UTAH MOTOR NEWS  Performance, Motorsports and Automotive News and Events for Utah and the Surrounding Area.

Mesquite Off-Road Grand Prix

By: UMN
| enero 18, 2024

By: Rick Bairett

The Mesquite Grand Prix off-road motorcycle race, organized by Grassroots Off-Road Racing as part of a new series, took place January 13th. Temperatures were warm enough for just a jacket, and the wind was almost nil. Add a fun and challenging track and you have a near-perfect day for an off-road race. 



Grand prix races normally combine elements of desert/off-road, motocross, and some flat track racing into a single event. Accordingly, the Mesquite Grand Prix was challenging and the most experienced and well-rounded riders had some distinct advantages. 

This event was also a points race for the Utah Motorcycle Off-Road Racing Association (UMORA). So plenty of Utahns came out to ride hard. 


The Track

The course looked intensely fun to ride. Being a grand prix, competitors got to launch from a MX starting gate. Next came a handful of hard turns and MX-style whoops and jumps before what was possibly the most impressive feature. 


Riders got to scream up a massive hill with a depression at the top before climbing still higher—something of a long stair step. The right side of the hill had a groomed ramp that allowed riders—at least those who dared—to fly over that depression to level ground on top. As a spectator up top, it was impressive to see how far and how high some riders flew. 


While the terrain was mostly flat on top, the respite was brief. Riders soon got to charge down a different part of the same hill before making a sharp left turn at the bottom. 

Mona, Utah pro Daemon Woolslayer describes that hill as one of the funnest parts of the track. Of course flying off the uphill ramp is amazing. He also appreciated the challenge of the “really gnarly” downhill section that gets chewed up by “brake bumps” as the day goes on. Basically, as riders use their brakes to control speed, they create divots that keep getting increasingly deeper.


After pushing through, and flying over, more man-made features, the trail pushed out into the surrounding terrain. The Mesquite course has a reputation for being quite sandy. In fact, Daemon describes it as “deep gnarly sand with sand corners and sand whoops.” 

The sandy soil gets increasingly ragged as the day progresses. That forces riders to keep finding a new racing line that is still as smooth and as fast as possible. The Mona-Nephi-Levan area has its own well-used sand dunes near Cherry Creek. So Daemon was in his element and always enjoys that aspect of the Mesquite course. 


After leaving the off-road section, the last part of the course was a series of mostly flat turns interspersed with more jumps. Even that stretch was challenging, with veteran pro Riley Brough crashing out while dueling near the front of the Pro group. He is recovering well and looking forward to racing again soon.

Races were 45 to 90 minutes, with the faster riders turning in around nine-minute laps. So the reward for completing all that was to do it again…repeatedly. All of which highlights the fact that the biggest challenge, according to Daemon, is finding the balance between speed and endurance. The course wasn’t necessarily hard, but it gets harder as laps take a toll on riders’ bodies. “The last 30 minutes, and especially the last 15, really kick your butt.” 


The Riders

Utah riders were well represented in all classes, and made up the vast majority of some classes. Perhaps that’s not surprising since this race counted for UMORA points. Besides, most of Utah is in the dead of winter while Mesquite still has racing conditions. 

Classes started with little kids on their 50cc machines and progressed through bigger bikes, and more advanced age and experience levels, all the way to AA Pros on their 450cc dirt rockets. There were also some separate classes for girls and women. 


Even the youngest racing groups were fun to watch. Some kids moseyed along, using the throttle as an on-off switch, while other little guys and girls with more experience flew over obstacles like they were born doing it. Several little ones struggled with the big hill, especially coming down, but track volunteers kept them going. The important thing is that they were all having fun and improving their skills while surrounded by family and friends. 


On the other end of the spectrum, the 5th race consisted of pros and experts. They put on a great show with lots of big air and extended duels for position. 


Results

The Open (450cc) Pro class saw 14 riders finish, including nine from Utah. Daemon Woolslayer took 2nd place and was the top Utah finisher, behind Cameron Horner of Bozeman, MT. Late in the race, Daemon’s rear brake got so hot the fluid was boiling. By the time he regained braking effectiveness, half a lap later, he was too worn down to get back into contention for 1st place. 

Kolton Lynn, also of Mona, finished 2nd in the 250(cc) Pro class, behind Carter Stears from Rexburg, ID. Meanwhile, St. George’s Dusty Humphries and Sandy’s Jesse Hodges took 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the Veterans (30+) Pro race group. 


Utahns swept the podium in all Expert classes. For the 450cc bikes, Jayce Zillmer (St. George), Breckin Beard (St. George), and Payton Gerber (Lehi), finished as the top three, in that order. Carter Adams (Eagle Mountain), Crew Ketten (Riverton), and Ammon Pulsipher (St. George), respectively, finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 250cc class. Meanwhile, among 125cc Experts, Austyn Monson (Eagle Mountain), Ryker Sperry (Nephi), and Teegan Smith (Lehi) finished 1st through 3rd, in that order. 

The Women A (Expert) class was also a clean Utah sweep. Rylee Bryan (Nephi) took first, with Ty Woolslayer (Mona) in 2nd and Stephanie Woolslayer (Mona) finishing 3rd.

Space doesn’t permit a list of the top riders across the remaining race groups. Still, Utah had 1st place finishers in 21 additional classes and many others who earned spots on the podium. Click here for complete results. 

Congratulations to all the riders who came out and gave it their all!


More Mesquite Entertainment

The Grand Prix wasn’t the only reason to be in Mesquite on January 13th. UMORA held its Celebration of Champions, for the 2023 season, at a local high school. Besides recognizing points winners across classes, there were lots of great giveaways. Congratulations to Alan Donaldson for winning the Sherco USA 250SEF Factory Edition bike. 


Meanwhile, the Mesquite Mania Classic Car Show at the Casablanca Resort hosted hundreds of amazing and beautiful machines that day. The show also featured “slow drags” and muscle car burnouts that were quite entertaining. 

For motorsports fans, Mesquite was just a great place to be last Saturday. And more events are scheduled if you need an excuse to escape the cold and take in some racing. 

© 2023, R Bairett

Photo Credit: Crista Bairett


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