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Mojave Desert Racing - MDR's Lucerne Launch

Posted in Events on June 2, 2004
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Contributors: Ben DoidicAlan Madden

In the desert racing world, both SCORE and Best in the Desert rule the roost in terms of famous races and big-name racing teams. If you want to see Team Herbst battling Riviera Racing, tune in to the Baja 1000 or Vegas to Reno. If you want to get off the sidelines and into the driver's seat, check out the MDR series.

MDR, aka Mojave Desert Racing, is headed up by Patricia Williams. Patricia's interest in promoting desert races came not from experiences in the driver's seat, but from an equine saddle. As horseback riding areas became scarcer, she saw the same trend in off-roading spots. "We put on these races to keep the areas open ... to make use of the land so that it doesn't become closed off," says Williams. This approach benefits racers and non-racers alike, since the off-roading areas are devoid of race traffic on most weekends. Want to test out your new Sway-A-Way shocks and Camburg suspension in the Mojave? Better thank MDR for helping to keep the land open. MDR offers races and entry fees at a level that encourages would-be racers to jump in and enjoy the races from behind the wheel instead of behind the fence.

MDR's eighth season kicked off in California's Mojave Desert with the Lucerne 250. With the snowy slopes of Big Bear shimmering in the distance, racers made their way around a 50-mile high-desert loop that included full-throttle dry lake sections; deep, sandy whoops; and the occasional rock garden. Chilly winter air meant no overheating worries.

Carolyn Hines hammers the throttle of her V-8-powered Ford Ranger. The 302ci crate motor is connected to a C-4 tranny equipped with a manual valvebody. The power is then transferred into the simplest, most durable traction device around a spool.

Is Lucerne smoother than MDR's rocky minefield of a course at Barstow? Yep. Easy? Absolutely not. Do you want some numbers? Seventy-one entries took the green flag at Lucerne. How many survived to take the checkered flag? A wispy 26. At Lucerne, the Prerunner class had the most crowded entry list. Why? Where most traditional classes have a restrictive set of rules, the Prerunner class has minimal rules beyond the required safety equipment. This opens up many avenues for designing and building a race-bound prerunner. Since many prerunners remain street registered, driving to the race, racing, and driving home afterward is a viable option -- no trailer required.

Matt Langan took his Desolate Motorsports F-150 to the top Prerunner class finish. The two-wheel drive began life as Matt's daily driver and still uses the stock V-6 and five-speed manual tranny. Langan's final 2003 race ended with the red Blue Oval wounded on a trailer after a rollover at the MDR Stoddard 250. Fortunately, the damage wasn't that bad. "We didn't have to do that much body work -- we just jacked up the roof in a couple of spots."

Langan Racing avoided flats and "drove a little smarter" to outdo the Prerunner class competition at Lucerne. What about future goals? "We want to get into Class 8 in SCORE and Best in the Desert." That sounds like a plan, Matt. Congrats on the win.

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