Jackson Holds Tough to take the Win and the Points LeadNovember 20, 2017

Tonopah, NV – Well known for its silver mining in the early 1900’s the little town of Tonopah has played host too many off-road events including the start of the second day of racing in the 2016 Vegas to Reno event. This year, the Tonopah ‘250’ will replace the popular BlueWater Desert Challenge and eight TrophyLite teams will make the trip. 5 teams still in the hunt and competing for a championship which features Jeff Mortis with the points lead by 7 over last year’s class champion, Todd Jackson. Josh Cobb, Greg Bragg and Brandon Arciero are all within striking distance to win it all.

Contingency was windy and cold and with that being said, TL teams got their trucks through tech quickly and back to the pits. Bikes and quads would start at 6am which brought sub-freezing temps. Luckily, TL teams wouldn’t be off the line until around 12:30pm and starting first would be the GB Racing entry of Greg Bragg. Following the 6012 off of the line was the Spitfire Racing entry with Brad Pace behind the wheel and Eric Sheetz navigating. 3rd truck starting was the FST Sand and Gravel TrophyLite of Brandon Arciero followed by Josh Cobb’s Safecraft Safety 6066. Points leader Jeff Mortis will start the Challenge Financial entry in 5th with the 2016 Champ (and second in points) Todd Jackson starting in 6th. Ryan Winner’s Fabtech Motorsports entry starting 7th and our house rental team starting 8th featuring 5 drivers Jim Edwards, Dave Smith, Kai Goddard, Slade Stewart and Chris Quintana all of which are road racers looking of an off-road desert adventure.

The 6001 was coming out of the 6th spot and knew he had to keep the points leader close and not throw away the race at the same time. Early in the race Todd and Mike would pick up positions due to some mechanical issues experienced by some of the teams. By pit 1 the 6001 would find themselves physically in 3rd and picking up time on the 6074 and 6012. At about rm160 they find the 6012 stopped with their mechanical issue and with about 80 miles left to go Todd made his move in the silt to get around Brad Pace in the 6074 to gain the lead. A lead that the team would keep for their 2nd win of the season and a 2 point lead over the 6048 team heading into the final race of the season.

On the behalf of Metro Honda/Acura, TrophyLite would also like to congratulate Todd and the entire team 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.

Triple Crown

The Safecraft Triple Crown award was set to be handed out after Vegas to Reno but there was a tie in the points total between Jeff Mortis and Todd Jackson. It was then agreed upon to take it to Tonopah to break the tie. As a result Todd Jackson will pick up and extra $2000 as the overall winner of the Safecraft Safety Triple Crown Award. The Safecraft Triple Crown Bonus awards $1000 to the winner of the 3 races featured in the Triple Crown, the Mint 400, Laughlin Desert Challenge and Vegas to Reno. Safecraft also kicked in an additional $2000 to the team with the highest point total of the 3 race series.

Congratulations to Todd and his team and a big ‘THANK YOU’ to Safecraft Safety! 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.

Brad Pace and co-driver Eric Sheetz grabbed the second starting position however the team wasn’t exactly sure if they were going to make it there to begin with. During contingency the Spitfire Racing entry would develop master cylinder fault leaving them with zero braking ability. This ultimately led to installing two new master cylinders, bench bleeding and flushing the entire system until they were able to obtain full pedal.

Race day comes and the 6074 heads out on a strong pace keeping the 6012 in their sights. Running strong and just a few miles in the 6017 gets around them, Eric said, “Brandon Arciero passes us around race mile 22 like a batt out of hell leaving Brad and I scratching our heads, questioning our pace.”

Then Todd Jackson runs down Brad and Eric and makes the pass through the silt and a cloud of dust that pretty much left the team to drive by braille only trusting their LeadNav as they could hardly see the front bumper. Coming out of the mountains near rm30 they spot the 6017 on its lid and realize now they are back in 3rd position. Further down course, near another set of high speed rollers Brad finds himself slightly distracted by seeing the 6012 broken on the left side of the course and nearly throws the race away. “We almost went end over end! Luck was on our side as we both regain consciousness, check our pants for any wet spots, then say to one another, well that was close!", said Eric. From there on, the 6074 kept a steady pace to secure a 2nd place finish and their first podium finish in the TrophyLite class.

The Spitfire Racing Team is super excited about their finish and their TrophyLite. The TL has finished every mile of every race since they purchased it in 2015. Races include, 2 Baja 1000’s, 2 Vegas to Reno’s and 2 Mint 400’s and now the Tonopah 250. Eric said, “The first race 6074 had zero issues and ran a flawless race; zero flats, no mechanical issues and all without getting stuck or tipping her over!”

