The 2014 Mint 400 certainly took shape over the past couple months. It delivered a record setting 57 Trick Trucks and was possibly the most competitive field in off-road racing history. This is why Jay Reichert and Charles Dorrance of R&D Motorsports was one of the first to embark on their journey to Las Vegas in search of their first and biggest win of their career since their partnership in 2012. Ultimately, it was a test of will, as R&D would not finish the race but their determination and perseverance showed the teams resilience to bounce back amongst an entire day of issues.
R&D’s voyage to The Mint 400 started on March 6th, where Jay Reichert drove from their compound in Austin, TX straight to Collins Motorsports in Las Vegas, NV. The next four days were spent building The War Machine from the bottom up, just in time to hop on the dyno and test the Jimco Trophy Truck that Jay calls the best they’ve ever had.
“Our truck last year was a sixty-two. This year, we came in to The Mint 400 at about a ninety-four. It was that good,” commented Reichert. “After an average finish last year, we were ready to be the one of the front runners and lead fifty six other trucks. Constructing the truck myself in Las Vegas and knowing that we have Impact inside keeping us safe gives Charles and I the confidence to go out and push the limits and after starting from the 46th position, that’s exactly what we had to do.”
Reichert was first to pilot the #26 Trophy Truck and was running strong through the dust kicked up by all the unlimited vehicles ahead of him. The lack of rainfall in the months leading up to The Mint 400 created less than ideal racing conditions that left racing from the middle and back of the pack treacherous. Thirty-five miles in to the race, the leaders had only put on three minutes on R&D before disaster struck. A double flat on the right side of the truck forced R&D to pull over and change the tire. The War Machine, mounting only one spare BFGoodrich, was forced to limp back to pit A on a powerline road and get two fresh shoes to continue on in the race. When Jay hopped back on the racecourse, he was forced by Best in the Desert to rerun the fifteen miles of course they had cut to get back to the pit.
When The War Machine was running, it was running good – really good. Passing three cars heading in to pit B across the dry lakebed, Jay reached a top speed of 141 miles per hour. At this point, he seemed to find a rhythm and was destined for a respectable finish amongst the elite class. Twenty miles before reaching main pit, a Trick Truck that had been stopped to address some issues pulled back on to course while Reichert was blistering at about ninety-five miles per hour. Reichert knew the collision was inevitable so he held on and plowed in to the back of the truck, destroying the front end of The War Machine and disengaging all the Rigid Industries LED lights.
Bruised and battered, Reichert pushed on through main pit and made it only eight miles before he lost first gear. Charles Dorrance was still yet to get behind the wheel of Trophy Truck #26 and the team decided to swap the transmission before he took over the driving for the second lap. Realizing the win and possible top ten was out of reach, Dorrance drove a clean second lap. On any given course, the BFGoodrich Tires that were below The War Machine would have withstood the punishment thrown at them. But The Mint 400, especially in the later laps, is a different beast and the team was plagued with the second double flat of the day. Again, they were forced to drive on a flat and would ultimately miss the cut off to start a fourth lap and their day was over.
Off-road racing is the most unpredictable sport on the planet. With talent getting deeper, car counts getting higher and lap times getting closer, one wrong move will put you out of the race. The 2014 General Tire Mint 400 presented by Polaris was not meant for R&D Motorsports. The team will have two and half months to get logistics dialed for the SCORE International Baja 500. The team plans to spend many weeks pre-running in Baja to put themselves in a favorable position for a solid finish.
“What we’re missing right now is a key win. We’ve brought on some key sponsors this year to receive the support we need to win races. The Mint 400 was a great test of our team and mark my words we will be ready for the Baja 500,” commented Reichert.
Adding to an already impressive list, Alcon Brakes, C&R Racing Radiators, Q Maxx and Brown and Miller Racing are on board for the 2014 season. The Mint 400 was the first test with the new sponsors. Months of testing, developments and preparation leave R&D with only one thing left to do – win the Baja 500.
R&D Motorsports would like to thank our sponsors:
About R&D Motorsports
R&D Motorsports is a premier off-road race team out of Austin, Texas. Piloting the #26 Trophy Truck, also known as “The War Machine”, the driver combination of Charles Dorrance and Jay Reichert compete in the elite SCORE-International Off-Road Racing Series and select Best in the Desert races. With only a few thousand miles on new JIMCO #26 Trophy Truck, The War Machine is a constant front-runner in the largest races in off-road racing.