Pro 2 standout Ryan Beat and Pro Lite up-and-comer Connor Barry took the wins in Monday’s Great American Shortcourse season opener from King of the Hammers, bringing yet another thrilling form of off-road action to one of the marquee events of the year for the sport. Both drivers posted the fastest laps of their respective qualifying sessions before kicking off the third season of GAS with a checkered flag apiece.
Barry led a majority of the 12-lap race, briefly giving up the top spot to Brody Eggleston before reclaiming it for good on Lap 6 as Kyle Knott and Pro Spec racer Chris Van Den Elzen completed the podium for the mixed-class race. Beat, on the other hand, had to come through the field after a six-truck inversion, getting up to third by Lap 3 but not getting back to the top spot until Ronnie Anderson lost an engine coming to the white flag; Anderson had led the whole race up to that point. Ricky Gutierrez kept it close at the finish, coming in just .514 seconds behind Beat, while Doug Mittag backed up a strong performance in the Toyo Tires Desert Challenge with a third place finish.
In fact, there were plenty of close finishes to be had throughout the day. Youth 1000 UTV winner Drake Mittag kicked the day off for the youth divisions with a .882 second victory over Josey Watkins, and Ian Torfi beat Brixton Wirt by .682 seconds in AM Ortega J1 Kart in the next race. Later in the day, Lorenzo Bonacci beat Zachary Drapkin by .443 seconds in Pro Buggy, Jason Weller won the Production Turbo UTV race by 1.275 seconds over Mason Myers, George Llamosas beat Barry—one of many drivers running multiple classes—by 1.453 seconds in Production 1000 UTV.
Other winners included Cade Martin in Mod Kart, Paul O’Brien in Weller Racing SR1 UTV, Carson Smith in Limited Buggy, Ryan Rodriguez in Class 11, Brent Veenstra in Mini Stock, Mikey Childress in J2 Kart, and Triton Lawrence in RZR 170. More than 150 entries total competed across the various truck, buggy, and UTV classes on hand.
The 2023 Great American Shortcourse season will see a total of nine rounds across five events, including Monday’s race from Hammertown, the only round of the year not to be part of a doubleheader. Next up for the series is a visit to Glen Helen Raceway on April 22-23, followed by a night race at SBC Fairgrounds on June 10-11. From there, the series will be dormant until the fall, when a revival of Primm Raceway on October 7-8 and a return to SBC Fairgrounds on November 4-5 close out the season.
Today’s King of the Hammers action sees qualifying for Friday’s 4WP Every Man Challenge and the Holley EFI Shootout presented by Action Sports Canopies and King Shocks. Coverage is available all week long at www.kingofthehammers.com/live-stream.
Image via King of the Hammers