While BITD has been coming out to Laughlin for years with their Laughlin US Hare Scramble moto races, and recently with the UTV World Championships, they have never brought their full field of Trick Trucks and other four wheel vehicles out here. For years SCORE ran races in Laughlin and SNORE puts on the popular Rage At The River race every December, but BITD wanted to give their racers something new to add on to their schedule. BITD even took it upon themselves to add in a few more miles of sections that haven’t been raced before to refresh the Laughlin course.
Separated in different heats and racing over two days, drivers were given 4 laps each day around a short but tough 17 mile course that continued to deteriorate lap after lap. Sections that started out flat in the morning get softer and deeper each run, and areas of whoops get bigger and sharper each time around. A heavy dose of rain on Friday primed the track for the weekend but mother nature can only do so much before high horsepower and big tires get their hands on the dirt.
Most races are marathons but races like this in Laughlin are all out sprints. You have one flat tire, you’re not winning. Lose a driveshaft that takes 5 minutes to change? You’re now racing for fun. Went into the hot pit to have your team look at your suspension because you’re hearing a weird noise? 5 trucks just went by.
Each morning started out at sunrise with the Trophylite class leading the way and after day one Todd Jackson was in the lead over Jeff Mortis by only 27 seconds. A mechanical problem on lap one would put Mortis down on time letting Edmundo Chantler get by to chase down the always fast Jackson. Chantler was always within visual distance of Jackson but each lap the gap got just a bit bigger eventually giving Jackson both the win on day two and overall by a little over a minute.
Mason Cullen was the first buggy to finish in his Class 2000 car, and Rick Randall and Skyler Gambrell had a great battle all weekend in Jeepspeed with Randall edging it out for the win.
Race 1 Winners
Class 6000 – Todd Jackson
Class 2000 – Mason Cullen
Class 3700 – Billy Bunch
Class 1700 – Rick Randall
Class 5000 – Jacob Meurer
Class 1200 – Greg Foutz
Class 4700 – Todd Richards
Class 8100 – Tim Krauss
Next race was a rematch of the UTV World Championship with all the UTV’s competing in their own heat. Saturday’s winner Marc Burnett would take the win for the weekend but it wasn’t just handed to him. Mitch Guthrie Jr. who’s racing his first full time season in BITD finished behind Burnett the day before, and today was determined to take the win away. After grabbing the holeshot on the three wide start Guthrie started slowly putting time on Burnett but on the final lap just 7 miles from the finish a fire would end their day. While Burnett took home the win for the event it was Jacob Carver who snuck in from behind to take home the win on Sunday. After lap 3 Carver was behind Burnett by just under a minute but came out on top after the final lap by 30 seconds.
Race 2 Winners
Class 1800 – Corbin Wells
Class 1900 – Justin Lambert
Class 900 – Marc Burnett
Class 2900 – Justin Brisbon
With a 10am start time Class 2400, 1000, and 7200 were up next. The question is always which class should start first, the 2400/1000 cars or 7200? After day one it was Troy Messer with the fastest time after 4 laps besting the next fastest, the 1068 of Hildebrand by a minute and 8 seconds. The kicker? Messer’s truck is really a buggy with a truck body on it so you be the judge. After setting fast time Saturday Messer would lead the pack once again on Sunday putting another 30 seconds on Hildebrand after the first lap, however Devin Rumsey in the 7294 was trying to spoil the party.
While Messer would lay down the fastest lap of the weekend on his first lap, a mechanical issue must of slowed him down as the remaining three laps were all around a minute more then his first lap. With Hildebrand dropping out on the last lap, and with Rumsey leading physically with clean air he was able to lay down three faster laps then his previous and take home the win on Sunday over Messer, but it just wasn’t enough and Troy took home the overall win for race 3 by 37 seconds.
Race 3 Winners
Class 2400 – Nick Carolan
Class 1000 – Jared Teague
Class 7200 – Troy Messer
The sounds of raw horsepower and V8 fire breathing engines left the line in the fourth race of the day with Class 1500 leading the way followed by Class 6100. After qualifying first overall on Thursday Harley Letner (sporting his new colors with YouTheory Racing) was the favorite to win with clean air in front of him, and it looked like he was well on his way gapping the field but on lap three the motor stalled giving him about 10 minutes of downtime. The mishap let Cody Parkhouse take home the win besting next fastest Sam Berri by almost two minutes. For Sunday Parkhouse would steal the holeshot and lead from green to checkered giving him the win for the weekend. Sam Berri “aka Mr. Consistent” would finish second followed by Letner, who if not for the downtime the day before very well may have took home the win, not only in Class 1500 but overall for the weekend.
The ever growing Class 6100 came out in full force for the Laughlin Desert Challenge having 25 trucks in the field in an ever growing class. A few teams like Sourapas and Gonzalez weren’t racing but that didn’t mean there was any lack of talent out on the course. Tony Smiley took the win on day one after starting 4th in the field, followed closely by Andrew Whitehead in the Camburg built YouTheory truck. If there is one thing we know about two day desert racing its that Saturday’s results don’t always dictate the podium on Sunday. While Smiley did keep his lead after lap one, second place was up for grabs. After the first lap only 37 seconds separated the next 11 trucks lead by John Rhymer. After lap 2 Rhymer was now leading on time and by the last lap had put almost a minute on Smiley. Pushing hard Rhymer would cross the finish line first by a minute and 24 seconds, but it just wasn’t enough of a gap and Smiley would take home the win for the weekend.
Race 4 Winners
Class 1500 – Cody Parkhouse
Class 6100 – Tony Smiley
Class 8000 – Chris German
The final race of the day went to the big boys, the Trick Trucks. With a field of 28 trucks stuffed into a 17 mile loop we were bound to have some heated racing. Starting up front is an advantage and Josh Daniel took his turbo charged beast to the front of the pack after qualifying first on Thursday. After the first lap though both Daniel and Apdaly Lopez were neck and neck both laying down a 15 minute and 49 second lap. All during Saturdays race both truck would never be more then 16 seconds away from each other on corrected time, but when the checkered flew on day one it was Lopez who walked away on top.
For Sunday it was still anyones game. Apdaley got the holeshot on Daniel off the start and used that clean air to lay down the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 15 minutes and 36 seconds. What makes that so impressive is that it was on day two with a beat up course with nine races on the dirt before him. After the first lap Lopez was 24 seconds ahead of Jason Voss with Daniel only another 3 seconds behind. If either were to win they would need to get ahead of Lopez physically and that would happen on lap two when Lopez suffered a flat tire, followed by a DNF on lap three via a broken underdrive (see paragraph three in this story). That gave Daniel back his lead but only for a short while as Voss would take it from him and finish first on time for Sunday. With a lead of 23 seconds it just wasn’t enough and Daniel would walk away with the overall win for the weekend.
Race 5 Winner
Trick Truck – Josh Daniel
*All results unofficial until BITD releases official results.
Photos by Jason Zindroski of HighRev Photography