressured him for the lead but Rodriguez was able to fend him off for the victory. Donnie Donovan was second and Cisco Bio crossed over third.


Limited Buggy

Carson Smith mastered the Limited Buggy class

The Limited Buggy class had only four entries and once the green came out Carson Smith quickly established himself as the one to beat. Travis Howard patiently held second for several laps before trying to take the lead. At one point the two got physical as Howard made his attempt but Smith was able to hold on for the win. Travis Howard was second and Shawn Jones finished third.


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