Greg Bragg and the 12 stand atop the TrophyLite field August 18, 2018
Las Vegas, NV – For most sane people, August in Las Vegas means staying inside the A/C or pool side with a toe in the cool water, but not for almost 400 teams that took on the longest and most demanding off-road race in North America. The Best in the Desert, Vegas to Reno race is 530+ miles of the roughest bumps, bone jarring jumps and the sharpest rocks with the deepest silt beds in the sport that runs all the way from just outside of Las Vegas in Beatty, NV, alongside US95 all the way to Dayton, NV just outside of Reno.
This year, the V2R was part of the TrophyLite R4 Series and 15 teams showed up to try and just finish this monster of an event let alone try to race for the TL Championship. First off the line and into the 105 degree desert was John Ferrari in the #6013 R4, who had taken some time off to rebuild his truck for this race. He would lead the pack into Pit #1, 32 miles into the race but he would not lead on corrected time. Josh Cobb who had started 8th off the line had worked his way past 4 other trucks and was leading the race on the clock but was 4th on the road. Greg Bragg was second while series points leader, Ryan Winner was in 3rd but you could throw a table napkin over all 4 trucks.
By pit 2, which was 57 miles into the race, Ferrari had disappeared. Cobb still had the lead on time and was now second on the road behind Bragg. Jim Rossi was moving up from his 15th place start to mid pack but 4th on time and 10th place starter, Travis Williams was in 5th. Joe Fitos would crest a hill and not be able to avoid the broke down truck of Jerry Herling that was sitting in the tight course and would end up on his side and Colorado driver Larry Schmueser would lose his transmission lines and finally the full transmission, ending the perennial favorites day much too early.
By the halfway point, the front three of Cobb, Bragg and Winner would check out on the rest of the field but Cobb lost a fuel pump which cost him a few minutes. Jim Rossi was starting to experience troubles and Travis Williams hit a rock that required a replacement driveline. The second Fabtech truck of Cory Winner was down with fuel pump issues and Elliott Slavic was out with a blown motor. Chris Wardle was starting to move up the leaderboard as his plan to go easy for the first half was proving to be a good plan. Joe Fitos was back on the road and Williams was making up time as well. The running order was Bragg, R. Winner, Cobb, Rossi and Williams.
At Pit #11 which was race mile 384, the #6068 truck of R. Winner was now out front with #6012 Bragg dealing with some ignition issues and the #6066 truck of Cobb trying to make up time. All 3 were within 4.5 minutes but the front two were within seconds. By Pit #13, Greg Bragg had retaken the lead and had began to stretch it out over Winner. Cobb was now without brakes but did not want to take the time to fix them or any hope would be lost trying to catch the lead pack if they faltered. Williams had moved back up to 4th place and Ferrari was now running up to fifth and Chris Wardle in the #6003 truck was close behind Ferrari and coming on strong in 6th. Joe Fitos was moving fast toward the front and Joe Marr and John Slavic were having an epic battle of their own but a few hours behind the lead group.
Greg Bragg would hold on to his lead and cross the finish line first with a winning time of 11:16:58 which was almost 1 hour faster than the previous years winners time! Ryan Winner would bring home the Fabtech #6068 truck in second just 6 minutes and 51 seconds behind Bragg. Josh Cobb would cross the finish line in 3rd with a time of 11:38:52. Travis Williams would eventually finish in 6th after hitting a huge rock and taking out 2 tires and an A-Arm. John Ferrari would find the finish line and earn a 5th place finish in 13:52:05. Chris Wardle had been charging to the front and had moved all the way up to 4th place and we could hear him on the radio counting down the miles. “RM520”, “RM 525” then at RM528, just 2 miles from the finish line, Chris hit a rock the size of a small car and literally broke the rear axle housing in half. How could he come this far to only have it snatched from him in some cruel twist of fate? Never to say “quit” he and his co-driver figured out how to keep the rear end together so the axles would not come out with the spare tire strap and would limp across the finish line in 13:10:49 earning the Vision Hype “Hard Charger” award for Vegas to Reno! Great job Chris.
And what ever happened to the Joe Marr and John Slavic battle? Both would cross the finish line just 7 minutes apart after almost 20 hours of racing with Joe Marr taking 7th and John Slavic being the last official TL finisher with a time of 19:18:19. This is what the class is truly all about.
All in all, it was an amazing day with the 15 teams that took on this grueling race and of course we could not do it without the best partners in the business. Our drivers pushed everything they had at the Yokohama GEOLandar MT tire, but they could not break it. Our first 3 trucks reported 1 flat after 990 miles of racing and that driver was very clear to point out it was his fault. With the other 5 finishers the story was the same. What an amazing tire!
Ultra Wheels saved the day for one of our racers who had to drive 30 miles without a tire and the wheel is still round!!! You can’t make this stuff up! We had ZERO wheel failures on any of the 15 trucks in the race.
The stories go on and on but we could not do it without these amazing companies: Yokohama Tires, Ultra Wheels, Rugged Radios, Factory Canopies, Fabtech Motorsports, Currie Enterprises, Trayco Body Washers, Monster Seal, Pro Eagle Jacks, PRP Seats and Empire Destructive.
Check out www.TrophyLite.com for all the race action, driver stories or find out how to get in your own TrophyLite with a rental program or let us build you your own. Our next race is the unique Laughlin Desert Challenge by BITD in October in Laughlin, NV. Check it out!
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Photo Credits: RnR PhotographyView 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
Active Screen Printing,
Vision Hype Motorsports,
Rnr Photo and