I've done the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000, been to countless MDR, MORE, SCORE, CORR, and BITD off road races in the States, but never have I been to the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race. That is until now.
The 2008 Best in the Desert TSCO Vegas to Reno race was held on August 22nd & 23rd in Las Vegas Nevada. V2R as it is commonly referred too is touted as being "The longest off-road race in the United States" and at 456.5 miles it truly is. For this years V2R I was fortunate enough to be hooked up with a team campaigning a Class 8 race truck. A colleague of mine had set the whole thing up but due to a set of very unfortunate circumstances had to withdraw at the last minute. With the team planning on someone from Off-Road tagging along for the race I got the phone call to go. I gladly accepted the offer, got my race gear in order and headed out to meet the team.
Thursday August 21st 2008
Dark O'Clock, Thursday morning, I loaded up my gear and headed out to meet up with Chuck Foreman, driver and partner in the RWP Racing Maxxis Ford F-150 I was going to be racing with. I met up with Chuck and we all piled into his co-driver Carl's mighty chase Tundra and headed out to meet up with the rest of the team at the South Point hotel in Las Vegas for tech inspection and registration. After a short jaunt up the 15 we arrived in Las Vegas where we quickly set to work finding Rich Waite and the race truck. Rich was smart and was finishing up registering for the race just as we were arriving so while Chuck, Carl and I went to register Rich took the truck and got in line for tech inspection.
I will say one thing for BITD, they are very organized, very very organized, which made it really surprising when we got to the ballroom where registration was taking place only to see a line wrapped around the room and down out into the hall! Oh well, gotta do what you gotta do right so we waited, and waited, and then waited some more. After what was probably a solid two hour wait we finally get to the front of the line, the three of use signed our lives away, got our wrist bands and headed out to the parking lot to see how things were going in Tech inspection with Rich and the race truck.
Much to our surprise just as we got to the parking lot where tech inspection was going on Rich and the race truck had just finished and were pulling out. Awesome, we didn't have to stand in the sun, it was time for a long over due lunch, back to the casino! After lunch we headed back out to the truck where the crew was working out some last minute issues, nothing big, just charging shocks and working on the radio system. After a quick run down on how the truck worked, the switches and gauges for Carl and I (the two new co-drivers) it was time for a quick team meeting to work out last minute pit strategy.
From a logistical stand point this type of race, point to point, is a nightmare. So like any good team would do we all sat down the night before the race and planned out our pit stops. With a skeleton crew we had to make every truck matter. Chuck and Rich dug right in to the planning while we all watched, listened, and offered advice where we could. The way BITD had the pits laid out made it easy for us to get our meger crew to points they needed to be at with the right amount of tools and fuel.
With everybody registered, the truck teched, last minute bugs worked out, and pit strategies planned we all hit the hay before what was going to be a long day of racing.
Friday August 22nd 2008
While the race is named the Vegas to Reno race it neither starts in Las Vegas nor does it end in Reno. In reality this race starts in the small town of Beatty Nevada about 150 miles outside of Las Vegas and ends near Carson City Nevada, just a short jaunt from Reno. With the 10:30am start time drawing near we loaded up and headed to Beatty.
Once we made it Beatty we quickly unloaded the truck, filled our dump cans, topped off the tank, checked the air pressure and oil one last time, and headed for the starting line. With the truck staged and ready to start the race we loaded up our Chase Tundra and Greg and Tim loaded up their Tundra and we headed for Pit 2 where I was scheduled to get into the race truck.
Like with any type of race, stuff happens. Rich started the race in the truck and immediately starting having issues with the electric cooling fans. After a short bit of downtime they had the fans working again and were back underway. Unfortunately this downtime caused them to get stuck in a traffic jam (yes, traffic in the desert) behind a terrible wreck between a motorcycle and buggy at mile 44. After clearing the wreck they were finally able to motor on and meet us at Pit 2.
Due to the few minor issues the truck had had the crew decided to call off the driver change at Pit 2, which meant that I wouldn't be getting in the truck. No worries, it's a long race; there are still plenty of miles to cover and plenty of time to get in the truck. So the truck pulls in, gets fuel, a new air filter, and a once over and is sent on its way. With the truck serviced and running strong we pack it up and move on to Pit 4 where we will see the truck next. This is when it all went wrong.
As I said earlier, in any type of racing, stuff happens and seven miles after Pit 2 it happened in a big way. Some how or another one of the I-Beams on the front of the race truck decided it was done playing and split in half. When the beam split the radius arm was able to twist bending the extra large shafts on the two 3" diameter shocks on that side of the truck. We were out of the race.
We got the call on the radio that the truck was out as we were heading for Pit 4 so we turned around and went back to Pit 2 to start planning the recovery. With the truck stuck on the side of the race course about two miles from the highway it wasn't going to be an easy recovery. We borrowed a welder from another team who's day ended at Pit 2 and took it and a generator out to the truck to attempt to weld the beam back together. Unfortunately the welder ran out of wire so we were only able to weld it enough to keep the tire on, but not enough to safely drive the truck off of the course. This meant we needed to get a trailer into it. No biggie. While Carl and I returned the welder to its owners the other half of the crew loaded up Rich's F-250 and trailer and headed out on the course to recover the truck. A couple hours later they were back, truck in tow.
It was not 11pm Friday night. Our race that had started 12 hours earlier had now ended with the truck on the trailer after finishing only 78 of the 465.5 miles. We were all disappointed, but in the end, that's racing. You win some and you lose some, and this time we were on the short end. I'm confident that Rich Chuck and the entire RWP Racing team will be back in full force at the next race and in the hunt for that number one spot!
I have to send a special thanks to Chuck Foreman, Rich Waite, and all the guys on the Rich Waite Painting Race Team for their hospitality and for having me along for the ride that was V2R. Even though we didn't win, and didn't even finish for that matter I still had a great time with you guys.
Also the entire RWP Race Team and I would like to give a special thanks to the guys of the #7221 team. These were the guys that loaned us the welder that we used to try and repair the broken truck to recover it from the desert. You guys hung around way longer than you needed too just to try and help us, and for that we are very grateful. Thank you!