RIVERSIDE, CA AUGUST 27, 2009: Kevin Sacalas takes the Best In The Desert (BITD) Vegas to Reno the Long Way win in the Ultra4 class August 20-August 22. Sacalas was the only Ultra4 driver to iron man the event and successfully cross the finish line all three days in the longest off road race in the USA. This win also secures him a starting position in the 2010 King of the Hammers.
The new Ultra4 class in BITD allowed “rock crawlers” to compete in this epic desert race. Without a vehicle to participate in this class, Sacalas spent five months designing his first attempt at fabricating a complete car, but naturally the bulk of the build was completed in the 9 days prior to the race. The first day of the race was the second day in the vehicle, the only testing was the weekend prior when Bilstein tuned in the shocks for the mighty load. The vehicle worked with only a handful of mechanical difficulties, mostly related to the heat which plagued all teams during this intense race. “The heat was brutal,” said Sacalas, “we had to replace melted bushings and contend with overheating just to name a few obstacles.”
The Viking Offroad team competed against eleven vehicles in the Ultra4 class. With a tracker that didn’t work on Day 1, no one even knew that Sacalas was getting ready to cross the finish line after being on the course for close to eleven hours. As Sacalas learned to drive the vehicle, and lost his clutch due to silt, he made the decision that it would be unsafe to put someone else into the driver’s seat. He would have to accomplish this race on his own with co-driver Doug Williams by his side. Day 2 offered more setbacks, but the team continued to push through to the finish line, and was the only Ultra4 vehicle to finish the first 2 days. By the morning of Day 3 they knew they just needed to finish to win and by this time Sacalas had adapted to the vehicle and the terrain “we felt more comfortable driving in the blind silt for minutes at a time,” said co-driver Williams. They successfully completed Day 3 with no rear brakes and a poorly functioning clutch. The feeling of accomplishment was evident at the finish line as they took the checkered flag for the win. After adjusted time, Sacalas 4435 finished in 31 hours 12 minutes, 2 hours ahead of the second place team.
Viking Offroad took a chance and sponsored a team that was an underdog going into this race. Their car was unheard of and their names were not among the elite. But now, they are in the record books as the first ever winner of the Ultra4 class in the longest BITD race in history. “I am addicted! It was fun and I would like to do some smaller races,” said Sacalas.