Chaos Ensues Amongst the Kiddos
Mandle and Warner Victorious at King of the Hammers First Youth Competition
Words: Heather Wilson
Photos: Logan Gallagher & Justin W. Coffey
After the Nitto Race of Kings qualifying and power hour, twenty-six young guns took to the condensed and reversed short course at the first-ever youth event at King of the Hammers. The fact that these kids don’t have drivers’ licenses didn’t stop them (or slow them down).
Of course, many have parents competing in King of the Hammers competition as well, who either hyped up their kids or calmed them down prior to the competition. It’s requires balance to prepare young ones, many no older than eight-years-old, for an adrenaline fest such as the KOH Kids 170 race. Let alone in front of a massive crowd!
As daylight faded to dusk, the young racers had to adapt to racing under the lights. Around 6:00 pm, the Kids 250 Modified class drivers piloted their single-seat machines around the course for the sight lap behind the pace car, then took off from a rolling start.
Jacob Williamson (#237) took the lead, with Jackson Mandle (#325) close behind in his Polaris RZR. At the second sweeping turn, Hudson Wilson (#402) sent his car careening into the sky. It launched from the embankment, then toppled over the crest of the mound, tumbling down the other side, landing on its wheels. Soon, the mandatory yellow flag emerged. Unfortunately, Wilson’s race ended there, but the other kids were quickly back in race form and zipping through the track… briefly.
Another small wipe out by Raleigh May (#725), nicknamed “Hurricane,” brought out another caution on the second lap. Unable to proceed, May exited the track, and there were just four cars left. One lap later, leader Williamson’s race came to a premature end.
Mandle took over the lead just before the halfway point, with brothers Mason (#210) and Wyatt Cotter (#212) continuing to charge from behind. Throughout the twelve-lap race, the perimeter of the track was littered with parents spotting for their children, radioing to their son or daughter to take it easy or step on the gas.
Although it was Williamson who captured the quickest time in qualifying, it was Mandle, second in qualifying, who ultimately seized the win in the Kids 250 Modified class. Mandle, age 10, has been racing since he was four years old. The Cotter brothers rounded out the podium.
“It was very fun,” said Mandle. “A huge thank you to Brian Carr at Carr One for getting this sick build. Thanks to Polaris Racing, ORW, San Diego Powder Coatings, Motul, Rugged Radios, Roll Designs, Jamar, Antigravity Batteries, HMF, Hawk9, Pepper Tuning, Sparco, DS Customs, and Havoc.”
Turning to the Kids Stock 170 class, Pinnacle Racing’s Cole Warner (#119) qualified the fastest out of 19. Some racers utilized co-drivers, while others drove solo. Following the sight lap and rolling start, it was another breathtaking moment for the crowd as Domenico Allegri (#1949) had a major roll on the turn before the finish line.
Polaris driver Brixton Wirt (#114), age 8, led the field for a couple of laps, but Warner’s pace was exceptional. Warner, three years into his racing career, powered his Polaris RZR 170 past Wirt after a second-place start. He pulled away from the rest of the field, leading the remainder of the 12-lap race. Wirt crossed the finish line in second place, 21.088 seconds behind Warner.
Racing runs in the family for 10-year-old Ryland Gaughan (#162), who claimed the last step of the podium after coming from tenth early on. His dad, Brendan Gaughan, is a retired NASCAR driver and pilots a South Point Trophy Truck. His grandfather, Michael Gaughan, is an inductee in the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Ryland hasn’t let the pressure get to him, though. He’s paved his own way in the racing community and was even a 2020-2021 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame Impact Award honoree at such a young age.
Although podium interview responses from the youth were brief, the young rippers all thanked their parents and their sponsors. They beamed with pride on the podium and celebrated with a sparkling apple juice shower.
Check out a replay of the action here!
King of the Hammers, a two-week-long event operated by Hammerking Productions (the founders of Ultra4 Racing), continues through February 11th. The event includes numerous challenging desert competitions for UTVs, buggies, trucks, and motorcycles.
All results posted are unofficial. To see the full current results, visit: https://live.ultra4racing.com/results/
YOUTH 170 STOCK
- Cole Warner (119), 12/12:47.750
- Brixton Wirt (114), 12/13:08.838
- Ryland Gaughan (162), 12/13:32.005
YOUTH 250 MODIFIED
- Jackson Mandle (325), 12/15:17.402
- Mason Cotter (210), 12/15:27.777
- Wyatt Cotter (212), 12/15:31.181
- Connor Power (275), 12/16:05.278