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2017 BITD Laughlin Desert Classic, Johnny Angal Race Report

2017 Laughlin Method Race Wheels Desert Classic

Polaris RZR Factory Racing
Johnny Angal Trick Truck #63

Here we go! Well some of you know I had some shit happen and I missed the Mint 400. I was so bummed and disappointed but yah, shit happens. The truck was close to ready for the Laughlin race, I just had a few things to do to button it up. Being a small race with only 1 pit we would only need a small crew, 1 Chase Truck, and a co-driver. My co-driver or as he likes to call himself “Nava-guess-or” ie. Navigator, we all know him by the nickname, BONER. He no longer works for me but I was pretty comfortable with him in the truck so I asked him if he still wanted to race with me, and he said he was in! To get a little deeper into that, I also asked him “Why do you still want to race with me?” His reply was classic “I just want to go fast!”, so off to Laughlin we go!

We arrive the night before qualifying and after a quick steak dinner and some desert. Or as Vance thinks it should be called, ‘cheese PIE’, the rest of the world calls it, ‘cheese CAKE’, but in our little circle it will forever be called cheese pie, I told him that’s just fucking stupid. Ok, so we register and line up with the other Trick Tricks and Class 1 Cars for our practice lap. We take off and go through 5 or so quick turns then a straight sandy run, a couple more turns and then some… bumps? jumps? No, just huge piles of dirt that have no rhythm to them and a small kicker bump here and there between them. LOL. I’m not comfortable with any of them, then we head into a hard off-camber right turn that just doesn’t seem right but that’s the way it is.

We line back up for qualifying and we are off! Now remember I am new at this racing shit. This is only the beginning of my third year and just my third race in the truck. A 6000-pound truck, with an 850-horsepower motor, 40” tires and shocks that are the size of small trees. It can be kind of overwhelming at times to say the least. I am hoping to be in the top ten… So remember those 5 or so quick turns? Yah, well I made it to number 5 before all hell broke loose. Wouldn’t yah know as I railed into corner n5 the passenger side of the truck came off the ground and next thing you know I’m driving the truck on two wheels! Oh shit! I start to turn into it as it gets closer to rolling over. I’m turning more, and more, and a little more… It isn’t helping. There is a barb wire fence on the left and the only way I’m going to get the truck to not roll over and play dead is to turn the steering wheel all the way to the left and hit the gas a little and yup, go thru that barbed wire fence. So that is exactly what I do. The truck comes back down on all four tires. Now a quick thought goes thru my head ‘Do I circle around and go back thru that missing section of barbed wire fence?’ but just then my bad angel on the other shoulder says “Hey, it would be faster to just make a new hole in the fence!” So you know, I’m in a Trick Truck right? So I go with the fast route and just take out another section of fence! I know what you are thinking and yes, I told BITD I took out the fence, and yes, I would pay for it. LOL. I will let you guys know what that fiasco cost me later, not just in time lost, LOL.

Damn, this is a long race report… We haven’t even started racing yet!

Well, we qualified in 17th place. I am kind of embarrassed. Now you have to understand I don’t consider myself some bad ass off road racer. I’m just a guy that has done alright racing off road and I sure in the hell didn’t spend all this money on a truck to ever be in 17th place. Yup, that’s right, I have NO interest in being 17th anything. Unless maybe it’s the 17th richest guy in the world. My dad reinforced this thinking for me a couple of weeks ago while we were talking about racing the Trick Truck.

Him: “Go and WIN!”
Me: “I don’t think I can win yet, I need more seat time. I am still getting used to racing the truck.”
Him: “Well, I don’t even know why you go race if you can’t win?”
Me: “But Dad, you have to understand I’m racing against the fastest off-road racers in the world. Some of them have been racing for 10, 20, 30 years!”

However, he did make a good point… I’m going racing no matter what this year.

