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2018 Parker 425 Race Report (Crash Story)

Discussion in 'Desert Racing' started by Christian Sourapas, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. Christian Sourapas

    Christian Sourapas Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Hey RDC, before I get in to the details about our race so you guys can get a first hand experience on what happened, I want to thank each and every person that reached out to me and my co-dawg John Tondro. The off-road community is full of amazing people and it touched my heart knowing how much people care about the well-being of a fellow competitor.

    Without further ado, climb inside of my head while I drove the Terrible Herbst #91 Trick Truck at this year's Parker 425.

    I was super excited to start the year off at the Parker 425. I am extremely lucky to be able to team up with Troy Herbst and the rest of the Terrible Herbst team. It's truly a dream come true; I remember being a little kid idolizing Troy as he ripped the "landshark" around the desert with LR. To be able to race with him is an honor and privilege that I will forever be thankful for.

    This was my 2nd official race in a Trophy Truck. I was please to qualify 11th overall with super fast dudes ahead and behind me. Andy McMillin won the race overall the year before starting 16th (I believe) so I knew I was in a great spot to make a run for it.

    We took the green light on Saturday feeling confident and under control. We had two buggies starting ahead of us in Ray Griffith and CJ Hutchins, so the plan was to run really hard up the wash to see if we could pick them off because we knew the buggies wouldn't be as competitive in the super rough terrain. With that said, Ray and CJ wheel the hell out of those buggies so we knew it wasn't an easy task. We ran up the whole wash in CJ's dust but were unable to get to him before the high speed road next to the aqueduct. Damn. But we did see Apdaly on the side of the road, yes! 1 down, 9 more to go.

    The dust coming into midway (mile 27ish) was brutal, but at times I could see CJ's bumper when the wind decided to blow. We kept charging along thinking that when the wind was blowing to our side that we could finally get to CJ's bumper and bump him. We got within 5 seconds of him on several occasions but would get dusted out. We came in to Pit 1 right on him, but far enough away that he could run which was exactly what happened. Once we got to the graded road, we knew CJ was gone and trying to catch him on a road like that wasn't feasible or safe. Plus, it was a 425 mile race so we definitely didn't want to end it doing something dumb in the first 50 miles. Let me tell you guys, it's a night and day difference trying to catch a fast unlimited car than it is to catch a fast 6100.

    JT was on point. He is the best navigator I have ever had and he knows how to keep a young guy like me under control. He calms me down, he yells at me when I start making dumb decisions (personal preference), and he tells me I'm doing great to keep my confidence going.

    We came in to Pit 2 not only with CJ in our sights (again), but Robby Gordon as well. We also passed Ray Griffith and Dale Dondel in the pits while they were working on their cars, putting us 8th physical vehicle on the road with 6th and 7th just ahead of me. This is the part that got sketchy...

    As anybody who has ever raced Parker knows, after Pit 2 is WIDE OPEN!!! I'm talking 110+ roads. With Robby and CJ right in front of us, we would have to back off to make sure we didn't get off the road and hit a rock or bush. But as soon as the dust clears for a brief second, it's hammer down until you get dusted out again. We were almost to the end of the high speed road; JT called out on the radio "Race 91 Mile 63, all good" And then suddenly, we weren't "all good".

    The dust cleared for a brief second so our Patton Racing Engine was putting stupid power to the ground. I saw 112 mph on the GPS and was trying to figure out how to make the truck go even faster. In the corner of my eye I saw a calf and two cows DIRECTLY NEXT TO THE COURSE. In my head I was thinking, "Oh no, don't do it, don't do it, DON'T DO IT!!! But then, they did it... the calf ran directly onto the course with the mama (or dad for you gender freaks) chasing after it. Before I could even react, we smashing into both of them sending us into a shock and veering the truck to the left. Blood and guts everywhere. I knew it was gonna be a day-ender, but as I was thinking that the truck caught and we started tumbling.

    As we were crashing, all I was thinking about was when this was gonna stop. We were in the air for a while, and I was praying to god that this wasn't it. I was afraid that JT or I wasn't going to make it. It was scary because I never had thought I had a chance of dying until this moment. It was my first major crash and I didn't know what to do. Do I relax and take it or do I tense up? All of these thoughts were going through my head. I just wanted it to stop. It seemed like we were crashing forever.

    We finally stoped crashing and my immediate instinct was to get the hell out of the truck, after asking JT if he was ok (which he was). As I was climbing out, I realized were were in the MIDDLE of the course. I started panicking. 6000 lb trucks were coming at us full tilt. I ran as far as I could up the road to try and slow down the cars coming at us.

    This next part almost put me into tears. The first car to me was my brother, Brett, in the #88 Coors Light Truck. He came in hot but slowed down significantly to see if I was OK. It had to of been hard to see your twin brother wadded up, full yard sale, but I gave him a thumbs up and he gave me one back and he kept going. He put his race on the line to make sure JT and I were alright and that touched me. If I was seriously hurt, there is no doubt in my mind he would have stopped and would have been there for me. It was a special thing for him to do.

