There aren’t many enthusiasts out there that can ever say that they hit the trail or the track 10 weekends in a row…and even fewer can claim 10 weekends utilizing the same vehicle! Kevin Yoder proves weekend after weekend that he is a force to be reckoned with on the track, and an all around off-roader that gives back to the community on the trail.
VORRA started their desert racing season in Yerington, Nevada on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Yoder was joined with co-pilot Dean Reed for five 50-mile laps in the Sportsman class.
In his only flat tire with 39″ Pit Bull Mad Dogs to date, Yoder rolled into the pits to get it changed to find all of the Far-N-Gone crew out on the course helping fellow driver Joel Swanson. With just the girls left to assist, he boasted an all female pit crew for a very entertaining tire change and refuel and was back out on the course.
Yoder completely lost the rear brakes on the start of the last lap. When he stopped to see if he could adjust or fix the situation the lead car passed him. He hopped back in the buggy (without brakes) and after 40 miles of chasing the 1018 car, Yoder throttled past him to regain the lead with only 3 miles to the checker flag. By then he had successfully burned up the front brakes as well which made for a great action shot across the finish line!
Yoder was the first vehicle to cross the finish line, but lost first place in the Sportsman class by 1:22 seconds on corrected time. Amazingly after such a long race the top three cars finished within 2 minutes of each other. That will be the last time he stops to check out the problem…
The trip to the World Famous Mustang Ranch was a disappointing one. With a little bit of weather, including rain, lightening and the warming sun, the courses were steep, slick and tough. Competing in the Pro-Mod class, Yoder and spotter Keven Kirkegaard from WFO took the first few courses with a bang. But the big bang came on the last course of the day when they snapped the front axle which ended their weekend competing.
The second day of the competition, Yoder helped support fellow competitors by being the parts runner from the pits to the competition area. Always willing to lend a helping hand, Yoder was generous enough to offer fellow driver Mark Harris a tow back to the trailer after he annihilated owner Jeff Mello’s car.
June 6th 2009 NorCal Rock Racing, Prairie City
With five rigs entered into the Pro Class, Yoder won all of the bracket races, even though his rig was more than 150hp less than the other high powered rigs.
The action packed racing was between Yoder and Chris Ridgeway! In the qualifying round Yoder attempted a NASCAR bump pass on Ridgeway and got around him for the win. When they met again in the main event Yoder fell behind by 3 car lengths off the line running in 2WD. Ridgeway got to the rocks first, but Yoder was soon spicing up the action again. Unfortunately, the NASCAR technique didn’t work as well this round when he pushed Ridgeway off the line from behind, and Yoders tire ended up driving up the passenger side which flipped him onto his lid. Yoder walked away with a 2nd place win.
June 13-14 2009 Play Weekend
Yoder took the rock buggy for a two day play weekend on a 4000 acre private ranch in Northern California. They spent the mornings picking up trash left behind by others, and explored a short trail ride up a old creek bed with a handful of waterfalls that lead to an abandoned mine.
He also spent a couple of hours teaching some high schoolers (16-18 years olds) how to drive. While wheeling, they broke an axle on another rig. Luckily Yoder had the parts and tools on board so they got a one-two on how fix and replace broke axles. What a great experience…not only did they learn how to drive, but also how to fix!
June 20 2009 Fordyce Creek Trail Run
Yoder lead seven other vehicles on the lower loop of the Fordyce Creek Trail. The goal of this trip was to recover a vehicle that had broken down 2 days prior and had been stranded. Yoder towed the rig from the first water crossing to the highway with no issue. While on the trail, Yoder and the rest of the group picked up an entire pickup bed of trail trash and found a campfire still burning.
Why Oh Why are off roaders not paying attention to the land and keeping it clean and accessible. It is so unfortunate that we have to go out as a club or an individual to clean up after others. Please do what you can to help keep the trails clean!
Donner Ski Ranch is about the pucker factor and the bonus lines. Yoder competed in the Super Modified class which allowed him to use his 42″ Pit Bull Rockers. With no points on the board from the Mustang Ranch round, there was a class change and a lot of anticipation.
It was a first time team with spotter Tom Wayes on board. They started off with two very poor runs, and in a nut shell “day one didn’t work because of my setup” said Yoder. With 40 to 50 points to make up on the second day, they came out charging and barely lost first place by around 10 points. If there had been one more course, they both feel confident they would have caught the leader. They settled for 2nd place for the weekend.
July 3-4 2009 Fordyce Creek Trail Run
Yoder and a hand full of others from the Far-N-Gone Motorsports Club hit the Fordyce Creek Trail for the 4th of July. There is no better way to celebrate your freedom than on one of the most beautiful trails in America! They went in at Fordyce Lake and ran a portion of the lower trail and a portion of the upper trail which put them back at the lake to camp. With it being a holiday weekend, the trail was active and the Far-N-Gone group took on and gave out a good amount of pestering and spotting techniques. Always a good time around this great group of guys and gals!
The stage was set after qualifying for some bang up racing between Yoder and Jeff Mello. Lets just be straight, Yoder and Mello have never completed a lap on the same track together without giving everyone something to talk about for a long time. And sure enough, there were two races that allowed the crowd something to cheer about with Yoder coming out on top.
Yoder lined up against Phil Blurton for the main event, again severely underpowered in the Pro Class. Yoder took the lead at the first corner rock obstacle and let his Pit Bull Rockers do the rest of the work on the course. He almost made it to the finish line when one of the rear links came apart and shifted the car to the right. Yoder powered through it to the checker flag and the victory!
Yoder is currently in the points lead for this series and will be competing this weekend in Prairie City for the second straight series win.
It was Yoder’s first ever night race so it added a new level of challenge to reading the obstacles. His cheap Kragen lights were barely enough, but did the trick.
With the green flag waiving at 6pm, the race was on. Within the first 4 miles of the first lap, Yoder did a 3 car pass in one shot by driving around them on a bank. He followed up that maneuver with a 65mph nose plant into the ground that he recovered from and was able to continue driving. He only got passed once and it happened to be a Class 1 car that took him at over 100mph…but his pass wasn’t as lucky as Yoder’s had been earlier…Yoder found him about 30 miles up the road on his lid. Yoder stopped and helped flip him back over and luckily never saw him again.
He did have some electrical problems that caused the motor to shut off intermittently. 80mph with full hydraulic steering is not the best situation for this type of problem! He later identified the root cause of the issue: his tool bag came loose and was shorting out across the battery.
Yoder and co-driver Tom Jurach won the race by over 30 minutes in the Sportsman Class…he sure wasn’t going to loose by a minute again! They were the first to cross the finish line at 11pm, only stopping for fuel, with no flats or mechanical failures. After the finish, Yoder loaded back up into the buggy to go and rescue one of his main competitors in the class that had broken down out in the desert.
He will ride up to the next round of VORRA with a 49 point lead in the Sportsman class.
Why not go for 10 straight? The 57th year of the Jeepers Jamboree is an event to be reckoned with. Something worth a last minute decision to take the buggy instead of the CJ, Yoder pulled off the spare tire and replaced it with a cooler then broke out the welder and fabricated up a quick roof rack to carry all the camping gear.
The trail ride in was casual and fun; helping people that had mishaps with their rigs and stopping at the water holes to cool off. The whole trip was undeniably relaxing and fun! The weather was perfect, the group was entertaining, and the countless new friends and memories always top the list. Nothing like a weekend hanging out in the famous Rubicon Springs to complete a great run!