ST. GEORGE — Two St. George motosport enthusiasts are working towards making a name for themselves in the fast-paced world of desert racing.
St. George residents Skyler Howes, 22, and Colt Brinkerhoff, 26, are nearing the end of their current desert racing endeavor, the 2014 National Hare and Hound series. The races in this series can stretch as long as 100 miles and take over 3 hours to complete.
Howes, who races motorbikes and currently holds a fourth-place ranking in the 2014 NHH series, said he first started racing because it was something both his grandfather and father were passionate about. Now, he said, desert racing gives him a way to continue to feel that family vibe, both from his family present at the races and the bond he makes with other racers.
“That’s why I like desert racing so much,” Howes said. “When you’re out there, it’s like you’re just out riding with your buddies at a really high pace.”
Brinkerhoff, an ATV racer who has a guaranteed first-place spot in the 2014 NHH series, said desert racing can offer things other styles of motorized sports, such as motocross, cannot. With motocross races, riders go around the same track over and over again; giving them an idea of what to expect around each corner. When a person races in the desert, there are obstacles the rider does not expect.
These obstacles sometimes turn dangerous and can even be fatal, Brinkerhoff said. Once while he was competing in a race during a snowstorm in Wendover, a tire on his all-terrain vehicle broke, leaving him stranded on the snowy course.
After hours of waiting without rescue, and trying to kill a lizard for food, Brinkerhoff said, he grew weary and set out on his broken ATV. He eventually found the freeway and followed the road until a friend found him.
“I was out stranded out there for around six hours,” Brinkerhoff said. “While I didn’t get seriously hurt or anything in that race, it was still the worst thing ever.”
While he has experienced fractures, concussions and broken bones, Howes said, he wouldn’t give up the thrill of racing for anything. Being out in the desert gives a sense of freedom that those who have never raced don’t know, he said, and those that do race want to feel over and over again.
“Once you experience (a race) it’s in you, it’s in your blood,” Howes said. “From then on, it becomes a part of who you are, and you can’t see yourself doing anything else.”
Patty Blais, of Blais Racing Services in California, said her company currently sponsors Howes, but she has known both racers for years.
Brinkerhoff and Howes work hard in what they do, Blais said. A lot of time and dedication goes into competing on this level and both racers give it all they can.
“It takes a strong person to come back every year to try and win a championship,” Blais said, “They both have a good chance of making a career out of this.”
While winning championships in competitions around their local area is enjoyable, Howes said, these races are steppingstones for what both he and Brinkerhoff hope to accomplish.
“My goal … is to one day race the Dakar Rally,” Howes said. “So, to get to that point, I got to keep racing and work my way up.”
The Dakar Rally is an off-road endurance race, also known as a rally raid, which originated as a Paris to Dakar, Senegal, race but has been held in South America since 2009. The vehicles used in the 2014 Dakar Rally included specialized cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes, according to The Atlantic.
Brinkerhoff said he also dreams of one day racing in the Dakar Rally, but if he doesn’t get to that level, racing will still always play a large role of his life.
Whether it’s something that becomes … my job or something I just do with (my) kids in the future, it’s always gonna be there.” Brinkerhoff said.
The Baja 500 or Baja 1000 race, an event that both his father and grandfather have competed in, also appeal to Howes. Competing in such a large event members of his family have also competed in would be a dream come true, he said.
Howes will be racing in round 9 of the 2014 NHH series on Sunday in Yerington, Nevada, where, he said, he hopes to climb in the rankings.
Brinkerhoff said that while he has already clinched a first-place spot in the 2014 NHH series, he will still be competing in Round 10 on Oct. 25 in Lucerne Valley, California.
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