Day Trip to Sand Mountain to Play in the Dunes

February 28, 2010

I twisted my buddy Dave’s arm to make a day trip to Sand Mountain with me so I could do some more testing with our Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx. We were in between storms, and it was likely to be our only window for the week.  The skies were clear, but as we drove through South Lake Tahoe, the temps hit 6 degrees. Brrr.

Driving along the edge of Lake Tahoe on Highway 50, we saw a flashing sign that chains were required going over Spooner Summit.  Uh oh, that’s not what we need right now.  But we drove right up and over the summit without any other signs and made it down to Carson City.  Then I got worried again.  There was about 3″ of snow in the Carson Valley and out past Dayton.  If we had that much snow at Sand Mountain, the trip would be a waste of time.

Once we got out to Fallon, the snow lessened and by the time we got to Sand Mountain, we were looking good.  As we rolled down the road at Sand Mountain on this chilly Monday, the place was deserted.  Now I have been to Sand Mountain when there are only a few camps, but never when I have had the place completely to ourselves.

My goal for this car was to build something that could race in King of the Hammers, desert racing, a little short course with VORRA (more of a desert focus on a short course at Prairie City SVRA) and also be able to take it to the dunes, Moab and the Rubicon.

From what I have seen, most race cars don’t make good play cars. For one they are too specifically built to be versitile.

Well other than a few teething issues that we worked through at KOH, the car did incredibly well and could have easily been a contender if we ran a smooth race.

For those of you that have never been to Sand Mountain has a very long steep hill that is tough for UTVs to climb. A stock Rhino can’t make it to the top. A stock Teryx can’t unless conditions are ideal and you have paddles and/or a few performance goodies. A stock RZR S can make it to the top with Bighorns.

I decided to leave the DFR Baja Crippler beadlocks and 26.5″ Pit Bull Rocker XORs on the car. If you ride in the dunes much, you know that the weight of the tire/wheel is crucial. The setup I have is built for durability and performance in the rocks. Tires are 8 ply and the 14″ wheels have super beefy reinforcing rings. The combo is NOT light, but they are tough.

I was happy to see that the power from the Muzzys 840cc Teryx in full race dress was able to make it to the top, no problem. Very cool. Check one for power. And with some paddles I think it will do much better.

Then we played around in the dunes to see how it felt. The only complaint I have is rear visibility (radiator). With the lower sides, the car is harder to get into than a stock UTV, but easier than many other race cars. But I still feel safe in it. Good compromise. The Unisteer power steering is super nice. I didn’t really notice it while driving because it is subtle. But when I hopped in my RZR for a spin I noticed that the steering felt heavy. Pretty cool. The Teryx also feels like it is nimble in the dunes. The Fox Shox felt good doing a few jumps, and g-outs weren’t an issue. I did add a iTi Performance Motorsports swaybar in the rear (not on for KOH), and that really helped the body roll. I will add the iTi front sway bar for the VORRA short course race and I am sure it will handle the hairpin turns real flat. I will probably switch to a 25.5″ Pit Bull for the race.

The VORRA race is March 20-21 in Sacramento. Pretty fun course and the event is real relaxed. If your are nearby, consider racing or coming out to spectate.

Monster Energy Kawasaki Teryx at Sand Mountain

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