Winner Team Leaps to a Win in Laughlin!May 26, 2017
Laughlin, NV - The small riverside town of Laughlin has played host to hundreds of off-road races over the years and in just its 2nd year as the Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic the Best in the Desert race has yet to disappoint. It also happens to fall on Mother’s Day weekend which has made it difficult to attend in the past but this year saw 13 TrophyLite entries, the most ever for the 3rd race of the TrophyLite Race Series and this year would feature 4, 16 mile laps. The Method Wheels Mother’s Day Madness featured various prizes to be won along with CASH over the 2 days of racing. The intensity was high heading into this race as teams are chasing the points leaders and employing all options to position themselves for a run at a championship.
Championship points are not the only coveted items up for grabs and unique to this race, the winner will take home a set of 4 Method Race Wheels for Mom or the Wife’s car. 5 night stay at the Agave Hotel and Cantina for 4 Los Barriles Baja and airfare for 2 from Challenge Financial. Winner of each day would pick up a 30lb box of Dungeness Crab courtesy of Children of the Dirt / Pacific Rim Fisheries and there is always the CASH from our generous sponsors.
Winner Motorsports Group recently purchased the 2015 championship chassis formerly driven by Andrew McLeod earlier this year and with some prep and a little testing the team had a simple race plan. Get some seat time and get a finish. Day 1 would have co-driver and experienced off-road racer Barry Karakas driving and have Ryan Winner sit in the right seat to learn the course and how the truck handles in certain situations. Starting in the 8th position it wasn’t long before the Fabtech Motorsports TrophyLite began moving up positions. After just one lap they had already moved into the 4th spot physically and 1st on corrected time but the 6001 of Todd Jackson would take over the lead on lap 2 and hold on to it giving the 6068 a solid 2nd place finish in their first race in the TrophyLite Race Series. With their quick moves to the front on lap 1, Ryan picks up $250 Fast Lap Award from Gene Addison, TrophyLite Webmaster and Social Media Director. Now if Barry gets a piece of it remains to be seen.
Day 2 was Ryan’s turn and he would have the middle line of a 3 wide start between two very tough competitors, Todd Jackson and Craig Spitz. The light goes green and the trio drag race to the first turn. Ryan takes the holeshot and knows two very fast drivers are right behind him but within seconds Todd tangles with Craig putting the 6021 on its side. Ryan leaves the two behind and heads off into the desert where he would lay down some very quick laps but once again give back the lead to Jackson. Becoming comfortable with the truck the 6068 team was going to keep close to Todd and the plan was to not do anything dumb to hurt the truck, and get a finish. Toward the end of lap 3, coming into the hot pit Ryan saw the 6001 off the course and course workers were trying to take the hood off. Now in the lead physically and as the 6068 was about to leave the infield a call from the hot pit says Todd is back on course which means they had a few minutes of padding. Adrenaline running high Ryan and Barry were able to keep the rubber down and bring the Fabtech Motorsports TrophyLite to the finish just 54 seconds ahead of Todd giving them the day 2 win and the overall win by 24 seconds! Congratulations to Ryan, the Winner family and crew for earning finish and more importantly a WIN in a very competitive class.
On the behalf of Metro Honda/Acura, TrophyLite would also like to congratulate Ryan and the Winner Motorsports Group with the $500 Superior Performance award. Metro Honda/Acura is a big supporter of the TrophyLite Race Series so if you are considering the purchase of a new vehicle or ready for service on your current car or truck be sure to check out Metro Honda / Acura in Montclair or visit MetroHonda.com or MetroAcura.com.
