Champion, PA (May 31, 2021) Polaris RZR/Yokley Racing driver, John Barnes tracked 10 hours north from Bowling Green, KY to the beautiful mountains of Western PA for the Red Bull Mountain Scramble to make it the second race of the Memorial Day weekend. Thousands of fans and 120 drivers started arriving throughout the weekend. The event was one of the largest UTV events on the East Coast, and it would not disappoint.
Greeting everyone was a beautiful 8 mile course through the Seven Springs Ski Resort. Starting up a ski slope, the track traveled through wide open dirt roads eventually heading into the mountains. The mountain trails had thousands of rocks and boulders exposed waiting to bring carnage to the unexpecting customer. The mountains spit you back into the ski slopes to a steep uphill black diamond, and then back down to the finish. Barnes luck started great on Sunday drawing a number 6 spoon. This would mean he would be on row one with 22 other UTV’s. The excitement was high on Sunday. Drivers had a choice of biking or riding the course for one parade lap that afternoon with the race being on Monday morning. Many drivers broke their machine on Sunday taking themselves out of Monday’s race. Broken off wheels was the site around the pits on Sunday. Barnes elected to mountain bike the track. That was an adventure. The E-bike battery could not last the final stretch forcing Barnes to abandon the bike on a black diamond ski slope a mile before the finish. He laid on the ground once he made it to the top back to the pits. It was an accomplishment in itself.
On Monday morning, the team realized that the spoon spots were assigned by track officials and not by selection. Barnes thought he was seeing things. He was staring at the biggest pile of snow he’d ever seen at the location the track official said he was to take off from. Barnes commented, “I knew it was going to be a long day. I was going to have to go around this huge pile of snow while most of the guys were able to go straight up the mountain.” The prior day of drawing spoons of “Vegas” luck had ran out.
Monday morning at 10:20am, the green flag waved for the dead engine start. Barnes made his way around the snow pile to get side swiped as he made the way up the mountain. When the other half of the field came together around the snow pile, a second SxS absolutely slammed the drivers side front end of Barnes. He commented, “ I was hit so hard it vibrated every bone in my body. I could not believe the car would still move.” The RZR that provided the impact ended their day at that spot with broken a arms.”
Barnes made his way from 15th into the top 5 by putting a nice charge in and making smart line choice heading into the rock garden forest. All of the sudden, the RZR lost steering capability. The drivers side upper ball joint decided it had enough and let loose sending the wheel on its side making it impossible to steer. As Barnes assessed the damage, there was nothing that could be done. The impact up the mountain at the start had wounded his RZR eventually taking its toll on the mountain trail. Barnes had a lot of time to get acquainted with the Pennsylvania woods as it took 3 1/2 hours for track officials to get to him. At the end of the race, only 20 of 120 UTVs would actually see the finish line of the 4 lap race. Red Bull put on a mountain survival race with a 16 percent chance of finishing. XC racing is not for the faint of heart. What a Memorial Day to remember! A big thanks goes out to the 2021 Sponsors: Polaris RZR, Yokley Racing, Super ATV, Big Country Powersports, STI Tire & Wheel, Elka Suspension, Dynojet Research, Millennium Technologies, VP Racing Fuels, Double E Racing, Trinity Racing Exhaust, SSI Decals, CP Carrillo, Epowersteering.com, IMS, MTNTK Performance, PPEI Custom Tuning, RT Pro, Coffman Custom Machine, Longhorn Fab Shop, PRP Seats, Hot Cams, Razorback Technology, Mid TN Off-Road, STM, RZR Extreme, Alba Racing, Hess Motorsports, Tire Balls East, Monster Energy, Zollinger Racing Products, Barnes Off-Road Marketing, LLC