Alumi Craft racers met in Phoenix, Arizona for the Lucas Oil Offroad Racing Series’ final round and the Challenge Cup “Big Money” race. The weekend started on a positive note with Dave Mason posting the fastest time in practice with Geoffrey Cooley right behind. Mike Porter was eighth fastest and Cameron Steele eleventh. Qualifying showed similar results with both Alumi Craft cars out front cutting even faster laps. Cameron Steele picked up three spots for eighth fastest bumping Mike Porter back to ninth.
On raceday, they would invert the top two putting Dave and Geoffrey back in the third and fourth starting spots. Two crafty veterans, Doug Fortin and Jerry Whelchel would start first and second. On lap one Fortin sneaked past Whelchel for the lead. Dave Mason held his spot in third and Geoffrey was bumped back to fifth when Garret George picked up two spots. Geoffrey got right back in the fight moving from fifth to third on lap three.
It was non-stop action on the track. Cameron Steele was charging, he was gaining one spot on each lap putting him fourth by lap four.
Dave Mason dropped to seventh from third on lap three and then back to fifth behind Steele on lap four. On lap six he got around Steele for fourth, Alumi Craft cars were running third through fifth. Mason and Steele would swap spots back and forth while Geoffrey took second from Whelchel on lap thirteen. The field then settled down with everyone sprinting to the finish. On the last lap a hungry Dave Mason put one over on the veteran Whelchel picking up third place.
Final results were Geoffrey second, Dave third, Cameron fifth and Mike Porter who was driving injured came in eighth.
“This season has had some high points but the overall results are not what we aimed for,” said John Cooley, “Geoffrey has been real fast but we just didn’t have the consistency it takes to win a championship. As a car builder, we do things a little differently than most teams. Everything we learn, we pass on to our other teams. We want all Alumi Craft cars running up front. Geoffrey may need to drive a little harder but he’s up to it.”
“To be competitive you have to be aggressive,” John goes on further to say, “There is a lot of bumping and rubbing going on, that’s part of racing but we lost too many points due to crash damage brought on by others. This is the first year going all the way back to the CORR series where we didn’t win the Pro Buggy championship. We’ll be back stronger than ever next season.”
With the season over, it was time for the Challenge Cup a non-points race for cash and glory. Huge car counts due to combining classes, no points implications and a pile of cash for the winners leads to an all or nothing attitude amongst many drivers. The result is typically pure carnage but nobody is forced to race it and the fans seem to love it.
Mike Porter would be fortunate to start towards the front. He was driving with broken ribs he sustained during practice on Friday. For those of you lucky enough to have never suffered a rib injury it’s difficult just to breathe without pain. To strap into a car and wrestle it around the track constantly steering, shifting and working the cutting brake must be agony. He borrowed a seat from Casey Currie that had less side bolstering but the pain was still intense.
The race lived up to expectations for action and unfortunately, big crashes. Mason and Porter had a great battle going on up front; swapping positions until Porter got past and stayed there. Mason and Deegan got together in turn three, which broke Dave’s steering; Deegan was able to continue. Geoffrey started back in 17th and was tagged from behind on the very first lap. His intake was damaged allowing unfiltered air into the engine and he suffered a flat tire. He ducked into the pits for fresh rubber but came back out in 34th, dead last in the field. He was then on a mission, charging through the field.
A huge crash involving RJ Anderson and Casey Currie took place right in front of Geoffrey. The two hit in mid-air sending both trucks tumbling. Sitting in the bunch of bottlenecked cars, he counted the seconds waiting for the slam from behind that thankfully never came. His luck would run out only a few laps later when he got squeezed between another buggy and a truck in a corner sending him into the air before coming back down. This time he was hit; multiple times after he touched down.
In the end, it was defending Unlimited Buggy Champion Mike Porter who battled a few times but eventually held off defending Pro Lite Champion Brian Deegan for the win. “I had doubts about even starting the race,” said Mike, “If I had been starting in the back I would not have started. I decided to suck it up and ignore the pain. Once the adrenaline started flowing, I was fine. The worst part was being on the track for a full hour. There were eight caution laps and two red flags.” With his win, Mike keeps the buggy winning streak alive. The buggies have won all four times they have lined up against the trucks.
Congratulations to Mike and the entire Alumi Craft team for a well-fought 2012 season!
Photography By Brian Binkert
Bink Designs – www.binkdesigns.com
About Alumi Craft
Alumi Craft is the premier racecar chassis manufacturer in the off road industry. Crafting cars from lengths of 4130 Chromoly tubing is our specialty. We offer a variety of vehicles to accommodate the professional off road racer to the recreational driver. Since 2004, Alumi Craft racers have earned countless wins and seventeen points championships; four in short course and eight in the desert. Rob MacCachren, Chuck Cheek, Cameron Steele, Luke McMillin, CJ Greaves, Matt Cullen, Darren Hardesty, Darryl Smith, Gunnar Peterson and owner John Cooley have all won championships behind the wheel of an Alumi Craft race car.
For more information on Alumi Craft Race Cars check out www.alumicraft.info
About Bink Designs
Bink Designs is a premier graphic design company located in San Diego. Since 2003, we have been committed to providing cost-effective solutions to our clients’ high-end graphic needs. Whether you want to create, maintain, or revamp your corporate identity, Bink Designs will work with you to develop a strategy that matches your goals. Bink Designs offers a number of services, including: Identity, Print Design, Vinyl Graphics, Web Design, Photography and Apparel.
For more information on Bink Designs see www.binkdesigns.com