    After Brett went on his way, I knew the dust was going to be a huge issue. The Herbst Helicopter landed (after flying sideways over Brett to warn him) and they immediately helped on flagging cars down. We put a fire extinguisher in the middle of the course and used our red triangles. We pushed the alert on the Racing Trax but had no idea if it was going to work or not.

    A lot of cars made it safely through, except for the #63 of Johnny Angal. If it weren't for his quick reflexes and superb driving abilities, he would have directly T-Boned (no pun intended) the cab of the 91. He did nail the read of the truck, breaking the right front of his truck, but luckily they weren't harmed.

    JT and I are extremely fortunate to walk away from this one. God was watching over us and allowed us to escape this accident unharmed. I want to thank Troy Herbst and the whole team for giving me perfect truck to wheel around and I feel horrible that the race went this way. I also want to thank IMPACT Safety, Cobra Seats, and Herbst Smith Fabrication for creating a product that can withstand the force of a 100+ mph crash. I might not be here to tell this story if it weren't for you guys. I also want to thank the Helicopter Pilot Nick Tsunis for flying us to the hospital and Chris Kemper for giving me your phone so I could call my Mom to tell her that I was OK.

    We will be back at the Mint ready for war again. I'm so blessed to be able to drive Trophy Trucks and a bad day in the desert is still better than any day at school (or work). Thanks to the whole off-road family for making sure we were OK. I love this sport very much and I'm thankful to be alive!

    PS If anybody wants steak or hamburgers come by the Herbst pit at the Mint!!!

     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
    (+36) 36 people like this.
  2. DanMcMillin

    DanMcMillin Crane Motorsports

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Nice T-Bone!

    Glad you guys are okay. That's most important. I was scanning way up ahead on Lap 2 after we heard what happened.
     
  3. JON-E

    JON-E Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Location:
    Gilbert, AZ
    Great write Christian. Very scary moment. Glad you and JT are ok.


    Sent from my iPhone using race-deZert
     
  4. Crusty Shellback

    Crusty Shellback Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2017
    Location:
    SoCal
    Glad you guys were able to walk away. Scary stuff.
    I remember pitting you and your brother at several BITD races a few years back when you guys were running 6100. Glad to see the move up and you're still up on your game.
     
  5. Fourstroker

    Fourstroker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Location:
    Garden Grove, CA
    Glad you guys were able to walk away. Scary stuff
     
  6. Steve_Sourapas

    Steve_Sourapas Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2001
    Location:
    Rancho Santa Fe,Calif
    Herbst-Smith Fab built one strong truck as both of them walked away with some minor bumps and bruises.
     
    (+6) 6 people like this.
  7. UTVinc

    UTVinc Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Location:
    United States
    So glad you guys are ok !! great write up
     
  8. Bajabug222

    Bajabug222 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    Location:
    Sahuarita, Az
    Glad you guys are ok.
     
  9. Bro_Gill

    Bro_Gill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Big Bear, CA
    May not matter now, but they always taught us in fire truk driving school NOT to turn the wheel if an animal runs out in front of you. Kind of counter intuitive to the human response, but I have had friends and neighbors who have been severely injured because they have swerved for animals like squirrels or coyotes and, up here in the mountains, have taken the long drive off the short mountain side. Glad you guys are OK and the truck will make it back out. Sorry for the cow, but won't pass judgement on anyone hitting it in that instance.
     
    (-2) 3 people like and 5 people dislike this.
  10. Wendell #527

    Wendell #527 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Location:
    Oak View, CA
    Great write up, thanks for sharing. Not yet in my race car, but I've wadded up my rock crawler like that. I remember thinking the same thing---when will this end. Glad you're ok.
     
  11. 5racer

    5racer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    san jacinto calif
    glad all walked out and back to families but the poor prep guys that have to work on truck """yukkkk""" better buy them a good steak dinner afterwards no pun
     
  12. Dave_G

    Dave_G Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2001
    Location:
    Highland Ca.
    Glad you guys didn't get hurt!

    Good for us as it looks like it's going to need some parts. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Honda48X

    Honda48X Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2014
    Location:
    Washington
    Hard to do but the best thing to do is keep the pedal down and wheel straight and then hope like hell you pulled it off.
     
  14. Steve_Sourapas

    Steve_Sourapas Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2001
    Location:
    Rancho Santa Fe,Calif
    How are you going to pull it off going over 100 MPH and hitting a very large animal ( never seen a fire truck go 112 MPH ). Most of you only see the one cow that hit the center of the truck. There also was another much larger cow that if he hadn't of turned slightly left he would had hit straight on. He hit the larger animal with the right front of the truck and took out the steering right there and was along for the ride after that. Their was no best thing as the #91 and the cows were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. I've raced in Parker for almost 40 years and I can't ever remember seeing a cow out there before.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
    (+7) 7 people like this.
  15. Bro_Gill

    Bro_Gill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Big Bear, CA
    We see them just about every year at Graham Wells pit. And you would be surprised how fast fire trucks can go. But beyond that, swerving may save the animal, but kill you. You have a better chance continuing on the path you are headed in rather than leaving the developed route and booney crashing. I understand it's a natural instinct, but that is why you must overcome it. As I said, I know plenty of people who have literally driven off of cliffs trying not to hit (insert your favorite animal here) and end up really REALLY hurt. The safest move is to drive in your desired path if the animal wasn't there and brake as controlled as possible before, during, and after the hit.
     
