Jeepspeed Racers Run Blindingly Fast At Blue Water Desert Challenge

Jeepspeed Racers Run Blindingly Fast At BlueWater Desert Challenge

Parker, AZ

With Jeepspeed Championship goals in sight at the season ending Best In The Desert Blue Water Desert Challenge, the conditions left racers blinded by dust during day one’s frantic heat race. Those who had their sights on grabbing a title had to contend with bone dry, dusty conditions due to no rain for months, and a total lack of wind. Day 2 was better, but who would win the race, and how the point standings would add up, was still unclear. In the Jeepspeed Challenge Class 1700 stock, and Jeepspeed Trophy Class 4700 Open, the Parker race would determine the 2020 champions.

The conditions simply added one more challenge to the typically intense level of competition in the Jeepspeed series. Jeepspeed’s unique class structure insures every vehicle in each of its classes are similar enough to ensure parity, while still having the freedom to build your own race vehicle. Established in 2001, Jeepspeed is the longest running Spec Class in desert racing. Its affordability, sensible rules, and strong backing from supporting sponsors make it very popular with budget minded racers who crave competition. Everyone who made it to the event felt lucky to be racing. One of the big reasons why the Best in the Desert series (BITD), has been able to hold events is due to their covid protocols which are more stringent than at many of the locations where they race. Having a good plan allows cities, and counties to give the green light to racing. BITD, and the Jeepspeed series only lost one race this season due to the pandemic. It definitely had an impact, but the racing didn’t suffer. In fact, because there were at least 5 entries in 3 of the 4 classes, Jeepspeed winners in those classes received an additional 1000 dollar bonus thanks to GG Lighting. That’s in addition to the contingency support, and BITD prize money.

There were two distinct competitors at the Blue Water Desert Challenge; those who were chasing points, and those that were going all out for the win. As the last race of the season, both of those groups were looking to put their final stamp on 2020. A perfect example was in the Trophy Class 4700 Open. Rob Seubert was looking to win the championship in his first year competing in 4700. Meanwhile Jesse Archer, driving Billy Bunch’s truck, and Garett Allred were looking for the win.

“We drew the pole position for Saturday’s race, but the side by side start doesn’t guarantee a first position on the course,” says Seubert. “Luckily we were able to get the jump on Hulse (4733) and were out front for the first three of the four laps. We were still getting dust from a 7200 truck that started in front of us, but at least it was only one truck. The dust helped us hold off our fellow competitors until we got into lap traffic. The truck ahead seemed to be lost at what to do when we caught them. They came to a stop in a narrow section. We had nowhere to get around. When they realized we couldn’t get around, they started to go again. We nearly got stuck. This debacle was enough to settle the dust, and let Allred (4793) close the gap. When the course opened up, both us and the 4793 went around them and entered the next big corner side by side. Garett was on it, and I didn’t want to tangle with him so we backed off and ate allot of his dust. We had heard from our crew that Jesse (4747) had an issue, and was down. We were in a championship battle with him, not Garrett. He was really moving. I don’t think we could have hung with him if we wanted to anyhow, so we settled for a second place finish on Saturday.

With Bunch (Jesse) not finishing all 4 laps on Saturday, the championship was ours. All we had to do was finish on Sunday. We started next to Allred this time. He came out fast as always, and I again had no intentions of tangling with him. There was a touch of breeze so the dust wasn’t as bad as Saturday, but the holes on course were much worse. Garret was running faster than us by enough that his dust was out of the way pretty quickly. Hulse was on our tail from the get go; we used our dust as a nice cushion. We tried to drive the fine line between staying close enough to Allred to take advantage of any miss-fortune he may have, but not too fast to make any un-fortunate issues of our own. Jesse finally got around Hulse on the last lap, and then was on our tail. He didn’t seem to mind the dust. He let us know he was there with a love tap. We deserved it, and moved over. We passed a few lapped vehicles on that last lap. They were all clean passes except for the dirt bath we gave Mark (1785) on our way by; Sorry Mark. It was a bad spot to get passed; right at a huge sand hole that required allot of skinny pedal to avoid being stuck. In the end the persistence of Hulse paid off, he nipped us on corrected time by 12 or 13 seconds to take third, putting us in 4th for the day, but second overall for both days; good enough for the 4700 class season championship, as well as the overall Jeepspeed Grand Champion. We would have liked to see a couple wins on our path to this championship, instead of 5 second place finishes, but consistency is a key I guess. I’m very happy with our first year in the 4700 class. Dustin and I had a ton of fun running faster and smoother than previous years in the 1700 class. With rumors of even more trucks coming, this is the class to be in. The fun factor is off the charts!”