They would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters: Spitfire Racing, Lewis Energy Group, LeadNav, BFGoodrich, SRD, Method Wheels, Impact by Mastercraft Safety, Baja Designs, SignArt Graphic, American Off-Road and The TEAM at TrophyLite (Rick, Brenda, Jason, Gretchen and the rest of the crew).

Fabtech Motorsports entry driven by Ryan Winner and navigated by Barry Karakas finishes in 3rd place. It has been great to have the Winner Motorsports Group on board with TrophyLite and the team continues to impress as the 6068 picks up their second podium finish in just as many races. Keep an eye out for this team in the 2018 season.

Coming off an awesome win at Vegas to Reno the Challenge Motorsports team would be faced with adversity. From surviving the Route 91 tragedy to being displaced in one way or another from the fires that had burned thousands of acres in southern and northern California, Tonopah seemed to be a welcomed get-away. Desert racing requires focus and competing for a win in the TrophyLite class requires your complete attention. The Challenge Motorsports preparation timeline for Tonopah was compressed when they lost a transmission during testing just 2 weeks before the race day. As a result they were only able to put 12 shakedown miles on the truck while on the way to Tonopah. That would prove to be significant.

Jeff Mortis and Bret Young were starting the race with Chris Wacker driving the second half. The truck was fast and the suspension was handling the high speed rollers. At rm16 Jeff made his first pass on another TL and minutes later the 6048 lost power steering. Jeff muscled the truck to RM 20 where the team would assess and locate parts. Jason Cobb was there waiting for Josh in the 6066 and offered to help but they needed to replace the steering servo. Mike Slater directed his crew to get their spare servo to the 6048 team. Mortis and Young made the swap and got back on course 2 hours down, 6 TrophyLite trucks ahead of them and 225 miles left to go. Bret expressed his appreciation by saying, “I can't say enough great things about the TL teams, Jackson and Cobb did everything they could to help us finish this race. A supportive culture like this starts at the top with Rick and Brenda Johnson setting the tone for the entire organization, they are always willing to help no matter what the circumstance."

When Wacker took over the driving duties for the second half, the 6048 was now in 5th place and with their little delay, Chris was going to drive mostly in the dark. The KC HiLites light bar was mounted and Chris pushed the truck hard through some amazing terrain that seemed to have a little bit of everything. With 30 miles to go Chris and Bret made their final pass on another TL and finished the race in 4th.

The 6048 team would like to Congratulate Todd and Mike on the win at Tonopah which will make the final race of the season in Pahrump a showdown for the Championship. “Jeff and Chris are so confident with the performance of the truck that they are going faster every race. It should be an epic battle to the finish in Pahrump", said Bret.

Losing a steering servo in the first 20 miles of a race could deter many from continuing on so we would like to award the Challenge Motorsports team the $500 Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger Award. Congratulations to Jeff and the entire Challenge 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 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

TrophyLite House Rental #6099

TrophyLite had a last minute rental inquiry and with only about 10 days to prep a truck the TrophyLite team were able to pull together and get a truck ready. The TrophyLite house rental went to a team of road racers, pavement only drivers by the name of Dave Smith, Kai Goddard, Slade Stewart, Jim Edwards and Chris Quintana who all came into this race with ZERO idea of what a TL was or what to expect. Flying in just hours before the drivers meeting, a Chinese fire drill of sorts was planned for the pit stops to get all 5 team members behind the wheel as well as the right seat. All they knew was that they were looking for an adventure and they had heard that Baja should be on their bucket list! Well, the 5 road racers quickly learned that the Nevada desert is not Baja and that she can be an angry beast when not respected.

Slade Stewart started off the race with Kai Goddard riding shotgun and they would do the first 48 miles to pit 1. The truck was in perfect condition and screamed out of pit 1 with Kai now behind the wheel and Jim Edwards moved into the co-driver seat. This combination adjusted quickly and the 6009 began to pick up the pace as the duo became more comfortable with the truck and the ever-changing environment. As they raced into pit 2, the team had moved from the last starting position to the 5th truck on the road. For the next leg, Jim moved from the co-driver’s seat into the hot seat and Chris Quintana was the new co-driver for his 53 mile section into pit 3. Jim would pick up more time on the lead pack until a “dust out” on a high-speed section of track just before pit 4 would send them off course and onto the even softer ground and officially stuck about 100 yards off course and out of sight from help. No racer would dare go out in the soft stuff to give them a pull so they team started digging and using the jack as traction to try and work their way out. This did not prove to be the final solution as the great Best in the Desert staff finally came along a couple of hours later to pull the truck to firmer ground.

