As the temps fall in Parker, the competition only gets HOTTER!October 10, 2016
Parker, AZ - The BITD BlueWater Desert Challenge is notorious for ramping up the emotions within the ever competitive TrophyLite class. 16 TrophyLite Spec trucks made the trek to beautiful Parker, AZ for stop number 5 of 6 in the 2016 TrophyLite Race Series. This course, notorious for its deep and continuous sand and big holes did not disappoint yet again in the fight to the checkered flag.
The Parker race would draw teams from all over, including three teams of TrophyLite rental customers in the mix. Bobby NG, Matthew Halliday in the 6006 machine backed by Incorta, a data analytics provider. Kyle Ahrensberg and Jason Duncan in the 6061 Vision Hype Motorsports entry and Mike Zuendel of Colorado and Children of the Dirt co-driver Shon Hepler in the 6009. BlueWater would also draw some new owners into the mix for their first race. The 6073 of Mark Harber in the Harber Heating and Air, BFI Racing, Fiber Care Baths, Motion Tire, D Loza Construction, Diamond D’s Concrete Cutting and Rogers’ Truck and Equipment repair TrophyLite as well as the 6013 of John Ferrari backed by WildPowerSports.com, Dunarri, WildScooterParts.com and CoolerMods.com. Before racing began on day 1 the TrophyLite teams took over the staging area for a photo opportunity to showcase all 16 trucks lined up in a row.
Josh Cobb and Larry Schmueser II would be in the first row to take the green light on day one of racing but the Metro Honda/Acura backed 6025 of Austin McKnight starting in the second row made his way to the front and a first overall for the day. The first year TrophyLite series driver showed his speed and skill right off the start and never looked back. Keeping McKnight on the right track, veteran navigator Daniel Plaza is no stranger to the top of the daily charts for the BlueWater Desert Challenge. Unfortunately on day two, Mcknight would tip the truck onto its side in a sandy corner just before the finish of the first lap and end their hopes at a podium finish while they waited for BITD retrieval. Some issues with the oil pressure occurred after getting the truck upright so team owner Russ McKnight would make the decision to call it a day.
Day two winner, and bringing home the overall for the event was none other than series point leader Todd Jackson in the 6002 Jakes Fabworks / Movement Supply Co. TrophyLite. Todd would share co-driving duties with his oldest son Van, as well as Mike Slater for the weekend. “Van and I settled into a comfortable pace on day one knowing that there was a lot of racing still to be had. The course was really fast with very few half overs or big holes so driving in the dust was not too bad.” Jackson would finish just 46 seconds off the day one pace of McKnight.
Starting Sunday side by side with the 6025, Jackson would get the jump from the green and never look back, leading the race wire to wire and holding off a late race charge from Craig Spitz. The Spitz team would run the exact same time as Jackson on day 2 but it would be the day 1 finish time that would hold Spitz to 2nd place by 1 minute 36 seconds. For the 4th time this year, Jackson takes the win and also grabs the Metro Honda Superior Performance along with the Elite Laser Mash the Gas for Cash awards. Congratulations to Todd, Mike and the Jakes Fabworks crew. If you are considering the purchase of a new vehicle be sure to check out Metro Honda / Acura in Montclair or visit www.metrohonda.com or www.metroacura.com.
Craig Spitz would have a great turn-around weekend for the 6021 after fighting a nasty vibration since the Mint 400 in March. The Spitz Motorsports entry would start the weekend with a 5th place draw, and better their position each day. Finishing a strong 3rd Saturday, Craig and his son Jacob would spend most of the day fighting through slower traffic from other class cars in route to coming in to the finish on the heels of Jackson. Sunday, the 6021 would have a new co-driver and a fresh batch of adrenaline to try and grab the top spot for the weekend. Assuming 2nd place physically at the end of lap 1 from McKnight, Spitz would start to catch the 6002 of Jackson on laps two and three. “We managed to start seeing that orange truck, right in our crosshairs but just could not get any more speed without wrecking our truck, considering the race conditions we all went through we at Spitz Motorsports are very happy with 2nd Place for the weekend” Craig stated.
Finishing in the final spot on the podium for the two day overall was Brandon Arciero in the 6017 TrophyLite. Overcoming a bad draw of 13th position for Saturday’s start, Arciero in the FST Sand and Gravel truck would pass 9 trucks in-route to the day one finish in 4th only 3 seconds out of 3rd. After some minor repairs for Sunday’s race, the 6017 would continue its charge to the front and finishing just three and a half minutes off of Jackson’s pace for the weekend. Brandon and his navigator would fight off late race charges from Tony Sato in the Elite Laser, Currie Enterprises 6056 entry. “He really kept us honest on day 2 showing up in our rear view mirror from early on in lap 2, he must have really been pushing to get us. “ mentioned Brandon. “Arciero Motorsports would like to thank our sponsors FST Sand and Gravel, Wild-fields.com, S&L Excavation, RNM Automotive, Gibson Performance Exhaust, Metro Honda/Metro Acura, Owlabouthappy.com, Tri State pits (branch of Baja Pits), Pro Eagle Off Road, Gripclean.com and Race Fuelz.”
Finishing 4th for the weekend, Tony Sato would have a break through race in the Elite Laser, Currie Enterprises sponsored 6056. After a very rough few races, Sato showed that their TrophyLite was a contender and managed to fight through some computer issues both days to finish within 7 minutes of the overall win even after exiting the truck on Saturday due to the thought of an on-board fire at one point. Also starting deep in the field, the 6056 would take its 14th draw position and improve the weekend finish by 10 trucks! “All in all we learned a lot this race and we will fix the issues we have and be ready for the 2017 season. Congrats to Todd on the win, to Brandon and the rest of the TL teams, guys were driving hard this weekend!”