With this win in Laughlin, Ryan also picks up an extra $1000 as part of the Safecraft Safety Equipment Triple Crown Bonus. The Safecraft Triple Crown Bonus awards $1000 to the winner of the 3 races featured in the Triple Crown, the Mint 400, Laughlin Desert Classic and Vegas to Reno. Safecraft also kicked in an additional $2000 to the TrophyLite Race Series Champion at the end of the season. TrophyLite has always understood the need for safety which is why we consistently use the brands that have kept us safe over the years. Fire suppression has always been on our minds but as technology evolves so do we. Introducing Safecraft Safety Equipment in to our SPEC program is a move toward the future and in the event of a fire gives you the chance to extinguish versus suppress a fire when needed most. The Novec 1230 protection fluid is a next-generation halon alternative designed to balance industry concerns for performance, human safety and the environment. With its low toxicity, combined with high extinguishing efficiency make the perfect fit for our SPEC racing program. Improve the safety of your race vehicle with Safecraft! Visit Safecraft.com to learn more about fire suppression technologies and how to incorporate them into your race program.
Todd Jackson driving the 6001 TrophyLite is no stranger to racing in Laughlin having raced dirt bikes for years, however this would be the 1st time racing it on 4 wheels. Mothers Day weekend racing has always been tough to attend for Todd and last year asked his co-driver Mike Slater to take the wheel, who would go on to win the weekend! But this year Mike was on a vacation of his own, Todd’s wife gave the green light to go racing and to make the weekend even better, he would have his daughter Isabella in the right seat. Missing out on the prerun Todd would take in consideration everyone’s opinions of the course and use the first lap to get a feel for how much it would be watered and just how wet it would be. “I knew it would be a quick race with little or no time to make up for even the slightest mistake”, said Todd. Day 1 starting positon would be 6th, so outside line, second group and into the first turn he landed behind the 6061 Vision Hype TrophyLite and after a couple miscalculations Todd was able to secure an inside line into a corner and make the pass. With a little clean air he eventually caught up to the flying fluorescent yellow Elite Laser truck with Tony Sato behind the wheel. “Tony has been getting his truck dialed in and showing some serious speed but we were able to squeak by on the same corner I passed Kyle on the lap prior”, Todd said. Todd went on to pass the 6012 and the 6031 Locations Racing entry of Kamren Woodward on his way to a 1st place finish for Day 1 by about 30 seconds over the 6068. With the win on day 1 Todd wins the Children of the Dirt Crab Crawl which 30lb box of Dungeness Crab from So Cal Seafood, the Guglielmo family business.
Day 2 the 6001 TL, Isabella had so much fun on the first day she was in for another. Starting in the first row, left lane which was said to be pretty sandy, Todd started next to Ryan Winner and Craig Spitz. Going into the first turn Todd was in 3rd position as Ryan and Craig had beat him to the corner then Todd saw an opportunity to make a move to the inside to get around Craig but in a split second it was gone. Todd said, “I saw some daylight and thought I could make it but the door slammed shut and I ended up taking Craig and his car for a ride putting them on their side. It was an aggressive move into the first corner and have apologized profusely to Craig for my aggressive driving.” When the two tangled the hood was torn up where it mounts to the truck which would prove to be a factor later in the race. “In p2 we chased down Winner catching him as we entered the moon bumps, I picked a line and didn’t lift until the first big hole and was able to come out the other side in p1”, said Todd. A smooth lap 2 but lap 3 featured some drama. A truck stuck on a hill in a single track section had a course workers stopping everyone while BITD attempted to retrieve the vehicle. Todd said, “I saw a line about 300 yards back and pleaded my case with course official who eventually agreed with me and allowed me to head back and go around the mess. I knew Winner would be right there and he did not disappoint as I saw him take the same line I knew he was close!” Mid-way through the 3rd lap the good began to tear more and flying up in front of them. Isabella couldn’t see anything but Todd was still able to see for now. Just before the hot pit the hood flew up in front of both of them and the 6001 ended up missing a turn and going over the berm. Nearly becoming a lawn dart, Todd got the truck stopped and BITD course workers were able to get the hood off, in what seemed to take forever. They were able to get back on course and try to run down Winner who passed them while they were stopped. Ryan had put together a great lap and ultimately ran out of track and finishing in 2nd place by just 24 seconds on corrected time. Todd said, “Winner drove a great race! Congratulations to their entire team!! Thank you to Isabella for racing with me it is a memory I will never forget!” 2nd place finish by Jackson moves him to the top of the leader board for the overall championship points by just 4 points over Jeff Mortis in the TrophyLite Race Series.
