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TPF Racing 2017 Mint 400 Recap

J Prich

Well-Known Member
For the last two years I've had the good fortune of logging in to Race Dezert to tell the awesome story of how our Mint 400 went. Unfortunately I don't get to do that for a third time. This year marked our 4th attempt at the Mint. Over the last 4 years we've raced the truck a total of 7 times. 4 of those have been Mint 400s. After spending the last 3 1/2 years in London, UK, I retired from the Air Force on 1 January and returned back to Las Vegas.

We immediately set our sights on this years race. The truck hadn't been raced since it crossed the line first in 7100 last March. Thanks to our great partnership with Serena and SDHQ we added a few new sponsors and set our sights on trying to win our 3rd straight. It's no Justin Lofton status but wheeling a leaf sprung truck with 18" of rear travel that's probably putting less than 150hp to the ground around 200+ miles of Mint race course is no easy task so to even have the opportunity to chase a 3rd straight wins speaks volumes about how well Khris Kading built our truck and how how good the products we use perform.

We started the week off with the parade and it was a big deal to me to be able to do it with my wife and son for the first time. We were a little worried about the rules but in the end no one protested the fact that we had a 3 year old on my wife's lap (belted in!). We've done the parade a few times but this one was by far the coolest for me and we appreciate the opportunity to put our garage built truck in front of so many people.



The fine folks at Vision X asked if we'd be interested in setting up our truck for display on Thursday night and Friday at tech and in the past we've used Thursday evening for team prep but given the chance we figured our guys had enough Mint experience to allow us to skip that and take some time to enjoy the festivities. Damon Flippo got us set up in front Hogs and Heifers for the 3rd annual kick off party there and we had a great time hanging out, visiting old friends, and meeting new ones.

We took the truck over to the Vision X trailer and left it for the night and that was probably the best move we made all week. We got to registration early and thanks to the hard work of the BITD team we got through pretty quickly. Since the truck was already set up 2/3rds of the way down Fremont St we got to avoid the chaos and spent the morning showing off the truck and enjoying the show for tech. By far the best tech experience we've had...so Damon and Vision X PLEASE invite us back next year, LOL!



We got our gear set up at main and made it through a pleasantly efficient drivers meeting and were all set for race day. We got the truck to staging around 530 and were happy to see an extra truck in our class we didn't even know was entered, bringing our class total to 8. Only 3 of the 8 entries have raced in the last two years so we were pumped to see the class bringing new and old racers back to the starting line.



We took our usual rear start and lined up next to Sean Whalen who it turns out is kind of a big deal. We got by him in the infield and headed out to do work. Had a few random noises we couldn't identify but truck seemed fine so by the time we got over the bridge and back to race speed we were caught up to the 7148 truck. Jeremy was kind enough to let us by as we went up the hill and we appreciated the fact that he moved over for us...but unfortunately our little 3.4L didn't have the muscle to make the move so we had an awkward 30 second drag race...Jeremy trying to let us pass, us waving our hands and laughing about not being to. We made the turn around the solar panels and tucked in behind them and managed to get back up to them in the rough and they let us pass.

We caught 7117 shortly after in the wash and made our way up the hill. Khris said the truck felt normal but we were still hearing some occasional clunks that didn't seem familiar. On the way up we passed the 7137 pulled off the course so roughly 5 miles in we were 3rd on the road and ready to start chasing down the trucks in front of us. Having run this race a few times, we felt pretty comfortable with what our pace should be and we were looking forward to seeing if we could get the two trucks in front of us. Coming down the wash past Joshua Tree highway the clunks became more frequent. We kept the same pace but started thinking we definitely had a problem. When we hit the power line road headed towards the hard 180 at Rm 15 ish Khris had to turn the wheel half a turn right to make it go straight and we knew...

We stopped at the corner and asked a course worker to give us a visual. The course worker confirmed that our leaf springs on the passenger rear were cracked at the eye. We pressed on and ran down the powerline road at regular race pace but as soon as we turned up the rocky, rutted out uphill section after, we knew the truck wasn't going to last long so Khris backed it down and we limped from there all the way to Pit A.



We got to Pit A and started looking for familiar faces and pulled in to the Fire Guys Racing pit. Paul ran around the back and confirmed that it was broken..."bad". We didn't have a spare set so we briefly discussed who we might try to get to find one from. The only name we came up with was the 7148 truck and we didn't want to make that ask with their race still ongoing. Even if we had a spare of our own we would have had it an main pit and we would have lost a lot of time just getting it out to us. After a few more minutes we decided we didn't have a viable means to continue so sadly our quest for 3 in a row ended within the first 30 miles.

On the upside, we know the area pretty well so rather than sit and wait for the trailer to come all the way from main to get us, we hit powerline roads and cruised our way back at a comfy 15mph and got to catch a few glimpses of the racing that everyone else was doing. We limped back in to main, parked the truck in the Outlet Center parking lot, and drowned our sorrows in carne asada tacos.



Having our day end so early was a bitter pill to swallow. We felt like our truck was capable of running at the front of the pack and within the first few miles we were already in better shape than we'd expected to be. Would love to have had a chance to try to chase down those two and see what we could give them but it will have to wait for another day. In defeat, we learned some valuable lessons that will make our truck and prep better and we'll be back next year looking for a chance to right the ship. We're batting .500 at the Mint with a pair of DNFs and a pair of class wins so next year you can bet we'll be looking to pad our stats.

Huge thanks to everyone who's helped us get here...family and friends of course...BITD and Mad Media for making the Mint what it is, and all the great companies that support us: SDHQ, General Tire, Camburg, Vision X, FK Rod Ends, Deaver Suspension, Warrior Wraps, King Shocks, MCM Fab, and PCI. We're bummed about this year but now that I'm back in the US for good we'll be seeing a lot more desert time and setting our sights on the next adventure!
 
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Mark Newhan

Well-Known Member
This course was a punisher. I never made it to tech, but I was going to make it a point to say hello.

I did the last lap and a half in the 27 after a power steering issue. Probably the roughest course I've ever raced on...

Better luck next time bud.
 

J Prich

Well-Known Member
This course was a punisher. I never made it to tech, but I was going to make it a point to say hello.

I did the last lap and a half in the 27 after a power steering issue. Probably the roughest course I've ever raced on...

Better luck next time bud.
Mark, we'll catch you around sooner or later I'm sure. I don't care what you're driving/riding in, I can only imagine what the course looked and felt like by late evening. We took a trip around some stuff a week or two ago and were surprised by how beat up it was BEFORE the race so we knew it was going to be nasty. Hope to see you in Laughlin!
 

JasonHutter

Well-Known Member
Mark, I'm happy to hear you say that... That is the same thing I was telling people. I don't have as many off-road miles as you but I've been racing in the States and Mexico since 1999 and I don't remember being on anything as rough as this race in our 7231!
 

y2kbaja

Well-Known Member
I know where your old spare leafs are. They're heading to Baja next week for a prerun trip. Thanks!
Bummer about the dnf.
 

redneck10

Active Member
Mark, I'm happy to hear you say that... That is the same thing I was telling people. I don't have as many off-road miles as you but I've been racing in the States and Mexico since 1999 and I don't remember being on anything as rough as this race in our 7231!
Hey Jason! Just wanted to give our buddys at Fire Guys Racing a shout out for your help at the Mint this year. Please pass this on to Richard and the crew at Pit A. We got a finish and we appreciate your help!
 

J Prich

Well-Known Member
I know where your old spare leafs are. They're heading to Baja next week for a prerun trip. Thanks!
Bummer about the dnf.
Ha ha a bit of Murphy's Law for us there!
 
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