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Wickham Racing Wrecks In Qualifying But Finishes Ultra4 National Championship Strong

Spectre Performance sponsored Wickham Racing team of brothers Kyle and Jade Wickham compete in the 4800 Legends Class of the Ultra4 Racing Series

The Spectre Performance sponsored Wickham Racing team of brothers Kyle and Jade Wickham compete in the 4800 Legends Class of the Ultra4 Racing Series (Photo by: Thom Kingston)

Hammerking Productions is the force behind the toughest one-day off-road race on the planet: King of The Hammers. Due to the incredible success of King of the Hammers, Hammerking created the ULTRA4 Racing Series with seven races held throughout the country. The Spectre Performance sponsored Wickham Racing team of brothers Kyle and Jade Wickham compete in the 4800 Legends Class of the Ultra4 Racing Series. Due to time constraints the limited classes do not normally start their heat races based on qualifying times. Instead, their half hour heat race starting position is based on the luck of the draw.

Wickham Brothers in the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada

At the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada the Wickham Brothers had to run a qualifying lap for their first time and it was one they will never forget (Photo by: Vision X Lighting - Danny Adair)

At the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada the Wickham Brothers had to run a qualifying lap for their first time in the 4800 class and it would be a qualifying lap they will never forget. As soon as the green flag dropped on their qualifying run, driver Kyle Wickham got on the gas hard in their Spectre HPR air filter equipped 4823 car and the duo was on their way to a pretty fast lap time. As they shot down the final straight away, Kyle and Jade hit the whoops section a bit too fast and slightly crooked. Things felt fine when they hit the first whoop, but as their buggy landed on the next one things got ugly.

Wickham Brothers in the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada

When the green flag dropped on their qualifying run, driver Kyle Wickham got on the gas hard in their Spectre HPR air filter equipped 4823 car and the duo was on a pretty fast lap time (Photo by: Thom Kingston)

"When we came down onto the second whoop the suspension loaded up and sent the rear end over the top of us," said Jade Wickham. "The car rolled forward, to the side, cartwheeled, and spun around like a top before it landed on the driver’s side across the finish line. We both just remember seeing dirt flying at our helmets." Fortunately the recovery and safety crews arrived quickly and helped the Wickham brothers out of the car. Both Jade and Kyle Wickham came through the crash without harm, but the same couldn’t be said for the car. "The car was hauled back with a forklift, and it looked like we were finished for the weekend," said Jade.

Wickham Brothers in the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada

As they shot down the final straight away in qualifying, Kyle and Jade Wickham hit the whoops section a bit too fast and slightly crooked resulting in a roll, spin, and cartwheel maneuver (Photo by: Thom Kingston)

But that’s when the real work started for the entire Wickham Racing team. Kyle and Jade’s father Doug Wickham met the brothers back at the pits. After making sure they were okay, Doug asked his sons what they wanted to do. "He told us if we feel like we can still race the next day the buggy will be ready," said Jade. After assessing the damage to the buggy the team felt confident they could make the necessary repairs in time for the main event. But with only one of their 4 shocks left in usable condition it was going to be tough. "That’s when Ultra4 sportsmanship showed up in full force. First someone came by offering some parts for shocks, then Anthony Arreola (driver of the #4861 car) came over offering his extra set of shocks to get us back on the track," said Jade Wickham.

Wickham Brothers in the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada

Just 45 minutes before the start of the main event Wickham Racing had the car back together and with the adrenaline pumping started the 2015 Nitto National Championship main in last (Photo by: White Collar Publishing)

Repairs were going as planned and on schedule until Wickham Racing noticed that the tail housing on their GM TH400 transmission was broken. The team could have given up, but instead they removed their transmission and went team to team asking if anyone had a transmission they could borrow. Kyle Wickham scored sometime after dark when Travis Cook was kind enough to lend them a transmission. Only difference was that this borrowed transmission had a reverse shift pattern and Kyle would have to re-learn how to drive. Things like shifting become an unconscious reflex while racing and training himself to shift differently would not be an easy task.

With the new transmission in place Wickham Racing was able to see just how hard they crashed. The transmission mounts didn’t line up because the chassis was tweaked just enough to cause a misalignment. This was around 2 am and Wickham Racing decided to get some rest; hoping for better luck in the morning. The next day another helpful member of the Ultra4 family, Andrew McLaughlin of LetzRoll Offroad Racing, showed up and loaned Wickham Racing a plasma cutter, welder, and generator.

Wickham Brothers take 4ht place  in the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in Reno, Nevada

Wickham Racing was proud to have finished the Ultra4 race in their broken and battered Spectre equipped 4823 car; and as it turns out, they also came from 20th to finish 4th (Photo by: White Collar Publishing)

The plan was to cut off the brackets and reweld them so that the transmission mounts would line up. Just 45 minutes before the start of the main event Wickham Racing had the car back together. A quick test drive revealed that the right front spindle was badly bent and the brake was hanging up. With no time to find another spindle the team removed the right front brake, capped the brake line and forged on. Between the whole crew, over 100 man hours were put into the Wickham Racing #4823 car to get it back together.

Because Jade and Kyle missed their heat race they were forced to start from the back of the pack in the main. "We knew it was not going to be easy to make it back up to the front and be able to keep up with the leaders with a car that is far from 100%. But we had a strong motor and a lot of motivation from a team that stayed up all night getting us back on the track," said Jade Wickham. With the adrenaline pumping, the Wickham brothers made it past a couple of cars almost immediately after the green flag dropped. "We had no idea where we were in the field of 20 cars due to the other classes on the track. We just focused on keeping the car together, making the next pass, and finishing the race," said Jade.

Around the race’s mid-point Kyle’s intercom cord came unplugged and they were unable to plug it back in while driving. Jade was forced to use hand signals to communicate with Kyle and help him navigate the track. "Kyle was so focused he did not see the white flag come out and I couldn’t get that across to him. So I just kept signaling to go faster by hitting his leg and pointing ahead," said Jade. Coming around the track one last time, Doug Wickham was able to warn Jade about a traffic jam in the last rock section and that if they stayed right, they could make it past. Again Jade struggled to communicate this to Kyle, doing everything he could short of grabbing the steering wheel. It paid off for the Wickham brothers as they slid past the pile up and crossed the finish line hard on the gas. Kyle, in his sleep deprived and focused state of mind failed to notice the checkered flag. "He wanted to keep racing. It took me punching him in the arm and a track official waiving the red flag to get him to stop. It took Kyle a while to realize that the race was over and we finished," said Jade.

Wickham Racing was proud just to have finished the 2015 Nitto National Championship Ultra4 race in their broken and battered Spectre equipped 4823 car. But as it turns out, they also came from 20th place to finish a very solid 4th in the 4800 class. "We couldn’t be happier with that finish. Thank you to all that stopped by, helped us out and showed their support. This is what Ultra4 racing was built on. We will see everyone on the lakebed," said Jade. The lakebed Jade refers to is Means Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley OHV area near Landers, California. Here Hammerking Productions has held the infamous King of the Hammers race every year since 2007. The next King of the Hammers week will begin January 31st, 2016 with the King of the Motos race and will conclude on February 5th, 2016 with the Nitto King of The Hammers Presented by 4 Wheel Parts.


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