Tony Sato and the Elite Laser Cutting entry would be the 3rd truck to finish on Saturday but the 6021 had reeled him in and many others to take the 3rd spot on corrected time making Tony 4th on the day. Sunday would prove to be a solid day as well where the 6056 would finish 3rd again but this time it was also on corrected time giving them a 3rd place overall for the weekend. Tony and the 6056 truck were running at the front of the pack both days and was just 2 minutes off the pace of the 6068 for the weekend. Sato sits 4th in the points standings and well within striking distance of the championship.
The 2017, Best in the Desert, Laughlin Desert Classic was bitter sweet for Safecraft TrophyLite driver, Josh Cobb. The team has spent a great deal of time and effort getting the suspension sorted out on this 6066 truck and while huge steps were made in the right direction, the team stepped backwards in gearing and the driver train. “We got caught between gears and much further away from the end result we wanted,” said team owner Jason Cobb. “We continue to learn as we attempt to get better and figure out how to keep up with the Jones’ or in this case the Jackson’s, Winner’s and Sato’s,” he added. Josh would draw the 11th starting spot and right from the green flag, it was evident that the other teams had done their homework a little better and the young phenom would have to make up in the areas where the truck was lacking. Riding for the first time with Josh was long tie family friend, Chuck Dempsey who was able to help spot the areas where Josh could push harder and help make up the deficit. The duo would work their way towards the front of the pack moving up from 11th to 6th on Saturday but the team would be put to the challenge to try and find some more speed to help reel in the leaders who had put almost 3 minutes on the 6066 truck. The team went the other direction in gearing trying to stretch out the ratios and allow Josh the ability to pull the long washes before having to shift. The change would prove to be a good one with Cobb being able to run faster and pick up 2 more positions in the short 60 mile race. All in all it was a great weekend but the fact of the matter is that the competition is just too good to not be 100% ready when the green flag drops. Drivers like Todd Jackson and the new Winner Motorsports team will walk away from you if are not ready and walk away they did. Congratulations to those teams for winning each day and for the Winner boys that claimed the over all. It was a great exciting weekend and now time to prepare the 6066 for V2R!
For day one Craig tried to get Mom, Tonya Spitz into the truck but she had a broken foot so the team made the switch to the experienced co-pilot, Craig’s son, Jacob. Drawing the 12th position and right off of the start Craig felt like they had a great truck and battled to get the Tri-State Equipment rental TrophyLite into the 3rd spot by the end of racing on Saturday. “I liked starting in the rear, there was really no dust on the track so it was fun battling to the front”, said Craig. On day 2, Craig started in the first row and with a different co-driver, Chris Gonzales. Jacob had an opportunity to ride with Adrian “Wildman” Cenni in one of the House Rental trucks and he took it. Off the starting line with Todd Jackson and Ryan Winner the first turn got a little crowded and Craig tangled with Todd putting them on their side and even worse, to the back of the pack. Once BITD righted the truck, Craig waited a minute for the oil to settle, started it up and took off to make up for lost time. Catching several trucks and making up positions Craig’s hand bumped the fuel pump switches and shut them off. Truck now in limp mode and going about 20mph, they reset the cpu and got it going again but lost more time and a few spots as well. Pretty rough day considering how good Saturday went, Craig felt the truck was strong and had an chance to go for the win on Sunday but just couldn’t get the 6021 truck back up to the front. Craig said, ”I love coming to Laughlin to race it's a lot of fun we felt like we had a winning truck but that's just how racing goes. We'll get that win next time. I can't say thanks enough to my team for all the help and Kyle for the big tent and also the Cobbs for the margarita party and food.”
