PUNISHER is the Path to King of the Hammers
Off-road, desert racing doesn’t exactly SCREAM British Columbia, but tucked away in the Thompson Okanagan is a land of valleys, tumbleweeds and rattlesnakes perfectly poised to bring the fastest growing motorsport in North America home… to stay, in the “Country Music Capital of
Canada,” Merritt, BC. Staged on the side of dusty rolling hills overlooking the Nicola and Sunshine Valleys, the course, tirelessly built (pun intended) by a small group of dedicated volunteers, on land donated for use by a
lovely group of ladies whose family has owned the land for generations, did NOT disappoint! Racers gathered in the days leading up to the event, coming from all over western Canada and Washington State. Rookies completely new to the scene, all the way up to seasoned racers in the Ultra4 circuit south-of-the-border were lined up to tackle the newest offering from, and second event of, the Punisher Race Series season. The curves and obstacles, creative textures (dips, jumps and straightaways) offered a track that competitors could not wait to get their wheels on through the heats and into the finals.
Twenty-seven entrants, separated into five separate classes, took to the hills in the Nicola Valley the weekend of August 12-13, 2017. The Ultra4 class of 4400’s was the largest with 14 racers on deck, hitting the track at the same time in qualifying order to put on a show like no other. These elite racers are fighting for a spot in the coveted “TOUGHEST OFF-ROAD RACE ON EARTH,” the King of the Hammers (KOH). With a huge nod to the efforts and reputation of the Punisher Race Series - Ultra4 Racing has granted entry to the top two 4400 class finishers in the Punisher Race Series into KOH for 2018.
When the dust had settled and the awards were handed out – what was the consensus among racers and Punisher Officials? “We will be back!” Merritt Offroad Racing Events (MORE) executed the event with professionalism and class, and gave the competitors a top-notch playground. Fans were excited to watch at least 90% (or more) of the course from the viewing area, and every single class of driver and vehicle had a BLAST on their
respective lines. Racers described the track as challenging for the drivers yet easy on the cars – they could push hard without TOO much fear of breaking equipment, which is of course a HUGE plus.
The Punisher Race Series was born during one of the long, Monster, Copenhagen and frozen Snickers fueled drives from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta to Johnson Valley, California. Shawn Holland, Eric Brinker and Ryan Stambaugh started discussing the idea while on a trip to KOH. These guys meant business. In less than six months from that conversation, the first Punisher Race was held July 2015 at Tail Creek Raceway in Alix, Alberta, followed by another that fall. While these guys are still logging thousands of kilometres a year to compete in Texas, California, and Nevada – they are putting all they have into building this sport at home. They’ve added a total of three races to the series – with a fourth on the way - after the success and excitement surrounding the Merritt event. Punisher Racing runs three pro Ultra4 classes – 4400, 4500, and 4600 - along with three pro Outlaw4 classes, and two UTV classes. The focus has been on building a relationship with the off-road community in Canada, and providing a stage to showcase the talents and passions of these individuals. The grassroots Punisher Racing Series is quickly forging a solid position on the off-road race scene – the future of Ultra4 in Canada is bright… dusty, but bright!