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Spotlight on Levi Shirley

Dodge City Kansas has not been considered a hotbed of talent in off-road motorsports. Famously portrait as a town of Gunslingers and Lawmen on the silver screen Dodge City is home to a rising star in Ultra4 racing. Getting behind the wheel at only nine years old, and running at the top of the XRRA Rock Racing Podium, Levi Shirley quite possibly will make the off road community rethink its position regarding where talent is found. The college student has been racing longer than most, and does not forget the responsibility that comes with finding yourself in the public eye. Holding true to his family values, (His Dad Brian also races the Ultra4 series) last year Levi made the commitment to give away his top of the line Ultra4 car to one lucky winner in an effort to raise awareness and much needed money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There is no doubt Levi will find another in time for this years King of the Hammers. Keep an eye on this young man as he continues to make his mark on the Ultra4 series, and be a great role model for today’s youth.

How long have you been competing in Ultra 4 Racing?

This is my third year competing in Ultra 4.

How long have you been racing?

When I turned nine years old, it was my turn to get behind the wheel and try my hand at racing. Like most kids, I started out go-kart racing at the local tracks around Dodge City. At age thirteen, I moved up to miniature stock cars where I won multiple races and capped the season off by winning the overall points in 2002. In 2008, at the age of fifteen, I began first racing in the XORRA. At sixteen years of age, I was youngest driver to ever win an XORRA event. In 2010, I not only graduated from high school but also became the Colorado Hill Climb Association’s Rookie of the Year. Now, at age nineteen, I am a full time college student in Kansas and race all over the country competing in the Ultra 4 Series. Also, my racing peers nominated me as the 2011 Ultra4 “Sportsman of the Year.”

Tell us about your past experiences in the King of the Hammers and where you have finished?

In 2010 I raced my first ever King of Hammers. It was more of a  “getting my feet wet” experience because I had never raced endurance before and I did not know what to expect. Sixty miles into the race, my car lost oil pressure. This led to a rod coming apart, ending my day. 2011 was my second year running. I finished 31st!

What’s the attraction to racing of King of the Hammers for you?

For me, the attraction of racing King of the Hammers is the challenge. It is man vs. machine; you and your car have to be on your A game for a 165miles.

What’s your favorite part of the King of the Hammers?

My favorite part of KOH would be the preparation leading to the race. I work nights on end to get my car ready. There is just something about having all my closest buddies at the shop helping me prepare the car.

How do you physically and mentally prepare for this type of racing?

I was once told that what you put into something is what you will get out. To prepare physically, I workout and run every single day of the week. In my opinion, that is one advantage of being the youngest competitor on the field: I’m in shape. Half of the battle is being mentally prepared. Just getting seat time in the car and trusting the car to do what you want is huge.

Teamwork is a big part of KOH, Tell us about your team for the King of the Hammers?

Lucky Dog Racing is just a good group of people with a one goal in mind: finishing at the top.

How much does strategy play a part in KOH?

Every team has their own strategy, some roll the dice and go all out for a win others take it slow and steady and go for a win. I like to take calculated risks. 

 

 

What will it take to win the King of the Hammers in 2012?

 It takes a driver that is both mentally and physically prepared and a car that has zero problems.

How much does a car vs. a drivers ability play into winning the King of the Hammers?

A driver’s ability is everything. If you drive over your head, then you will be sitting on the side of the track. It takes a driver that knows his and his car’s ability and limits.

If you had the opportunity to participate in any race in the world, what would it be and why?

I would love to race the Dakar. I know if I keep on working hard, I will get there someday.

 Who is your racing idol and why?

My racing idol is my Dad. No one works as hard and commits himself day in and day out as he does.

  If you had an unlimited budget what would you build to compete in the King of the Hammers?

If I had an unlimited budget, I believe I would have an independent front-end car.

Do you have any advice to give someone who is aspiring to race the King of the Hammers?

Chase your dreams and go for it, but make sure you are having fun at the same time.

Can you tell us about the sponsors and people that have made it possible for you to do this?

I would like to thank my parents for everything. Without them, I would not be at the level I am at today. I would also like to thank all of my friends that help me everyday at the shop. Those guys work their butts off for me and do not ask for a thing in return. Not only would I like to thank my friends and family, I would like to give a big thanks to all of my sponsors, like Sniper Fabworks, EyeWin, Maxxis Tires, Spidertrax, TrailReady Wheels, Bulldog winch, PSC steering and many others in the industry!

The facts Levi Shirley #81 Lucky Dog Racing

Co-Driver Name: Terry Madden

Age: 19       Hometown: Dodge City, Kansas

Chassis Builder: Sniper Fabworks     Engine: 6.2L

Transmission: TH400                   T-case: Atlas II

Axles F/R: Spidertrax 9”          Lockers F/R: ARB Air Lockers

Seats: Twisted Stitch                  Shocks: Sway-away

Tires: 40” Maxxis Treps              Wheels: TrailReady Beadlocks

About the Author

Jeff Knoll is the former Event Director for the King of the Hammers event. He has raced various classes in SCORE, BITD, MORE, and MDR. Following the California 200, Knoll travelled to Washington, DC to meet with BLM officials regarding the Special Recreation Permit policies of the BLM. Knoll serves on the BLM’s Desert Advisory Sub-Committee regarding Special Recreation Permits. Knoll also drafted language for Nevada’s Senate Bill 156 in 2011 regarding action sports safety.

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