The Monster Energy Landshark Trick Truck is Back; Herbst Takes First in Class!
The Monster Energy Off Road Team kicked off the 2012 Best in the Desert series with an impressive showing at the Parker 425 in Arizona this past weekend. On the banks of the Colorado River lies a racecourse known for its sandy whoops, rocky washes, high-speed graded roads, and signature “Parker Python” which is always a crowd pleaser. In past years, rain has been a present on race day, helping the racers stay clear of the dust. This year, race conditions were ideal and it was the wind that helped clear the dust and silt from the record 227 entries in the field.
Thursday marked the beginning of the event, where trucks lined up for a practice lap then headed right back out for a qualifying lap that would decide their start position for Saturday’s race. This 5-mile loop started and ended at each end of the Parker Python. Along Shea Road, which parallels a stretch of the racecourse, spectators got to witness high-speed whoops and sandy turns. BJ Baldwin knows the importance of starting upfront on race day and was a man on mission, claiming a 2nd place spot four seconds off the lead qualifier, Rob MacCachren. Tim Herbst, driving the #19 Trophy Truck, took 8th and brother Troy Herbst in the #49 “LandShark” took 18th. Monster Energy’s Class 1 presence, Mikey Childress, started 12th on race day.
Another trademark of the Parker 425 race is the start begins right in the streets of Parker, just like in Baja. Racers headed off the line directly into the beautiful Arizona sunrise. With only Rob MacCachren ahead of him, BJ kept up and setting a good pace for the rest of the pack. Midway through the first lap however, something in the engine wiring harness malfunctioned, causing the engine to cut out intermittently. BJ pulled off to the side, causing him to fall 12 minutes behind MacCachren and falling several spots in the process. Electrical issues would continue to haunt BJ all day, but didn’t stop him from placing in the top 10. “As many demons as this truck had today with electrical issues, alternator failing, batteries failing, I think finishing third across the line is impressive, considering having had an hour of down time,” said Baldwin at the finish line. The official results bumped him down to 5th on time in Trophy Truck and 8th overall.
With BJ in and out of trouble, teammate Ryan Arciero and Troy Herbst in the #49 Trophy Truck picked up the slack for the Monster Energy Off Road Team. Ryan started out the race with an aggressive strategy – Get through the pack. “We did everything we could in that first lap to pick off as many guys as we could and get Troy the truck in a position that he could take it to the finish,” said Arciero. And they did just that. After the team switched drivers, Troy Herbst would take the checkered flag and finish 1st in class and 2nd overall. “The team has been doing a lot of homework and it’s been a long time since a Herbst as been in the winners circle and this is long overdue. There’s going to be more to come I can tell you that right now.”
Tim Herbst in the #19 was also barreling through the desert at a podium pace. After starting 8th, he made his way all the way to a couple hundred yards behind BJ and Rob Mac. With them in sight, Tim pushed harder to catch them and in doing so, blew his engine and ending their day. Jerry Welchell, in the #75 Monster Energy Camburg Trick Truck, had a similar story as his engine let go in the second lap. The overall attrition of vehicles was staggering.
Class 1 driver, Mikey Childress, had a great race day leading to the final lap, where he ran in to one issue that possibly cost in an overall win. “Flawless throughout the entire race, my vehicle ran the best it has ever,” Childress explained at the finish line. At mile marker 50 of his final lap, he was 57 seconds off the overall pace. After hearing some vibration on the fast roads, he decided to pull off and assess the situation. Turns out he had only been running on one loose lugnut and two broken studs. After robbing some studs from the other wheels and changing out the wheel, Childress nursed it in to the finish to claim 6th overall and 3rd in class.
The Monster Energy Off Road Team opened the BITD season with a bang, putting 3 racers in the overall top 10 out of a field of 227. You won’t want to miss the next race in the BITD series, the legendary Mint 400 in Las Vegas, NV over March 23rd-26th – BJ will be eager to defend his title.
Photos by Vincent Knakal of Mad Media