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40th SMOKIN WHEELS COMES TO A CLOSE

Will this be the end of the Guam Raceway Park?

PRESS RELEASE – This past weekend the Guam International Raceway hosted the 40th running of the APL Smokin Wheels Weekend which brought together a variety of exciting motorsports disciplines along with competitors from other countries to compete alongside Guam in a full weekend of motorsports.

On Sunday the endurance events that had started it all back in 1978 by John “Chubado” Camacho along with Henry Simpson fondly know as the “Animal” were held at the Jose and Herminia Calvo Memorial off-road course that was as tough as it has ever been. The Sunday endurance events included both four and two wheeled vehicles which saw two wheels on the course in the morning and four wheels churning up the dust or mud in the afternoon. In 1978 it was held up in the hills of Santa Rita on property owned by the late Jose and Herminia Calvo hence in 2023 it was being held on a course named in memory and in gratitude of the honored couple.

The 4-Hour Off-road Endurance pitted drivers from Japan, New Zealand and Guam on what has built its reputation as being an exciting but truly tough course that gives both driver and his machine along with those who assist an ultimate off-road racing endurance challenge. A balance of speed, patience and pure relentless stubbornness not to quit and just give up is needed to simply finish this ultimate off-road event along with a bit of luck. It takes even more to reach that top step of the podium and be declared an APL Smokin Wheels 4 hour Off-road Endurance champion. 

photo by Double “e” photography Rhandee Malicdem

Before the multi-time champion Ikuo Hanawa in his #190 V8 four wheeled drive buggy and the top timed qualifier this year was staged at the front of a single line rolling start with twenty five other vehicles staged behind him the pre-race safety meeting was held where they were joined by the Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio who welcomed all of the off island teams and wished all of the teams good luck and a safe race. 

At 1:30 pm in a down pour of rain the Cars Plus Jeep the official pace vehicle of the 2023 APL Smokin Wheels 4 Hour Off-road Endurance led the field of twenty-five on a lap for what would lead to a green flag start. At 1:38 pm the pace Jeep pulled to its right and the official clock was started with the waving of the green flag. Drivers immediately throttled up and were racing. The first hour went well for most drivers as there were no yellow caution flag incidents that were brought out with the #190 and the #33 leading the way up front. 

After the first full hour the course had started to show its teeth with help from mother nature who gifted a constant deluge of rain onto the event. Portions of the course had become quite challenging and several drivers were forced to retire after suffering mechanical issues. Just before the halfway mark of the four hour event the first yellow caution occurred that immediately bought out the Cars Plus pace Jeep to grab control of the race and lead all the drivers at a safe controlled 15 mph around the course after which several rescue and recovery vehicles provided by Guahan Jeeps were deployed. The caution took up most of an hour as several competitors were removed from where they had expired on the course. Once the course was cleared the pace vehicle made its exit as the race went green once more. 

With about an hour left in the event the leader Hanawa in the #190 v8 four wheeled buggy came to a stop on the back straight allowing the #100 of Hideyuki Katsumata to take the lead in his 4wd v8 buggy. With forty five minutes left the Cars Plus pace Jeep once again was deployed to take control of the race when another yellow caution was brought out. Several drivers had expired on the course with one having lost its rear wheel and hub after being clipped by another competitor. Once the race was brought under control Guahan Jeeps were once again deployed to rescue and recover. 

With fifteen minutes remaining and once again under a green flag the race resumed with Katsumata leading. In what is being called one of the hardest and wildest the #100 of Hideki Katsumata took the overall APL Smokin Wheels 4 Hour Offroad Endurance win in his 4wd v8 buggy having completed a total of 80 laps. Second place went to #33 Jay and Jeff Jones in their Triple J Ford v8 truck having completed 79 laps. Third overall was #55 a 4wd v8 truck driven by the team of Tetsuya and Shinya Ogihara with 78 laps completed. The rest of the field finished as follows

4th #107 Tetsuya Morimoto and Hajime Takayasu 74 laps

5th #52 Dave Matsui 74 laps

6th #190 Ikuo Hanawa 74 laps

7th #7 Yoshihiro Yuyatani and Toshio Tabata 73 laps

8th #30 Nick Cruz and Mark Sablan 70 laps

9th #91 Donavan Pitter 67 laps

10th #66 Takehiro Fujimura 65 laps

11th #19 Zachary Chang 58 laps

12th #14 Yudai Hanawa 55 laps

13th #57 Richard Makela 46 laps

14th #17 Norio Imai 39 laps

15th #99 James Sandlin and Alan Blaz 31 laps

Fifteen from out of the twenty five who began the race survived to see the checkered flag and are officially known as finishers of the 40th running of the APL Smokin Wheels 4 Hour Offroad Endurance. After a full day of rest competitors gathered at the Hilton Spa room for a night of awards and celebration. Trophies were presented along with prizes as all in attendance came together as one.

photo by Double “e” photography Rhandee Malicdem

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

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