Saturday Morning:
We line up on race day they are starting 2 at a time, side by side. We finally get up to the starting line and all the nervousness leaves my body and I settle in. Green light!!! Go, goo, ggggoooo!!!! I floor the truck and we are racing! As we get close to leaving the infield section another truck that was on the side of the course pulls out on the race course in front of me. It’s the Mills Motorsports truck, I make it out ahead of the truck I started next to but now I have this other truck ahead of me I have to deal with. What does ‘deal with’ mean? ‘Deal with’, means as I get close to him and the dust his truck is kicking up, I must slow down. At times, I can’t see where I am going. ‘Deal with’ means as I get closer to him we get blasted with sand, gravel, and rocks hitting you as big as your fist. That shit hurts, seriously, and you just deal with it. So now I’m trying to chase him down. I want to pass him as I had a $100.00 side bet with one of his guys that I would beat them. So, we take the beating and try and stay close so hopefully we can make a pass. However, due to the dust we never make the pass on this lap but eventually he makes a mistake and ‘cha-ching’, I just got some money for barbed wire fencing! We race on, passing people here and there. Some have technical problems, some have flat tires, and we finish our four 17 mile laps and cross the finish line 9th overall. But we did well so on corrected time we really finished the day in 6th place. I’m pretty excited and kind of content with 6th place for the day. I start thinking ‘Well, if one guy breaks and I’m faster than two of the others, BAM! I’m on the podium!’ I’m also playing that thru my head as well if the leader breaks and the next 4 guys crash into him, BAM! I’m on the podium! LOL. Yah, crazy shit goes thru my mind at times.

Sunday Morning:
Another 4 laps, 17 miles each, and I’m third off the line this time. We pull up and settle in waiting for the green light. BAM there it is! We are off! We beat the truck next to us off the line and we are coming up to the first wet infield corner. I hit the brakes to slow down and the rear tires lock up and we start sliding sideways thru the corner and towards the berm. I am like “Ohhh shit!!”, the truck behind us slips past us. The reason why, my good friends that are reading this, is two people told me the day before; “Hey, it looks like you need to add a little more rear brake to your truck. It will keep the truck level and help you set up better for turns.” So I did! LOL, well I guess it was a little much. After we made it thru the corner and I got the truck going in the right direction I started turning the knob back the other way so that it wouldn’t happen again. Anyhow, we are now 6th place going into the desert. Jeff Geiser is starting 30 seconds behind me so I’m keeping my eye out for him. When him and I were talking, he pretty much told me he would be passing me fast, without really saying he would be passing me fast, LOL. And yup, on the first lap, I got a few glimpses of him behind me and I did my best to make sure I spun my tires and made as much dust as possible for him to eat. About a lap and a quarter in he was getting close to me and I figured he earned it so I backed off the gas and let him pass. I started eating his dust and tried to stay as close to him as possible as I might learn some tricks on driving the truck. As luck would have it, him passing me was a huge plus for me. There is a really, rough, uphill section that a truck was broke down on and we could see the blue truck he was driving was now stopped behind the other truck. So, I stopped short of the hill and as we sat there for a second, I eyeballed a very, very, steep narrow hill right in front of us. I started backing up thinking ‘Damn, I’m going to need a big run to make it up that.’ When all the sudden I remembered that off to the right was another hill I knew I could go up that wasn’t as steep. I started to head that way when I see one of the trucks that was behind me crest the hill. Another truck that was behind him headed to the hill on a different trail, I paused for a second and he got on the gas and went ahead of me, damn it! I think Jeff might still be sitting on that hill, LOL. Anyway, on the last lap we started getting some smoke in the cab of the truck. I was thinking this isn’t going to turn out well. I throw caution to the wind and keep pushing on. About half way thru I started getting hard spots in the steering wheel and the power steering slowly left the race. We had to back out of the gas because it is really, really, really, hard to turn the steering wheel with no power steering. You are hitting rocks, ruts, and bumps and it just yanks the steering wheel right out of your hands! We raced on, just a lot slower, praying that it would make it to the finish line before the steering pump locked up and sidelined us. We made it to the finish line in 6th place and with our combined times ended up in 6th place for the weekend.
I know I have a long way to go and a lot of learning about how hard I can push the truck as well as the small tricks racers learn over time, but I am going to keep on keepin’ on and give ‘er hell!

“Are you silly? I’m still gonna send it!” – Larry Enticer

Special Thanks goes out to Polaris RZR.

Method Race Wheels, Fox Racing Shocks, Kroyer Racing Engines, BFG Tires, Howe Power Steering, K&N Filters, Wolf Designs, JM collision center, Geiser Brothers Racing, UTV INC, BITD and everybody that supports our racing dreams and my bad ass crew!

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