King of the Hammers 2024 Post-Race Interview: Bullite's Kyle Stercay

King of the Hammers 2024 Post-Race Interview: Bullite's Kyle Stercay

Meet Kyle Stercay, a versatile force in the off-road racing scene hailing from North Carolina. From Pit-Crew Manager to a determined racer, his journey reflects resilience and dedication, shaped by his experience as a U.S. Army veteran. In 2020, Kyle co-founded ECC Racing alongside fellow North Carolinian Zack Pollard. Their shared commitment to excellence and the thrill of off-road competition adds a unique and dynamic flair to the racing landscape. As Kyle navigates the track, his presence embodies the spirit of a versatile competitor, making ECC Racing a name to watch in the exhilarating world of off-road racing.

This year, he raced at the 2024 King of the Hammers (KOH), Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship. He finished 35 of 41 that managed to completed the race, with a total of 138 racers. We managed to snag a post-race interview with him, and here is what he had to say.

Introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Kyle, ECC racing team. I pretty much do all the stuff that Zack [Pollard]'s too busy to handle. I do a lot of fabrication work, Zach does a lot of the design. I also race. [This year], I drove a Can-Am "Mix 3" with Bullite Wheels. #129.

How was your first time experience racing at King of the Hammers, racing and getting ready?

I've had a taste of it, just watching Zack race. I was like man, I really want to do this. I've been fortunate enough that Bullite stepped up to help create an opportunity to build two, fresh, brand-new cars. Getting ready for the race was quite a challenge. It was my first time, and there was a lot of obstacles I had to learn. I didn't get an opportunity to pre-run, so I had to drive pretty much in the dark, just go off of my GPS, and hope I made the right turn.

What were the key challenges during preparation you experienced?

Some of the biggest challenges, especially this past year, was that the weather was honestly pretty ridiculous. We pretty much had snowstorms back-to-back. Getting parts was just really hard. We were three days out from leaving to come to California, and we only had a handful of parts. Everything showed up the day before, so we just rushed and rushed to get the cars built, to get them in the trailer to get here. We were building the cars 30 minutes before putting them into the trailers to come out here.

How was the morning of the race?

Race day is always stressful. Everyone's anxious. It was very cold and very dusty with 50mph winds, just getting blasted with sand. We were sitting there freezing, just anxious to leave off that line, waiting 45 minutes to get that green flag to go. It's a surreal experience, you kind of feeling like it's an out of body experience. 

Tell us about when the race started.

Well this was my first race, and I was actually doing really well in the beginning. I started to get in my groove, and I passed probably 15 people. [But] by close-end of lap one, I started having clutching issues and the drive belts kept blowing, which was just one of those things. King of the Hammers will bite you at the least expected time, and that's what happened.

Was that the most challenging part of the race?

I'm comfortable with rocks, but the desert... there are a lot of what they call "gotches". There were 8-foot holes that are deep and it looks like you're going straight, but you just fall into the huge hole that comes out of nowhere. That's the really challenging thing is that you have to be very committed and determined to go fast enough in the desert to be competitive, and still be able to control the car when you hit those huge holes.

I know there were probably multiple cases throughout the entire race that could have cost you the race. Share some of those obstacles.

There were a lot of sections due to having "belt" problems. Every time I blew a belt, I watched 6 people pass me. And it was a really [big] letdown, but I could only go 27 mph or I'd blow another belt. So, once I did manage to get myself to the rocks, I was able to kind of persevere and try to get back my placement that I was in before I started blowing the belts. [In] every rock section, there was a really rough section, and there was a line of 6 to 8 cars. And that was the easy line. So you had everyone sitting there, waiting in line, and I had to decide to either to stay in line and wait until everyone gets through, or take the hard section that's very risky. and I took every single risky move. The risk versus the reward-- I think it did pay off, but there were a few of them that could have ended very badly.

But you finished the race. And thats not an easy thing to do.

It's very exciting and rewarding, the past six months, being able to complete it on my first go-around. A lot of people have been telling me that it's a really hard task to do, and I couldn't have done it without Zach.

What are some things that you think would help you better prepare for next year?

The big thing is that we want to have the cars done way before-hand, like completely done 2 months prior to the race, so we can do some plenty of testing and tuning, and get the cars dialed in. Like huge production pro teams. That's what they do, and thats why they're so successful. 

It's your first year running. You were very successful. There are a lot of people thinking of running. Any advice to those who just starting?

Take it easy in the desert, and be smart on the rocks. Take your time, get that finish, then chase for a podium.

Do you want to give some thanks to your team?

Well, first and foremost, I want to thank Bullite and ECC Racing. Zach of course. Peter and Derek, y'all are awesome. My wife, Holly. Pat-- he pretty much is the only reason we're here, and we're only able to race because of his help. Everyone back at home that also helped, those who turned wrenches on the car. They were also up till 4am the night before, even 30 minutes before we loaded on the trailer. They were all out there helping us.

*This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity, aiming to present a cohesive narrative while preserving the authenticity of Zack Pollard's experiences and perspective.

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