    (-1) 1 person dislikes this.
  16. AZracefan

    AZracefan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Parker. AZ
    swerve or go straight? final outcome they both walked away, its unfortunate for the cow though. At that speed, I doubt many would have enough time to analyze the threat and make an appropriate decision.

    I am familiar with the staying straight strategy, but I wonder if the factor changes with having no windshield? the open area for any debris to easily enter the cab, we easily see the blood/guts splatter in the cab.
     
    (+1) 1 person likes this.
  17. Kyle D

    Kyle D Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2015
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    So I think it’s very inconsiderate that this post has turned into “fire trucks are fast too” when there’s a very real chance that both gentlemen in the truck could’ve lost the big race at that moment. Yes everyone understands that straight and head on into an animal is the safest method to follow out the extremely dangerous task of hitting an animal. I’ve watched the video and while I appreciate the insight I don’t see the need to bring up the straight on point. He didn’t turn, he hit the brakes causing the back of the truck to slide as it appears to me. I wonder why people don’t post more race reports on RDC......one of the multiple choice answers is they don’t want to be picked apart by the crowd of vultures just waiting for someone to chime in on what could’ve been done differently to save the day. Every post over the last few months has turned into a bashfest by a few members in particular.

    Christian,

    I’m glad you’re ok. I’ve never hit anything at 112 MPH so I have no advice for you but I’ve watched you and your brother for as long as you’ve been racing in BITD and both of you are always a pleasure to watch race. You both have your heads on straight which can’t be said about too many other young men that are piloting the beasts that you guys are. Keep your head up and I personally look forward to seeing you on race course again.
     
    (+10) 10 people like this.
  18. BigBlue&Goldie

    BigBlue&Goldie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2013
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    It's easy to be critical from a keyboard when looking at dashcam footage, but at the end of the day they all survived in good shape, so it seems to me Christian did the right thing.

    Bro_Gill, how fast did you go down that road this year?
     
    (+1) 1 person likes this.
  19. Christian Sourapas

    Christian Sourapas Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    You hit the nail on the head on the analyzation part. I've been getting beat up left and right on the internet for "swerving" and trying to avoid the cows. Anybody that has driven a vehicle on dirt or snow knows that slamming on the brakes is going to naturally pitch the car. Kudos to you for understanding that. There are two reasons why I didn't stay on the throttle like some people have suggested I do. 1: Natural instinct told me that if I'm going to hit something (in this case over 2k pounds of organic beef), slowing down will lower the force of impact. 2: I was horrified that a big chunk of the cow would rip off, come into the cab, knock me or JT in the head and kill us both. Indy car drivers have died from just debris hitting them, so I was super worried about that. The impact of the cows sent me into the bushes. Trust me, if I had it my way, I would have never exited the racecourse so abruptly. I appreciate ALL the comments about the crash, it shows the concern people have for me and JT and it also makes me feel blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity and privilege to drive a Trophy Truck. The vast majority of people commenting have no idea what it is like to drive a Trophy Truck at speeds over 100 mph and truly understand how they work. I feel extremely lucky to be able to have this opportunity thanks to my hardworking Dad who provides for me and my family and of course the whole Terrible Herbst Team.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
    (+18) 18 people like this.
  20. Bro_Gill

    Bro_Gill Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Big Bear, CA
    Listen up, I did not attack anyone for swerving. I pointed that what is taught is to remain on your line, get off the gas, and try to slow in a controlled manner. I taught Defensive Driving and vehicle control for the State of California for Emergency Vehicle Operations for many years, This isn't just something pulled out of my butt. CHP teaches the same thing. Think they don't go over 112 mph? You leave the roadway, you have other issues to deal with. Cow may have come into the cab? What if you hit a big cactus? Would it also come into the cab and possible injured or killed you? Tree branches? Rocks? The trail is trail because it is the safest path out there. Getting off of it is dangerous. I have sat in the simulator many times having every possible crazy driving incident thrown at me to see how I react and what the outcomes may be when they go bad. The safest reaction is to stay on course and reduce speed as much as possible without losing control of the vehicle. Just the facts. It is absolutely normal to try and swerve from your human reaction, it just isn't the safest act. You have to t each yourself to overcome the normal reaction sometimes to make the right reaction. That is what I was pointing out. I was not saying the driver was x y z, you guys are the ones who are jumping to that conclusion based on your perception. I drive in snow and ice conditions on a regular basis for 5-6 months every year and I have driven the roads in the area of the race course at anywhere from 65-100+ mph many times over the years. Wikieup to Yucca and Prescott to Seligman are a couple of my go to high speed favorites in Az.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
    (-3) 3 people dislike this.
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