For the past few years, Dale Hilton of Dirty Dawg Performance, has been asking me to come up to Minnesota to ride or race each Fall. Living in Alabama, the seventeen hour drive to Minnesota has always presented a challenge, up until this year. All of our other races lined up just right, allowing us to make the trek to the northern United States to a great little town called Willow River.
Upon arriving at Willow River, we were greeted with open arms, although with only one word spoken at the gate, Dee Black (trusty sidekick) and I were immediately identified as “the Alabama guys”. Apparently, our reputation preceded us. Well, more likely, we were just the only southern-accented people driving up from Alabama, but I’ll chose to believe the earlier claim.
Great Willow River Atmosphere
As soon as we rolled through the gate, the amazing character of this event began to unfold. The race is held on property owned by Bradee Mlaskoch and his family. Through the years, they have created an amazing atmosphere on the property, consisting of several period-correct buildings from the days of the wild west. It would not have surprised me to see Randolph Scott or John Wayne riding horseback through Main Street guiding my trailer into the pits. The attention to detail and high craftsmanship of the architecture there was definitely foreshadowing as to how the Minnesota culture would handle this first annual event.
The course at the Wild Bill 120 consisted of just over 3 miles of high speed terrain, bermed corners, multiple tabletops, a long whoop section, and many tight trails truly testing the metal of each racer lined up to compete.
The Class Structure
Three separate UTV classes attacked the course at separate times with the 800’s leading the way, followed by the 900 class, and finally concluded by the 1000 class. All three classes would run two motos each with those moto finishes averaged together for the overall score.
From the dead engine start of the first moto, I rounded the first corner in third place, not what I was hoping for, but definitely better than it could have been seeing as how I was not accustomed to dead engine starts. The tight course did not lend itself very well for passing, but definitely kept everyone on their toes to try and stay mistake-free. After the third or fourth lap, I was able to make my way into the lead. During that first moto, I noticed the temperature gauge rising, something that has plagued me for the last couple of races. However, this time, the temperature did not rise above 220, sustained. I was able to nurse the blistering fast RZR XP 1000 back to the pits and retain the lead for the moto 1 win.
Upon examining the issue in the pits, I realized that some of the Driven Racing Oil CSP protected coolant had been pushed out of the system, most likely due to a head gasket failure, which was most likely caused by overheating at a previous event. Without any other options, I was able to borrow a stiffer radiator cap from a fellow racer and cross my fingers that it would allow enough fluid to stay in the system to finish the race.
Picking the first spot on the line for moto two was not the lucky charm I had hoped it would be. After another lackluster start, I ended up in third place once more. The Blue Torch Fab tuned OEM shocks on this XP1K had it riding on rails and I was able to slip inside of second place prior to heading into the woods section on lap one. I remained in second place throughout most of lap one and was able to take over the lead just a few feet before the beginning of lap two. After gaining the lead, I transitioned to self preservation mode, trying to do everything I could to go fast without putting too much pressure into the cylinders, hoping to keep as much fluid in the cooling system as possible. This strategy paid off as ¾ through the race, the engine temps were still below 180. I could see the field behind me staying consistently within striking range, so there was definitely no room for relaxation.
Thankfully, the amazing RZR XP 1000 held on throughout the punishment I dished out and I was able to grab a win in moto 2 as well, resulting in the overall win for the day.
On Board Video
All in all, I could not be more happy with how this machine performed. I feel like we have it dialed in now and it’s primed to continue its winning streak through the remainder of the year.
I would like to give a huge thanks to Dale Hilton at Dirty Dawg Performance for convincing us to make the long trip up to Minnesota. I’m absolutely hooked on this event and I can’t wait to be a part of it’s growth for years to come. The entire Willow River community welcomed us with open arms and could not have been more hospitable. It really shows that motorsports, especially powersports, brings its enthusiasts together around a common bond.
Thanks to Entice Media Works for being on hand and taking some great event photos.
This team wouldn’t be possible without the help of the following team sponsors:
Octane Media, Polaris, GBC Motorsports, KC HiLiTES, HiPer Technology, Driven Racing Oil, Morgan Performance Fabrication, PRP Seats, ATVScene.com, Blue Torch Fab, Yoshimura, DirtyDawg Performance, and K4 Switches.