Determined to keep pushing to the finish line, The Spitz Motorsports team picks up the $500 Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger Award. In addition Craig was also awarded the Method Race Wheels Hard Charger award which is a customized Pro Eagle jack. Congratulations to Craig and the entire Spitz Motorsports crew.
The continued support of Metro Honda & Metro Acura provides TrophyLite teams with the opportunity to pick up $1000 in extra cash with the Superior Performance and the Hard Charger Awards. If you are considering the purchase of a new vehicle or you can bring in your Honda or Acura for service, be sure to check out or visit MetroHonda.com or MetroAcura.com.
Jeff Mortis, driving the 6048 TrophyLite and for this race Jeff had his wife was his co-driver! Starting in the 10th position would have a rough start to the day, at the end of lap 1 put the truck on it’s roof. After several minutes the Challenge Financial TrophyLite got back on course and have some time to make up but would finish 9th on day 1. Day 2 had Chris Wacker driving and Bret Young in the right seat. Starting the day in the 3rd row Chris and Bret began moving their way up a few spots. At the beginning of lap 3 the spare tire strap had let go after receiving a bump from the 6017. The tire was sent sailing once the truck went off of the Method Wheels jump in the infield where luckily it came to rest without incident. The 6048 would finish 5th on day 2 for a 6th position for the weekend overall.
McKnight Racing team had two goals in mind before the start of the 3rd race of the season. Keep the body in good shape and get a finish. Coming off a win in Pahrump to close out the 2016 season the team had high hopes for 2017 however a major problem occured at the Parker ‘425’ when Austin hit a huge hole at rm3 which sent the truck rolling several times. Fortunately Austin and Daniel were ok, just sore and shaken up a bit but the truck would be in need of some repairs which would cause the 6025 to miss the Mint ‘400’. Now Russ McKnight would race day 1 with his co-driver Christian Valles and would have a solid day running a steady pace with each lap being 22 minutes and finished 10th on Saturday. Russ had a good day out on course but had a problem with the power steering. It seemed to go away when he had to cut the wheel in a turn. So, after the finish of day 1, the team would replace the power steering pump and get the truck ready for Austin and Daniel on day 2. Sunday the Transwest Ford TrophyLite would keep a steady pace once again. Austin would pick up 4 positions on the day for a 6th place finish and 7th overall for the weekend.
Mark Harber picked up another race finish and also gained some valuable seat time as Mark continues to learn the truck. The BFI Racing entry just came off of a solid finish and a class win at the Ridgecrest 300 just a month prior to taking the green flag in Laughlin. Finishing in the 8th spot for the weekend, Mark would have a solid day finishing 11th on day 1 and 9th on day 2.
Nicholas Stewart driving one of our House Rental trucks shared driving duties as well. Nicholas drove on Saturday and finished day 1 in the 13th position. Day 2 would have Adrian “Wildman” Cenni behind the wheel who would push the truck up 6 spots to the 7th position and 9th overall.
Greg Bragg in the 6012 entry had a strong day of racing on Saturday and picked up a 7th place finish. Day 2 would test their patience as they would have a cooling issue which put them in the hot pit on lap 2. The down time put them to the back of the pack and still managed to pick up another finish for the Bragg Racing team and would end up 10 overall for the weekend.
Kamren Woodward and the Locations Racing entry drew the 1st starting position and held strong in the top 5/6 for the majority of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Kamren challenged the leaders and kept them honest running fast lap times consistently in the 5th position for the day but on the last lap the engine let go. We would like to thank Kamren and Ashley for joining us in the TrophyLite Race Series and we hope to see them back in another race with us soon.