Once back in the race the truck slid into the final pit before the finish line and Dave Smith jumped in the driver’s seat and Slade Steward handled the co-driving duties. Rick Johnson and team threw on the big rack of KC HiLiTES and sent them team into the darkness to bring it home. Dave flew through his section until a rock ended their momentum about 30 miles from the finish but after an impressive pitstop/tire change on a jack that had been used earlier for traction the tandem raced to the finish for a well-earned 5th place finish. Dave and team partied on the podium to celebrate their finish and checking a huge item off the proverbial bucket list! I do not think we have seen the last of these guys.

Greg Bragg #6012

Greg Bragg drove a great race and stayed out front most of the day until RM160 when the torque convertor bolts backed out keeping his team from a possible first win. It was great to see he figured out where his missing speed has been all this time. Greg and the GB Racing team continues to be a threat and look for him at the front of the pack in Pahrump.

Brandon Arciero #6017

The FST Sand and Gravel TropyLite was off the line 3rd driven by Brandon Arciero and his co-driver Tommy Payne holding down the right seat. Brandon was off to a great start with an aggressive pace and chasing that elusive class win. After getting around the 6074 and the two began to make the push to pass the race leader at the time, Greg Bragg in the 6012. But it was around rm27 in a section featuring some high speed rollers Brandon caught a lip that sent the rear of the truck up in the air and landing the 6017 flat on its lid. Fortunately Brandon and Tommy were OK and walked away from the incident however time revealed that Brandon would suffer from a concussion and would miss some time from work to recover. We wish the Arciero Motorsports team a speedy recovery and hope to see the 6017 truck back in action soon.

Josh Cobb #6066

The 6066 of Josh Cobb was very clear on what his objective was for the 2017, BITD, Tonopah 250 and that was win! He had to win to have a chance at the TL Championship with 1 round left and the tough hurdles of Mortis and Jackson out in front. Off the start line Josh would be the 4th TL into the desert and would set notice early as he was quickest to the 8 mile mark and by rm15 had moved onto the rear of the 6074 who was on the bumper of 6017. Co-driver Alex Kenison would radio in that the team was at rm16 and all was good but unbeknown to them, it was not. Less than ¼ mile later the lower end of the motor would make a dramatic appearance through the block and oil pan and the duo’s day would come to an immediate end. Not at all what the team had planned but as they say, “that’s racing.” Josh would jump into the chase for the 6074 Spitfire team and help them to the finish line.

A few words from Mr. TrophyLite, Rick L. Johnson:
“I need to thank my wife Brenda for all of her support and endless help. I couldn't be doing this without all of her love and support for my racing addiction. I also need to give a shout out to my tech and pit helpers Jeremy and Jesse Newton. They are great friends and always there when I need help.”
“I really need to thank Jason, Gretchen and team Cobb for pulling triple duty helping in tech, pit support for the Spit Fire team and last minute TL rental help. Man, great people who never say No and figure out a way to make the impossible - possible.”
“Final thoughts - Best in the Desert continues to be the leader in off-road racing with a professional team and top notch races. I really miss Casey & Diane but the staff is doing a hell of job and its business as usual.”

We look forward to seeing you all in Pahrump as we crown the 2017 TrophyLite Race Series Champion!

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)
Instagram: @trophylite
Twitter: @trophylite_race

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 hope we will see you all at the Pahrump 250!

Driver Number Points
Todd Jackson 6001 421
Jeff Mortis 6048 419
Josh Cobb 6066 351
Greg Bragg 6012 307
Brandon Arciero 6017 304
Craig Spitz 6021 244
Tony Sato 6056 239
Kyle Ahrensberg 6061 182
Ryan Winner 6068 166
View All Points Standings

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, Mastercraft Safety, Method Race Wheels, Challenge Financial Services, Safecraft Safety Equipment, Metro Honda & Metro Acura, Maxima Racing Oils Currie Enterprises, Fox, Tanimura & Antle Fast Line Driving School Southwest Boulder and Stone Jakes Fabworks Children of the Dirt, Kartek Off-road, Wild Powersports, PCI Race Radios, Impact, K&N Filters, and Kreed Eyewear.

Photo Credits - Bink Designs <-- Thank you!