Off Road

2023 Great American Shortcourse, Ultra4 USA begin with King of the Hammers crossover

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Credit: Art Eugenio/Red Bull Content Pool

While Great American Shortcourse is a short course off-road series and Ultra4 USA focuses on rock crawling, both will begin their 2023 seasons together in Johnson Valley, California with the King of the Hammers.

GAS was previously due to attend KOH in 2022 with an exhibition race called the Off Road Race of Champions, which would have pitted the 2021 class champions in Pro 2, Pro Lite, Pro Buggy, Production 1000 UTV, Pro Turbo UTV, and Mod Kart against each other in stadium trucks; the winner would receive a scholarship to contest the full 2023 Stadium Super Trucks season. However, the plans were abandoned as SST’s leadership was occupied with launching the SPEED UTV brand.

King of the Hammers is Ultra4’s premier event with a three-week calendar from 26 January to 11 February. It will award double points and go towards the national championship, both of which also apply to the Visions Off-Road in Oklahoma and the season-ending Legends of the Fall in Arizona. Much of the schedule is otherwise divided into East and West regional championships, though both will also come together for the Crandon International Off-Road Raceway round in late August, which is expanded from their previous Crandon World Cup participation; this new Crandon round has a three-year deal through 2025. Ultra4’s Youth 170 classes will also support every round except for KOH with their own regional and national standings.

The collaboration makes sense for all parties involved as GAS is co-run by Hammerking Productions owner Dave Cole, whose company previously oversaw KOH and Ultra4 before selling them to MidAmerica Outdoors in March.

Credit: King of the Hammers

Great American Shortcourse’s third season of operation will see the series continue racing at Glen Helen Raceway and the SBC Fairgrounds in Southern California. For the first time, however, GAS will also head outside California with a round in Primm, Nevada; behind the Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino is an off-road course that has hosted desert races like the Mint 400 and Best In The Desert.

The inaugural GAS schedule in 2021 featured a non-California round at Wild West Motorsports Park in Nevada until it closed six months before race weekend. GAS tried again in 2022 with Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Arizona before it was dropped without much explanation; an attempt by The Checkered Flag to reach out for comment went unanswered. Wild Horse is set to close in 2023 due to expansion of the nearby Interstate 10. Consequently, both the 2021 and 2022 GAS seasons have exclusively alternated between Glen Helen and SBC. 2022 will end at the latter on 12/13 November.

2023 Great American Shortcourse schedule

1King of the HammersJohnson Valley, CA6 February
2–3Glen Helen RacewaySan Bernardino, CA22–23 April
4–5SBC FairgroundsVictorville, CA10–11 June
6–7Primm RacewayPrimm, NV7–8 October
8–9SBC FairgroundsVictorville, CA4–5 November

2023 Ultra4 USA schedule

1King of the HammersDouble pointsJohnson Valley, CA2–11 February
2Rush Off-RoadEastRush, KY20–23 April
3Yellowstone Off Road RacingWestBroadview, MT18–21 May
4Visions Off-RoadDouble pointsOklahoma14–18 June
5Famous Reading OutdoorsEastPottsville, PA27–30 July
6Crandon InternationalEast/WestCrandon, WI31 August – 4 September
7South Grand Lake Recreation AreaWest/WestLangley, OK28 September – 1 October
8Legends of the FallDouble pointsLake Havasu City, AZ24–29 October
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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