For Arciero Motorsports each race is a new race, after two DNFs at Parker and the Mint they were really looking forward to the Best in the Desert, Laughlin Desert Classic. Brandon and his co-driver Tommy were looking to turn their luck around in Laughlin and day 1 started out with decent starting position. With a nice jump off the line the 6017 would make it to the turn 1st and head out into the desert. The FST Sand and Gravel entry had quickly moved their way into 2nd place and had some good battles with the 6068 through laps 1 and 2. But on lap 3 the truck began overheating putting them into limp mode and eventually shut them down. After finding a bad relay for the radiator fan, a fix was in place and a quick run to the finish line to complete day 1 but now down 15 minutes from the leaders.
“Sunday was a new race, and we decided the best plan for us was to go out, charge hard and try and win the day for team moral, the day 2 side bet and the box of Dungeness crab generously donated by Children of the Dirt and So Cal Fisheries”, said Brandon. The day started off pretty strong and the 6017 was making their way through the pack. Caught the 6048 and had a good battle going with Chris and Bret but their luck ran out when they came around a left hander that was heavily watered and caught an edge which sent them barrel rolling 2 and a half times. Once the truck was back with the rubber down, Brandon and Tommy checked out the truck, fluids were ok and beside damage to the fiberglass the well-built chassis #3 had no structural damage and the decision was to continue on. Limping their way through lap 3 and heading out on lap 4 at rm10 the truck shut down and would not re-fire. The Arciero Motorsport team is determined to find and fix these gremlins that continue to cause trouble for the team and prepare to make a run at Vegas to Reno in August.
Going into the weekend Kyle said he felt great and mentioned Louis Chamberland had once again prepared a great truck. Looking forward to a great weekend with his first time co-driver and girlfriend Avalon Scopellite. The weather was expected to warm up but shouldn’t affect them since the class goes off pretty early in the morning. Day 1 and starting 5th and with the holeshot over Jackson and McKnight the truck felt awesome heading out into the desert. “Jackson soon caught us with his endless bag of tricks (that I need to learn). We went through the whole day Saturday picking off a few people and running really strong”, said Kyle. Fighting hard for all 4 laps the Vision Hype TrophyLite entry would finish day 1 in 5th position, Kyle kept saying how proud he was of Avalon for calling out turns and keeping watch on the mirrors in the manner she did in just her first race. Day 2 put the 6061 on the starting line next to two really fast drivers, Josh Cobb and Tony Sato. Getting the holeshot once again and quickly moving up into the 3rd position but on lap 2, Kyle came into a corner too hot and along with it being over watered the truck started to slide and when it caught the berm, rolled over two times. Landing back on their wheels the hit was really hard and assessing how they were feeling and damage to the truck, Kyle felt it would be best to call it a day. The Vision Hype Motorsports team is looking forward to Vegas to Reno, the next race in the TrophyLite Race Series schedule. Feeling much more comfortable in the truck after every mile Kyle hopes to bring home a top 3 finish in August. Kyle said, ”I would like to thank Louis, Rick, Brenda Gene and the whole TrophyLite crew for making these races possible and so enjoyable for everyone involved.”
TrophyLite would like to thank everyone who has come out to race the TrophyLite Race Series and take their shot at the awesome Prize Purse available to them from our great sponsors who are a tremendous help to make this all possible.
Make sure to tune into the “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.
Don’t forget to keep up with TrophyLite! Our social media channels are constantly updated with race information, teams activities and promotions.
Facebook: @trophylite (Trophylite Race Series)
We also have a podcast you can listen to and can be found at soundcloud.com/trophylite or in iTunes 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. We will see you at Vegas to Reno!
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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
Method Race Wheels,
Challenge Financial Services,
Safecraft Safety Equipment,
Metro Honda &
Maxima Racing Oils
Tanimura & Antle
Fast Line Driving School
Southwest Boulder and Stone
Children of the Dirt,
PCI Race Radios,
K&N Filters, and
Photo Credits - MWilsonPhoto, Vision Hype, Fabtech Motorsports, Gene Addison