AZOP Takes Over Cinder Mountains For Brutal Race

Round 8 of AZOP’s championship series races in Flagstaff

August 2018 Racing Jonathan Barrett

The Cinder Mountains near Sunset Crater in Flagstaff, AZ, offer some of the most unique OHV trail systems and terrain in all of Arizona. The volcanic sand can be found nowhere else in the southwest and was the 8th stop in the Arizona Offroad Promotions championship series.

With only one day of racing, the racers came to battle in the 88-mile race across the tight trails and wide open mountain ranges that this area had to offer. Presented by Moto Race Tire and Star Lightbars, the event was full of food, vendors and plenty of play. The Peewees took control of the morning on their own two-mile track next to the main staging area, complete with multiple whoops sections, inclines, declines and dense volcanic sand. With the sun just coming up and the weather clear and cool, the Peewee Bikes lined up.

With multiple podiums already under their belt, the Skersick brothers performed strongly yet again with Colson taking the victory in his 65cc C class with 15 laps, finishing ahead of Zayden Serna with 12 laps and Ayden Candelaria with 10 laps. Cooper Skersick took the 50cc 7-8 Years Old class with 13 laps, ahead of Rhylan Benally with 12 laps and Wyatt Massey with 11 laps. Steele Robinson won the 50cc 4-6 Year Old class, with Courtney Curley and Jayce Letner in tow.

Next up was the Johnson brothers of the Thin Air Offroad Park in nearby Winslow showing up to dominate in the Peewee Quad class. Landen was running a strong race in the ATV 80cc+ Advanced class until a pileup on a narrow section sent him hurdling into the back of Caleb Sartor and taking a few seconds to get untangled from him. Those few seconds combined with a few other errors on the tight course was all the Gabriel Simmons and Caleb Sartor needed to pull ahead on Johnson, finishing first and second respectively. The Caliber Racing quad of Cole Rusnell also ran strong, finishing just behind Johnson. In the ATV 80+cc Beginner class, 12 quads lined up in a single row and took off to battle. Despite flipping over, Brayden Earlewine took the victory, showing that nothing can stop you if you want the victory bad enough. Brendon Turner and Cade Little rounded out the podium, finishing within a minute of Earlewine.

Following the peewees, the minis rode out to the big track, albeit cut off at 5 miles, to ride their most scenic race of the year. The Mini Bikes came out to traverse the long whoops sections and tight single track, with Marley Kuhn taking the 65cc B class followed by Colton Calmes and Sam Yazzie. The Boyd Brothers Racing Kawasaki of Chase Boyd took a solid fourth, followed by Chase Dugan, who after finishing couldn’t even stand to ride his bike into his pit area, falling into his parents arms, exhausted. Emilee Carter came out to gain more experience and did just that, finishing five laps and winning her Women C class. Keegan Hardy, Cody Reyes and Dominic Craighill represented the 80-150cc A class and all performed well, finishing eight laps each and finishing within two minutes of each other. The other half of Boyd Brothers Racing finished strong in the 80-150cc B class, taking third behind Porter May and Cole Fryar. Gunner Deatherage also had a great performance, getting stronger each race following his injury earlier this year. Last but not least, the stacked 80-150cc C class brought Clay Stringer to the top of the podium in his hometown, followed by Austin Marini and Demarco Dugi. Other notable finishes include Tyler Rees taking ninth and Trevor Supalla taking sixth. Overall finishes for Mini Bike is as follows; Keegan Hardy, Cody Reyes, Dominic Craighill, Cole Fryar, Clay Stringer, Porter May, Travis Boyd, Austin Marini, Demarco Dugi and Breyden Hightower.

When the Mini Quads took to the course, there was one thing on Carly Senter’s mind—victory. The Caliber racing member has been absolutely dominant in the 250-400cc class this year, and this year was no different. Representing the minority of female off-road racers as well as the small female ATV riding community, she came out swinging and took the top spot on the podium, followed by the Colorado racer Marcus Harris and Tyler Tsosie. All three ran a tight race and finished within three seconds of each other. In the 91-300cc 10-15 Years Old class, Wyatt Rock showed his Caliber Racing superiority and took the win a full lap ahead of second place of Kolbie Lang (CMPFoto/Blud Lubricants sponsored rider) and the next Caliber Racing competitor of Ryan Forward.

Top 11 results are Wyatt Rock, Carly Senter, Marcus Harris, Kolbie Lang, Tyler Tsosie, Ryan Forward, Kasey Snyde, Wyatt Little, Dakota Hibler, Mason Sabatina and Lane Fryar.