Garett Allred took the overall victory in the 4700 class with a win on Saturday, and a second place on corrected time on Sunday. “Saturday morning was dusty after the first three turns,” said Allred. “I couldn’t see the course at all for the first two laps. I made the pass on Seubert for the lead, and turned it up a bit. My co-driver kept me on course in the dust. We put about 2 minutes on Seubert at the finish, and had little race prep to do Saturday night. On day 2 we took the holeshot over Rob who started next to us and never looked back. We got the job done again, and once we had a big time gap we backed it down, and cruised over the line first.” We were talking to Garett as he checked his truck back at his shop. He discovered that his drive belt was shredded, and could have let go at any time. He had luck on his side this time.

“We had a horrible Saturday, but a great Sunday,” said Jesse Archer. “Unfortunately our Championship hopes all dwindled away after we broke a steering ram housing on the first lap of day 1. From there it was all about trying to throw some bad juju on Rob, lol. We tried to make it back to our pit with no power steering. We came over a rise into a left sweep and the truck just kept turning right. We were lucky we didn’t roll but were stuck in a bad spot. It took about 10 minutes to get pulled out. We replaced the ram, and got back on course to put another lap in. Day 2, started last, and with the dust had to be patient until lap 4. Lap 4 we hung it out, and passed Hulse in the Python. After that we went after Rob. We caught Rob at the small mountain. He didn’t want to give it up, so we had to lay some bumper on him which is always fun. We went after Allred but ran out of time. We came across the finish line with him less than 100 yards in front of us. Good times with great competition out there. Congrats to all the Class Winners!”

Skyler Gambrell was the only entrant in the 2700 class, but would have to beat the ultimate rival; the desert. “Erik Steinholt was along as my co-dog again, and we had a plan to run hard, have some fun, and try to beat the 3700’s again,” said Gambrell. “We knew we were up against a lot of dust, and the blinding sunrise that played havoc with visibility. We made great time on our first few laps, and were out front of the 3700’s. We were having a great time when midway through the 4th lap the temps started rising. I knew something was wrong; immediately the engine began to flutter and sputter. After all the heat cycles, and abuse I had put Gomer through, it finally caught up to the trusty 3.6 Pentastar. It blew up! I drove it all the way to race mile 10 by the bridge at HWY 95, but had to throw in the towel. I was bummed to DNF, but Gomer will be back with a Pentastar again, maybe with some other Mopar variant. Congrats to all the class winners and champions. The 1700, and 4700 races were exciting to watch unfold!”

In class 3700, Jerry Simonson took the win. “It was really dusty, but we ran great with no problems, and no flat tires,” said Simonson. “Saturday we had decent air all day so we could run fast. On day 2 it was a much different track. There were a lot of big holes from the Trick Trucks. We had to run back to the shop in Havasu Saturday night when we discovered a broken motor mount; it’s a common repair. We were happy to find it, and get it fixed. We had a great time; Parker is one of my favorites. I like the short races; they are not a piece of cake. I can’t wait to get back to Parker for the 425 next year. We didn’t do that much racing this year because of covid. We’re looking to do more in 2021.” Robert Thomasson was 2nd, Daryl Sigwing finished 3rd overall. Harley Coffland was 4th, and Kevin Parker 5th.

