PU­N­ISHER is the Path to King of the Ham­mers

4WDrive - - Feature - Words by Michelle Narang, Pho­tos by Jeff Allen of Fat Kid Photography

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!

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