CODE kicked off the year with their annual Tecate Casas Geo GP and added the 1st annual Class 11 Invitational, toting some of the brightest stars of our sport and the best drivers in class 11; but the hype around this was more than some could handle. When asked, one Trophy Truck driver plainly and simply said “No friggin way. I’ll get my ass handed to me out there. I don’t want to be embarrassed.” There was much at stake for the race, far more than bragging rights. The goal aimed to settle who were the better drivers:Trophy Truck or Class 11?
The start/finish was held on the flats of the Laguna Salada. However, the rest of the course was anything but flat as the area is pure Baja and presents some of the gnarliest terrain on the planet. There were other races throughout the day, all of which provided great competition. But it wasn’t until the third race of the day that everyone gathered to watch. Over 30 class 11 cars lined up for the land rush start. Not one of these drivers were going to give an inch, and the door to door battle for the first turn set the tone for the race.
Gustavo Vildosola took the lead into the desert but a flat tire took him down a few notches. “I must have hit a rock or something around rm 4; the left rear was totally flat and the dust was really bad. But I have another chance with Martin in the second race; he’s a excellent driver. If they do this again, I’m definitely in. This is a great event.”
Larry Ragland was moving steadily through the pack from 18th to 3rd but a broken shock tower put him out. “You gotta be making decisions all the time,” said Larry. “But completely different than a Trophy Truck; at the same time, it’s lots of fun. t’s totally two different things, like baseball and football. There’s no comparing them. The decisions you have to make are happening quick. Your mind is working very hard. A good Trophy Truck driver would probably be a good Class 11 driver; but I promise you a Class 11 driver could drive a Trophy Truck. I’m so sad that we broke though.”
Bob Shepard returned to the desert for this event. “That was a lot of fun! These things are tough cars, very competitive. Everyone just goes at it 100%. I’ve always had respect for class 11, and I have even more now. These guys have my heart; they are the true off-road racers.”
Chad Ragland crossed the finish line third in class but was the first Trophy Truck driver to bring it home. “Third is third. It’s nice, but we came here to win! That first guy out there was really good. He was gone. But we had a good pace going and we diced it out with a couple of guys. It was fun. It was really nice of CODE to have us out here. Mexicali is a great place and awesome place to race. Everyone should drive one of these cars. You’ll learn a lot no matter what class you race. These guys are tough; the cars are tough. We abused this car just as much or more than a Trophy Truck. Momentum is the key in these cars. We’ve made Trophy Trucks so good now that it’s kinda made us a little lazy. You don’t get that in class 11. You can’t blow turns; you don’t have that luxury. You have to be on the edge with these cars. I’d love to come back and do this again!”
Roger Norman never returned after the first lap and was rumored to have suffered engine trouble. “I had an absolutely great time. The team I raced with were top notch great people,” said Roger. “We did plenty of testing and ran about three laps to get in some practice. We ended up having trouble right off the start with the coil and it took us a bit to figure out the problem. We got her back on track and went about seven miles until she started to blow oil all over the place and smoke really bad. We changed the motor for the second heat and all was going well until we crashed into another car in the dust; then another car hit us and that cracked the distributer cap which pretty much put us out of contention.”
But when the checker flag flew, it was a Class 11 regular who took the top spot. Gilberto “Boomper” Arreola took the honors. As Roger Norman called out in the RDC forum thread, “Who is the Greatest Desert Racer in the World.” It would have to be Boomper Arreola who had a perfect day, taking first place in both heats with a dominating performance over our brightest stars in desert racing. Boomper earned bragging rights he’ll undoubtedly carry for the rest of his career. Not many can say they took on the likes of Larry Ragland, Roger Norman, Gustavo Vildosola, Ryan Thomas, Bob Shepard, Chad Ragland, Tavo Vildosola, Jaun Carlos Lopez, Scott Steinberger, Perry McNeil in equally prepared cars and beat them all, not only once but twice in one day!
This is just another great event put on by CODE. Roger Norman stated, “Poncho and Joaquin asked me about doing this about a year ago and I thought it was a great idea from the start. CODE is the best kept secret in Baja; they put on great events and really put their hearts into it. People love it and it shows at contingency, the race and the awards. It’s the heart and soul of off-road racing.”
The next CODE is the OXXO San Felipe 200 on April 15th-17th.
Class 11 shootout results:
|1109||GILBERTO ARREOLA/DENISSE BOJORQUEZ|
|1118||MARTIN GARIBAY / GUSTAVO VILDOSOLA / EFRAIN VARGAS|
|1111||RENE RODRIGUEZ / GUSTAVO|
|1119||LOLIS / WENDY CASAREZ/JYDEN GASTELUM|
|1107||ERNESTO MARTINEZ / CHAD RAGLAND|
|1149||ALEX RIVAS/LUIVAN VOELKER|
|1147||MIGUEL MEXIA/MARIO FLORES|
|1105||HUGO AGUNDEZ / JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ / RICARDO MATUS|
|1114||GUILLERMO VALLE / TAVO VILDOSOLA|
|1158||DAVID HENDRICKSON/PERRY MCNEIL|
|1116||ELIAT CABRALES/KEVIN SANCHEZ|
|1112||ROBERTO ESCOBEDO / RYAN THOMAS|
|1102||JORGE A MARTINEZ / MARCOS MARTINEZ|
|1123||GERARDO GARIBAY /JESUS A. RODRIGEZ|
|1146||JUAN ZAMARRIPA / BOB SHEPARD|
|1148||OSCAR ACOSTA/EDUARDO L0PEZ|
|1108||CESAR FISCAL / ENRIQUE MORALES|
|1104||FEDERICO RAMIREZ / SCOTT STEINBERGER|
|1110||SERGIO GUTIERREZ / MARCO ROBLES|
|1113||GUSTAVO GARAIZAR / LARRY RAGLAND|
|1115||DANIEL REYES / ROGER NORMAN / HECTOR ORTEGA||10:21:0|