4W: Is there anyone you’d like to thank for help and support of your team win?
EM: I need to thank all of my family and teammates who support me through all of my racing endeavors. Otherwise, none of this would be possible. I also have to thank my sponsors for their continued support. Their contributions are a big part of why this program is successful:
• Dom & John Balducci, Balducci Bros. Racing
• Scott Decker, Bro King Racing for his “Prerunner”
• Eric Startzel and Tom Birster, EMS Offroad
• Thomas Kingston and Eddie Casanueva, Spidertrax Offroad
• Nate Hunt, BFGoodrich Tires
• Mark Pozzuoli, The Axle Exchange
• Will Gentile, HeavyMetalConcepts
• Wayne Israelsen, Alltech Motorsports
• Tim Schwanke, Schwanke Engines
• Vic Carroll, Advanced Adapters
• Jason Youd, PAC Racing Springs
• Scott Santucci, Metro Printing and Promotions
• Lance Gilbert, PSC Motorsports
• Jason Paule, Twisted Customs
• Zac Johnson, BTR Racing Wheels
4W: What advice do you have for drivers or beginner off-roaders looking to get into the sport of Ultra4 racing?
EM: Get out there and race locally. There are smaller races popping up all over the U.S. Learn from the smaller races, work the bugs out of your car, figure out how to finish races, and then take the plunge.
4W: What did you do to prepare for the race? Training, vehicle prep, prerunning, and so on?
EM: I like to cross-train. For cardio I cycle, swim, or run. Strength training consists of mostly upper body and core work. Being fit equates to better focus and decreased fatigue, allowing me to push harder for a longer period of time.
Each year the car undergoes a frame-off rebuild to ensure that each component is 100 percent. Everything is gone through and rebuilt or replaced. We usually begin this right after our Thanksgiving week “prerun” trip to Johnson Valley, which we use to test, tune, and do our homework for the race in February.
I use a different yet very similar car to the 4421 for prerunning duties the week leading up to the race. This allows us to keep the race car in tiptop shape for the main event while providing us the ability to prerun as much as needed. This was key in our Second Place finish at the Stampede and our victory at KOH.
4W: What can you tell us about your buggy?
EM: It is a … [see Tech Specs—4W]
4W: How long have you had the car?
EM: 31⁄2 years. This was my third time racing KOH.
4W: We understand this was a previous race car. Did you make any major changes when you first got the car?
EM: The only thing that has remained unchanged is the area between the beltline to the rocker. Otherwise, it has been replaced or upgraded. Each year the car undergoes a full frame-off teardown and rebuild before KOH. Traveling from the east to KOH, it is critical to know that each component on the vehicle is new/rebuilt and in working order.
4W: What changes to it did you make this year?
EM: We upgraded to Fox coilover and bypass shocks, added a custom toolbox (moving weight lower and farther back), lowered the spare tire mount, added a plethora of spare part mounts onboard (steering pump, lines, fittings, driveshaft, yokes, U-bolts, wheel hub, and so on), Alltech Motorsports dual intake fuel pumps, reworked steering system with improved ram mounting with additional steel clamps, retainer plates, and 9⁄16-inch studs, and a new PAC sway bar with fabricated arms.
4W: Anything you would change on the car for the future?
EM: It’s funny; the car is almost fully dialed after four years now, but I am starting to think about building a new one for next year. If I build a new car the formula will stay the same. Keep it simple. Smooth, reliable LS power built with torque in mind, 4L80 for the OD, Atlas, Spidertrax Pro series axles with 50 degrees of steering, Fox bypass and coilovers, and so on. I have a few ideas to improve upon our current car, but you will have to wait until next year to find out!
4W: Tell us about the race itself. Where did you start?
EM: We qualified fourth, which put us second off the line with previous winner Shannon Campbell. I knew that a top 10 qualifying run was important to get out in front early to avoid the dust and traffic jams. I stuck to the game plan and ran a smooth, consistent, relatively issue-free race, and it paid off.