The Best in the Desert, General Tire “Vegas to Reno” event is the longest off-road race in America. Competitors are lucky just to finish the course that travels 534 miles through the tough desert terrain and twisty mountain trails of Northern Nevada. For the Trophylite field, the tough nature of the course was quickly forgotten as a battle between the lead trucks ensued at the drop of the green flag. For the second race in a row defending champions Troy and Gary Messer in the #6001 and veteran driver, PJ Jones in Curt Potts’ #6098 clashed continuously. The two teams swapped the lead back and forth for over twelve hours.
When the dust settled it was the Troy and Gary Messer over PJ Jones in a reversal of the finishing order from the previous Silver State 300 race. “What a race!” said Troy Messer, “PJ is a great competitor. We came out on top this time but it wasn’t easy. We pushed real hard causing our Trophylite to get hot so we had to back off for a while and just follow PJ. While in his dust, we went off into a ditch, tearing up the side of the body and pinching the exhaust pipe. We pulled the crushed pipe off which made it really loud in the cab. I was not wearing ear buds so I had a hard time hearing my co-driver Rodney (Honberger). PJ got by us a couple of times but we passed him back. This was our first race on the red letter, General Grabbers; they worked great. Our Fox Racing Shox worked great also, we were hitting everything hard all day long.”
PJ Jones echoed Troy’s sentiments. “We had a great battle going,” said PJ, “We were within a minute or two all day. We started two minutes back but quickly began going back and forth for the lead. We got out front but couldn’t get away. It was so competitive, we had to be perfect in the pits and make no mistakes out on the course. We gave it our all but fell off the pace at the end; I guess they owed us one after we beat them at the Silver State. I have to thank Curt (Potts) for giving me the chance to drive his car. Racing the Trophylite has been a real thrill for me.”
Brian Antle rounded out the podium in third, a great result for him having overcome several issues during the race and putting to rest a disheartening stretch of DNF’s. He drove solo the entire race with some great co-driving support from David Scaroni and Caleb Gaddis. They suffered some vapor-lock issues in the heat and had to drive 40 miles without the aid of power steering. After swapping the pump, they were charging towards the leaders, waiting to strike if anyone faltered. “We had a little bit of everything,” said Brian, “It was a race of extremes. It was hot and dusty at the start and then we were rained on in the mountains. It felt great to make it to the finish. I have to thank Mark Cowan and the crew and my sponsors; Tanimura & Antle, Toro Petroleum, NAPA, Ocean Mist Farms, Yeti Cooling, Salinas Valley Tire and Creative Revolution. We were banging doors with the Abatti team all day and then they loaned us the power steering pump we needed to finish. Hat’s off to those guys, they are a class act.” Congratulations to these top finishers. They all qualify for the Maxima Racing Oils, “Performance Auto” bonus for this race.
PJ’s inability to get away from Troy might have been due to the same issue Jim Riley and Rick L. Johnson had in the Azunia Tequila, Trophylite R8, silt in the filters. They had no choice but to stop and clean them on the course, dropping them back in the field. They got back underway but overtaking the cars that passed them lead to even more silt in the filters and more time cleaning. Their 5.04-liter Ford Coyote motor, which hasn’t skipped a beat in well over 3000 race miles, still needs air to breathe. When the filters were clear, the motor was purring thanks to the special MS-93 blend of VP Racing Fuel they were running. MS-93 is formulated for hot temperatures and higher altitudes. “The silt got the best of us this race but at least we finished,” said Jim Riley, “It was good to have some competition from the Camburg team. We’ve been working hard to build this class and their results against the rest of the field speaks well about the concept. Congratulations to them.” This was the Azunia Tequila R8’s first race on a new Currie rear axle housing which performed flawlessly. The Currie housing uses Camburg hubs and TCS axles turning a 10-inch ring gear. The extra stout rearend is just the thing needed for plowing through the deep silt.
V2R was the first race for the Stewart Raceworks built Trophylite chassis constructed for Charles Currie. Charlie and co-driver Taylor Hurst overcame some early trouble and were running smoothly when they were bitten by plain rotten luck. They noticed a faster truck coming from behind so they moved over to let them pass. Even with the KC Hilites carbon fiber pods turning night into day, a deep washout on the edge of the course was unseen until it was too late. They hit hard breaking the front suspension and causing the Trophylite to stand up on the front end. The truck behind was unable to slow in time and actually hit them in the rear housing causing damage to the rear wheel and caliper. “It’s kind of crazy,” said Charlie, “We had fiberglass stuck on the third member skidplate. I’m not blaming the other truck, we stopped so abruptly but we were done after that. All we were trying to do was get out of the way when the edge of the course just disappeared. The truck had to be dragged off the course but we are both safe and Craig (Stewart Raceworks) will have it fixed in no time. We’ll miss the next race in Parker but only because my daughter is having a baby. We might run the SCORE Baja 1000 and the BITD Henderson race. Next year we’ll be running the whole season and hopefully doing well in the points chase.”
The next race on the Trophylite schedule is the BlueWater Desert Challenge. A spectator friendly two-day event held October 13 & 14 in Parker, Arizona. Trophylite competitors will duke it out in the deep sand and twisty “python” section of the Parker course; just a stone’s throw away from the Colorado river. Don’t miss it! For more details visit www.bitd.com
Photography By Mark Kariya
The General Tire Trophylite Race Series was created to provide an affordable alternative to the high cost of racing. Drivers are pitted against each other in identical vehicles that provide the thrill of competitive offroad racing without the million dollar price tag. All Trophylite race vehicles are precisely constructed to maintain parity and use the finest quality components available. Trophylite allows you to compete in a fun, fast, race proven vehicle right out of the box. With generous sponsorship from General Tire, KC Hilites, Mastercraft Safety, Method Race Wheels, Azunia Tequila, Impact and Maxima Racing Oils you can cash in on the $50,000 in prize money that is up for grabs during the 2012 season. Visit www.trophylite.com for more information.
About General Tire
For more than 90 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs. General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late- Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, Boost Mobile FreestyleMx.com Tour, Spec Tire of Trophylite and Pro Truck. Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including Carl Renezeder, Rick D. Johnson, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell, Jason/Rich Voss, Scott Steinberger, Ed “Clyde” Stout, Marc Burnett, Kent Kroeker, Mikey Childress, Jim Riley, Carey Hart, Josh Merrell, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Jason Ellis, Robby Woods, Casey Currie, Ryan Hagy and Jeff “Ox” Kargola.
General Tire is part of Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. (www.generaltire.com). CTA, based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is a company of Germany-based Continental AG. With sales of approximately €20 billion in 2009 Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has close to 160,000 employees in 45 countries.