Showdown at Sunrise! Todd Jackson and Company
take the BITD Laughlin Desert Classic win! May 8, 2016
Laughlin, NV - New to 2016, the inaugural BITD Laughlin Desert Classic was a hit with all of the TrophyLite teams that chose to make the trek to the Colorado River based tourist destination. A fast 17 mile course was laid out to test man and machine against Mother Nature and fierce competition. The skies would open up Friday evening, creating a virtually dust free day one of racing Saturday. A flawless team of Jackson in 2016 season was to butt heads with series regulars such as Ed “Doc” Chantler, Jeff Mortis, Brandon Arciero, John Clark, Craig Spitz, Russ McKnight, Joshua Cobb and Larry Schmueser.
To describe Todd Jackson’s 2016 season as perfect so far would be accurate to the “t”. Now with three races completed, and only three to go Jackson has a demanding point lead heading into Vegas to Reno. Just one small bump in the road – Todd Jackson’s navigator, Mike Slater, was behind the wheel of the dominate 6002 machine this weekend in Laughlin! Due to scheduling conflicts, Jackson had his veteran navigator take the reins of the Jakes Fabworks prepared TrophyLite. “As the season progressed and we pulled off two wins in a row I got pretty nervous about driving the truck in Laughlin. I have been Co-Driving for Todd for a few years and I appreciate his talents as a driver and I was worried about not being able to fill in.” Stated Slater. The weekend saw the interim driver Slater and navigator Chris Haynes fight from a 5th place starting spot through the field to finish physically first across the line after a total of eight fast laps in Laughlin. The 6002 ran flawless all weekend and would edge out some of the best drivers that the TrophyLite series had to offer. For the third race in a row, the Jackson takes home the Metro Honda / Metro Acura Superior Performance Award. Along with the Performance award, Jackson also brings home yet another Elite Laser $1,000 Mash the Gas for Cash Award.
Laughlin also saw a new award from CDVideoWeb, supporting the driver with the roughest bit of luck. John Clark in the 6069 – C2 Tactical TrophyLite brings home the “Ohh so close” award for $500 worth of good luck. After making the long trek from Texas, Clark and crew would have a great run Saturday, leading the majority of the day and finishing in the top 4 on time. Sunday would hold a different fate for the 6069, and just a short 5 miles into day 2 saw the team have a terminal setback with an electrical issue. The newcomer Clark has showed that he has the speed and skill to run at the front of the pack, and sits within striking distance for the 2016 points.
The KC HiLites entry of Josh and Jason Cobb shared driving duties as father and son in the 6066 TrophyLite. Josh had decided that Saturday was a good day to learn from Dad, while enlisting the help of Mom as his navigator for Sunday. The Cobb team tried to play tire strategy, looking for an edge on the close competition that the TL series has to offer. With the loose sandy terrain of Laughlin, the General Grabber AT2 tires worked great off of the start but started to lose forward bite as the course became abused. Switching to the General Grabber Mud Terrain tire for Sunday, Josh would charge through the field and come just short of missing the podium with his mom aboard for the ride on Mother’s Day.
Brandon Arciero in the 6017 FST Sand and Gravel, S&L Excavation, RNM Automotive, Pro Eagle Off-Road Jacks, Owlabouthappy.com, SRP and Trinity equipment truck also saw a tough weekend of racing. After a fuel delivery issue kept the truck from running at its potential Saturday, team Co-owner / driver Tommy Payne would give day 2 his best to make up some time on the field. After starting 8th, Tommy would finish the day well and bring home a 5th place finish for the weekend.
Another father and Son team Austin and Russ McKnight in the 6025 would fall just short of Arciero’s time for a top 5 finish for the Laughlin weekend. The McKnight team would have a clean run all weekend after a rough bit of testing from the Mint. After struggling with fuel delivery issues from the March race, the 6025 went and did some homework to get their TrophyLite back towards a podium finish. Gaining speed every race, the McKnight team will be a force to reckon with soon enough!
After a great first day, the team of Craig Spitz in the 6021 truck had a vibration that had continued over from the Mint 400. After close inspection, they had noticed a transmission failure and needed a replacement. After several hours of swapping transmissions Saturday Afternoon, the team was ready for Sunday’s action. After the start of Sunday, a vibration had seemed to make its way back into the truck and the team decided to change a driveshaft mid-race. Finishing 7th, the Spitz team receives a Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger award for showing their grit on getting to the finish line no matter what it took!
The 6061 Fast Line Driving School rental entry of Jeff Mortis and Chris Philo had a great day one of racing. Fighting from a 8th place starting position, the Challenge Motorsports – Fast Line Driving School entry charged all the way to second place Saturday morning. Sunday would hold a different fate for the 6061, with electrical gremlins slowing the pace for day two driver Chris Philo. “Sunday morning came around and although I didn't show it, I was extremely nervous. Laughlin gets very rutted and rolling a vehicle there is very easy to do. It's also a small 17 mile loop so vehicle contact is very common due to all the traffic in the heat.” Philo was a first time TrophyLite driver and impressed several of the series regulars with his speed in the rough areas of the course. “Even though the race did not go well due to the electrical issues. The rest of the truck was amazing, with the Fox shocks soaking up the whoops extremely well, BFG tires having great grip and no flats, and great design of the truck making it very stable and safe to drive”. The 6061 would finish 8th after all was said and done.
The ever fast “Doc” Chantler in the 6098 PJ’s Performance – Southwest Title loans truck would keep the top finisher in check all weekend. Starting on the row behind the eventual winner 6002, Chantler would press for 8 laps trying to force a mistake out of the interim driver Mike Slater. Any slip in the 6002, and the Chantler entry was ready to strike. Finishing just 35 seconds back on day one, and roughly a minute back due to lap traffic on day two “Doc” would secure second place in points for the overall season thus far.
Rounding out the top three saw the entry of Larry Schmueser bring home his first podium finish in the 6081 Schmeser & Associates / Two L Leasing backed truck. Also having an interim driving team, the Colorado based team kept pace with the leaders and finished just a mere 5 minutes off the pace of the eventual winners. Schmueser’s truck would complete all 8 laps with no issues, and big smiles at the finish line.
Next up for the TrophyLite series, drivers will tackle the special two-day BITD Vegas 2 Reno event starting just north of Las Vegas, NV. For the first time in just over a decade, the Nevada desert will play host to a multi-day format for the longest desert race in the U.S. Covering near 600 miles of the desert terrain, the TrophyLite teams will be ready for their shot at grabbing the top spot atop the podium come August.
|Larry Schmueser II
About TrophyLite – TrophyLite.com
The 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 KC HiLites, Metro Honda, Metro Acura, Currie Enterprises, Mastercraft Safety, Impact, Method Race Wheels, Azunia Tequila, Maxima Racing Oils, Fox, Children of the Dirt, K&N Filters, MagnaFlow, PCI Race Radios, Tanimura & Antle and Kreed Sunglasses.
Make sure to tune into the KC HiLites “TrophyLite Throwdown” Podcast – Available on SoundCloud and in the iTunes store search TL Throwdown. An easy way to gain insight to the race series and the teams involved who continue to make this so much fun.
Photo Credits - MWilsonPhoto, Dirt Focus.com