Rock crawling national championship to be held at Chokecherry Canyon

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The best drivers of off-road vehicles in the country will converge in Farmington when the World Extreme Rock Crawling Grand Nationals event takes place next month at Chokecherry Canyon.

The final event of the 2021 season, which has had stops in locations as far away as Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as neighboring states like Colorado and Utah, will happen over a two-day timeframe beginning Sat., Sept. 11 at the Glade Run Recreation Area.

"Chokecherry is an iconic competition site, the Brown Springs area has pretty good historical significance to the rock crawling community," said Rich Klein, President of W.E. ROCK Events. "It's steep, it rarely changes and it's very exciting terrain for the drivers."

The grand nationals event marks a return to Farmington of the W.E. Rock series, which last held events here in 2019 as well as 2016. Prior to that, the last time the series traveled into the Four Corners was in 2009.

Buggy navigates a steep obstacle while spotters and participants look on during a rock crawling event at Chokecherry Canyon in 2020.

"As a promoter of the event in 2009, I felt there was a lack of support (from community officials) for the event in 2009 which created a financial hardship," Klein said. "But when city and county officials reached out for us to come back prior to 2016, the decision was easy for us to come back and they've been outstanding to all of us since that time."

Rock crawling is a form of off-road driving that involves maneuvering a vehicle over harsh terrains such as boulders. W.E. Rock has hosted events across the country since series have existed since 2001.

The competition during the weekend will consist of more than 50 drivers being asked to complete four courses on Saturday and four courses on Sunday. The best professionals will move on to the Shootout course on Sunday afternoon to determine the winners.

Each team consists of three parts, the car, the driver and the spotter. Each team uses the best strategies for them to achieve the best possible score.

"The top teams from the early rounds will be competing on Sunday over the most difficult course they'll see all weekend," Klein said. 

Caleb Good takes a roll during a rock crawling event at Chokecherry Canyon in September, 2019

Drivers of all ages will be participating in the grand nationals, ranging from experienced veteran drivers to 8-year-old Landon Brown.

"We have age groups for all our drivers, and (Landon) has been driving in the youth category since he was 5-years-old," Klein said.

Along with the anticipated 50-60 vehicles scheduled to be driven in the grand nationals, come some of the nation's top drivers who have earned their way into the event through regional competitions earlier this spring and summer.

The western region champion coming into the weekend is Dave Wong out of St. George, Utah. Joining Wong atop the western leaders is Jesse Haines from Dayton, Nevada. Haines won the nationals last year when they were held in Cedar City, Utah.

Representing the top of the class from the east region are 16-year-old Caleb Good, who will be spotted by his father Jake, hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, as well as Cam Beasley from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Competition begins each day at 10 a.m., with ticket prices for the event ranging from $5 day passes for kids to $25 for adult two-day passes. Information can be found online at werocklive.com.    

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680