The ATVs took to the course following the maelstrom of bad weather the bikes had to endure, racing in cloudy weather and lots of mud. Without a constant rain, the quads had an easier time seeing in the cinders sections, but the mud was brutal in the dirt sections.

The Pro class was stacked with 11 riders, with the WORCS top contending rider Mike Sloan taking the early lead and then started to show his dominance. After two laps, a combination of taking a wrong turn and a battery malfunction led Sloan to an early end to his day. The Pointless Racing Honda’s of Erin and Andrew Simmons started strong, with Andrew in fourth place after lap one and Erin mid pack in sixth. Jarrett Curley took an early second place behind Sloan, dropping to fourth on lap two and back up to second on lap three. Andrew Simmons would take one position on lap two and then overtook Curley and took home the win overall. Curley would take home second place, with Tyler Benally taking home third. Koby Dodson had a rough race this weekend, starting mid pack and working his way up to fifth after lap two, making the pass on fourth place. While pushing for a podium, Dodson clipped a tree and bent his steering stem, snapped his steering stabilizer and got bucked off his bike. After getting back on, he limped his bike to an eighth place finish.

In the Expert class, Michael Tsosie started dead last without any tearoffs, treading slowly through the thick mud, trying to keep his vision steady. Lap two got him new goggles and a new pace, catching up to his class and finally finding first place on lap three, holding it until the checkered flag. Austin Snyder would also hold a strong race, taking second place home, followed by the Colorado racer Noah Harris and family member Kent Harris. Deshawn Tallsalt was fifth off the line, losing a few positions through the rough mud sections and finally settling on a sixth place finish with no goggles.

Nick Helton would take the win in Sportsman, the only Sportsman to complete four laps. Logan Heath and Bradley Joel would take second and third respectively, with an honorable mention of Nicole Earlewine gaining experience, finishing mid pack at eighth place. Micheal Mack had a solid race until mechanical gremlins took him out on lap two.

The ATC 3-Wheelers had Tim Coulson winning, followed by Leesa Bolden. Top 10 finishes go to Andrew Simmons, Jarrett Curley, Tyler Benally, Erin Simmons, Harry Donald, Michael Tsosie, Justin Keeton, Austin Snyder, Noah Harris and Nick Helton.

Sunday would bring 42 UTVs lined up in the lake bed for the most grueling race of the season. With 13 Pros lined up, it would be the Can-Am of Christopher Blais hot on the trail of Cole Freaday, passing the halfway mark of lap one, with Sean Lynch and Tom Wilson hot in tow. Freaday would break a joint in his car and give the lead to Blais, ending his day after one lap. At the end of lap one, Lynch would have the lead with Blais 10 seconds behind him and Wilson one minute behind Blais. Lap two had Lynch and Blais still battling through the miles of whoops and tight trees, with Lynch still holding onto the lead. Lap three saw Blais take the lead away and hold it until the checkered flag, ultimately landing him first overall. Lynch finished right on his bumper in second with Wilson finishing two minutes down from Lynch. Unfortunately, the hot streak of James Moore and AWC Racing came to an end with a mechanical failure costing him his day on lap one.

Chase De Sousa Dias took home gold in the 900cc class with Evan Striplin, Travis White and Clay Winiecki behind him. In the 1000cc Non-Turbo class, the ATD Automotive female racer of Hailey Hein would win, beating Barry Bennett in second and Mike Nieves in third, the only Polaris RZR RS1 on the course. The 1000cc Turbo class had the promising Kali Kinsman dominating the class and on track for a victory, until five miles from the finish when she would break a tie rod and end her day on the side of the course. Neil Carse took the win in class, followed by Greg Geiser and Craig Hein. Top 10 finishers are Christopher Blais, Sean Lynch, Tom Wilson, Neil Carse, Greg Geiser, William Bedlion, Craig Hein, Mike Knightly, Chase De Sousa Dias and Garrick Lastra.

In the UTV170 class, Lucas Johnson put the hammer down on the rest of the class, taking home first, followed by Ashton Stowell and the Hisun Strike 250 of Ian Kowalski, who clipped a tree and still managed a podium finish. The rest of the class went to Vincent Riccitelli, Rhiannon Brinkerhoff, Rhyland Stowell and Jaxen Gibson.

The UTV570s took on the big course and showed their prowess with Grace Vinagro taking first, followed by Riley Hein, Blayne Rockhill, Landen De Sousa Dias, Kasyn Matthews and Ellie Koester.

The 2018 Cinder Mountain Hare Scramble was an exciting one, complete with hail, rain, fog, and lots of action. Next round goes to Prescott Valley, AZ, for the Lynx Creek

Hare Scrambles Aug. 18-19. More info can be found at

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