Brad Lovell Wins Dirt Sports' 2009 Rock Racer of the Year

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Traversing Mars-like terrain lined with spectators
Traversing Mars-like terrain lined with spectators
Left to our own devices we will unravel the secrets and concoct a vehicle to race over pretty much any surface, even something otherworldly, say Mars-like in appearance. Save the billions of dollars projected on a Mars rover and send Brad Lovell instead, he'll traverse that desolate rock in record time.
At the finish line of the King of Hammers race it’s Lovell, his twin three-year-old boys Adam and Byam, and Bill Kunz (left to right)
At the finish line of the King of Hammers race it’s Lovell, his twin three-year-old boys Adam and Byam, and Bill Kunz (left to right)

Lovell is one of the very best rock-crawlers on this planet, Dirt Sports Magazine crowned him '09 Rock Racer of the Year. And, in the opening event of this season, the 2010 running of King of the Hammers, Lovell picked up right where he left off last season. Lovell coaxed his number 232 AMSOIL Ranger over 135 miles of arguably the roughest off-road race ever run. At the finish, Lovell came up a mere, tough-to-make-peace-with, 28 seconds out of first place.

"Everyone that races faces challenges. For me, the hardest part is the balancing family and racing," says Lovell. "It takes a lot of time and dedication and it is easy to get completely wrapped up in it. I want things right when I get to the track and that means a lot of hours at home. Lucky for me, I have a shop at my house and my boys are getting old enough to help in the shop. The honor (Rock Racer of the Year) means more to me than winning any event. It is way bigger than that. I have always aspired to be driver of the year. Andy McMillin got that and deserves it more than I do. Winning Rock Racer of the Year surprisingly feels just as good. It is amazing to be distinguished in a group of such great people."

This is Lovell's seventh season of rock racing, three years ago he quit his day job to comment fulltime to the sport. He admits there are days he regrets that decision, but ultimately racing is far more rewarding in the end he says. "Good or bad, it is an adventure," adds Lovell.

The number 232 AMSOIL Ranger negotiating 135 of the toughest miles ever
The number 232 AMSOIL Ranger negotiating 135 of the toughest miles ever
"Nobody in my family ever raced before my brother (Roger) and I. We used to go camping as a family in the Colorado backcountry, once we were old enough, we got trucks and started modifying them for the rough terrain. Finally, we took the plunge and converted my daily driver into a competition rig. We won every event that season and never looked back. It is really important to me that future generations can access the same remote areas we did to get us to this point."

Lovell feels strongly about that last point, keeping the access to remote areas open to everyone is important to him. "The Marines are trying to acquire the valley that hosts King of the Hammers," he says. "We have watched for years as other areas have been closed. Please be responsible while in the backcountry and join the fight through the Blue Ribbon Coalition or other land use organizations."

So if all goes to plan for Lovell, what are his ultimate racing goals for the future? "That's a tough question. Right now we are building a new AMSOIL sponsored Pro-Light for the Traxxas TORC Short Course Series. I remember watching these races as a kid. I told myself I would never have a chance to race short course or Baja. I was wrong. I am really excited about having a chance to race short course and want to focus on that for the coming years. I will never leave the rocks or desert though."

"K&N was our first sponsor," explains Lovell when asked how that relationship started. "We used K&N products for years before we ever competed and all I knew is that I wanted to work with the best. We have never used anything else. Right now we are running both 14" round and conical air cleaners on our race trucks. We have also used the 14" round on the Torchmate Class 7 truck running in Baja."

The race season has already started for Lovell and the epic King of the Hammers race is already in the bag. "I started 88th and was only 28 seconds short of the win. That one is going to take a while to digest. Either way, it was a great race and adventure of a lifetime," says Lovell. "For the next couple months I will be stuck in the shop building the AMSOIL Pro-Light and the season will really take off in May. We are going to do a little bit of everything this year – dessert, rocks, short course, hill climbs, everything we can get our hands on." NASA are you listening, Lovell may well be open to that Mars exploration thing.

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