Greg Bragg in the 6012 TrophyLite and just his 2nd race in a TL rounded out the top 5 with a couple of solid days of racing. Starting 11th on day 1 Gregg would pick up a few spots to finish 8th and only 5 minutes out of a podium position. Keeping a steady pace through the course of the day 2 Greg was able to squeeze by George Mortis on time by just 11 seconds for the 5th spot overall.
Josh Cobb, coming off his win at Vegas 2 Reno just two months ago would have an eventful end to his BlueWater race on Sunday. After a 5th place finish on day one, Cobb would take his 6066 KC HiLites backed TrophyLite for a big end over end wreck just a few miles into Sunday’s event. After a few minutes to check over the truck and make sure that the occupants were ok, the 6066 would soldier on to finish the weekend in 9th place and hold onto valuable points for the year end championship. Because of Josh and his team's ability to hang tough, make repairs and get his truck across the finish line we gave him the Metro Honda Hard Charger Award.
The father/son trend followed into the 6010 with the George Mortis entry, whom had his son Parker with him Saturday. Only the second race of the year for Mortis, he would have a flawless weekend of racing. “After power steering and motor issues at The Mint we were hungry to get back to racing and it was worth all the work as the truck ran and performed great all weekend.” George would stop on the first lap of Saturday to check on fellow TrophyLite racer Larry Schmueser II in the 6081 after a quick tumble half way through the lap. This would cost George and Parker valuable track position, but it was worth it to check on one of their fellow racers. Mortis would battle through dust from a different class truck all of Sunday to finish 6th, only seconds behind 5th place Greg Bragg.
Larry Schmueser II also racing with his son in the right seat would finish 7th overall for the weekend. Larry had rolled the truck onto its lid early on in day 1 and part way through day 2 would suffer from a vibration but was still able to make it to the finish and securing valuable points to stay in the hunt for the championship.
Mike Zuendel renting the 6009 Trophylite made it look easy finishing both days in the 8th position.
First time desert racers, and TrophyLite renters – Bobby NG and Matthew Halliday were extremely ecstatic about their adventures in the 6006 TL house rental truck and couldn’t seem to get enough, even after a brief course deviation. “The goal was to take it easy like a Sunday drive. That plan went out the window when I tried driving through an endless cloud of dust just after mile 3 and got air off the only berm for miles, landing on our side in front of a crowd of spectators. Since we gave them such a good show, they returned the favor by righting the truck and off we went but at a much slower pace since we were pretty shaken up” said Bobby. The duo would swap seats for Sunday allowing Matthew to get some wheel time. “WOW. Just WOW! You guys were not kidding when you said it's so much fun and addicting. I just want to go out and race again! Being in the driver’s seat for day 2 was a lot more fun for sure. The TrophyLite rental experience is just amazing. I would never have done this without them. It's a great way to get new drivers hooked.” Stated Matthew. The 6006 was flying the Incorta banner for the weekend, a northern California based company that is in the data analytics business.
However the BWDC course did take its toll on several TrophyLites over the weekend Mark Harber had some issues on Saturday and was unable to finish. Sunday, determined to finish kept a steady pace and drove it up on the podium at the end of the day.
Brian Antle in the 6077, Tanimura and Antle Produce, PlantTape TrophyLite suffered an axle failure on Saturday and let his brother Jeff drive on Sunday to the finish.
Edmundo Chantler’s 6098 was a solid 6th place finish on Saturday and was one of 4 trucks that had finished only 20 seconds apart. Sunday, Doc ran into some issues and was unable to finish day 2.
John Ferrari driving the WildPowerSports.com entry from Denver Colorado would swap an axle in the hot pit on day 1, suffer limp mode issues for the majority of the weekend would not finish either day but gained valuable experience as a new TrophyLite owner.
FasTLine Driving School rental wrapped up with the brightest colors on course was the 6061 entry of Kyle Ahrensberg. Kyle in the Vision Hype Motorsports Trophylite is not new to off-road racing and was tossed right into the mix of a heated championship battle starting 3rd off the line with 13 trucks behind him. Kyle said “Getting in the truck was a bit nervous since the lack of race miles I have had in the past couple years. But as soon as the green flagged dropped all the nerves wen out the window”. Saturday he was looking to pre run on the 1st lap to feel the truck and the course but just after the first lap the motor let go. After getting the truck back to main pit Louis Chamberland located a engine in Anahiem and got on the road to get it while TrophyLite mechanics began the teardown and removal of the engine. By 3:30am the job was complete and with a few things to button up in the morning the Vision Hype TL would be ready to go to battle again. “The truck felt amazing and like a whole new truck from the day before. All of Sunday seemed like I was in the dust but it felt great hunting people down and making passes” said Kyle. Unfortunately transmission trouble kept the 6061 from the finish line once again. Kyle and the Vision Hype team are looking forward to another shot at the podium as we head into the final race of the season, the Pahrump 250.
The Pahrump Nugget 250 is back by popular demand. A chase race with 7 pits, a police escort to the start and a finish in the Nugget parking lot. The points championship will most likely come down to who finishes this race and in what position. A champion will be determined here and celebrated by everyone at the Azunia Tequila After Party. We hope to see you all there.
|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 - DirtFocus.com, Gene Addison