In the final Jeepspeed class 1700, Mark Kammerlohr broke out with the win. “There was no wind, no visibility, and the course was rough,” said Kammerlohr. “Our shocks were not where they should have been, but we eventually settled down after we went over the Matterhorn on Saturday. The glare from the sunrise was intense. We passed some stuck trucks, and thought we had strayed off course, but it was others who got lost. The Trick Trucks that were racing in the sportsman class caught us and passed us cleanly going about 120! We ran trouble free to finish around 4.5 minutes ahead of 2nd place Tyler Stone.”

“On Sunday we started next to Stone. We dropped in behind and followed his lights. Travis Fletcher was hauling, and he took the lead. Coming through the Python our crew radioed that we were in 3rd place, four and a half minutes behind first. What! Fletcher was flying, and I knew we had to pick up the pace too. We finally caught Stone around mile 6, and battled to get in front. Once we did, we didn’t see him again until the finish. On lap 3, I still have no view of the 1714, but I knew I had to keep pushing. 4793, Allred caught me at mile 5, and took a wide line to avoid me. I knew he was hammer down since he caught me nearly 10 miles earlier than the day before. I tried to stay at least in touch with his dust, and as I made the turn onto the long fast road heading to the wash, Jesse Archer caught me trying to catch Allred. As the dust settled, we were hitting seventy plus miles per hour. Coming into a hard left hander, I see Seubert on my right, and I slow to let him pass. He hits the rutted turn, and hammers the gas sending a wall of dirt into the cab of our Jeep; reducing visibility to zero. As I regain some sight, the Hulse machine is on my bumper. The 4700’s were on it that lap. Now with some clean air, and only a couple extra pounds of dirt in my helmet, suit, and cab, we pushed hard knowing it was our last lap. Such a great feeling knowing we made no mistakes, and it was just up to the clock to see where the chips would fall. We crossed the finish line in 2nd place; roughly 7, and a half minutes behind first. Travis, you were putting down some fast laps! Luckily we had more than 9 minutes on them from the day before. We were first place overall with trophies in hand, our first win since 2017. Thank you to Mike Barnett, and T and J Performance for giving us a well prepped Jeep. Thank you to Ken, John, Danny, and Jeff for pit support, and info sharing. And thank you to all the other Jeepspeed racers, you are a great bunch of guys to hang out with and tell big fish stories.” Scott Biehl finished 2nd overall, Tyler Stone 3rd, and Jeff Garzik 4th. Joel Miner had an unfortunate DNF.

Teams are now already preparing for 2021. Thanks to General TireKMC WheelsCurrie EnterprisesAction Sports CanopiesJasper Racing EnginesRugged RadiosTuff Stuff 4X4GG LightingKing Shocks, and T&J Performance, Jeepspeed racers enjoy strong support, and bonuses. Think you would like to give Jeepspeed racing a try? For information about the Jeepspeed racing series go to www.jeepspeed.com. There you will find additional info, deals on some attractively priced race Jeeps, Jeepspeed news, rules, forums, race results, videos and much more. Go to the Jeepspeed forum and you can read in-depth race reports from many of the Jeepspeed teams. You can even show up and learn what it takes by helping out in the pits.

Photography By: Bink Designs

About Jeepspeed
The Jeepspeed series is a competitive, cost effective series that has pitted Jeep vehicles against each other on challenging desert courses since 2001. Unlike the more expensive spec racing classes, there is no obligation to purchase your race vehicle or parts from the series organizer. You build your own vehicle the way you like as long as it fits within the rules. Jeepspeed offers the most fun and closest racing in the desert today. Jeepspeed series is supported by General TireKMC WheelsCurrie EnterprisesAction Sports CanopiesJasper Racing EnginesRugged RadiosTuff Stuff 4X4GG LightingKing Shocks, and T&J Performance.
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