With the sunrise on February 6th in Parker, Arizona, the start of the 2016 off-road racing season was set to begin as the Best in the Desert's Parker 425 heralded the start of many team's yearly race programs.
For 2016, Best in the Desert, and by that we mean Casey Folks, decided to do a few things differently and split the race into two heats. The early heat would start before the sun rose with the limited vehicles taking the start line, while the unlimited vehicles like the Trick Truck class would start later in the afternoon and race into the night.
Starting the race day off, Roger Starkey would take the win in his Alumacraft 1067 buggy with a great time of 7:21:39. Finishing 12 minutes behind him would be Jason Coleman in his Jimco-built buggy with Corey Goin rounding out the Top 3 of the first race.
Later in the afternoon, fan favorite Robby Gordon took to the starting line as the race had moved to the middle of Parker for all the fans to watch the start of the Unlimited Class. With an amazing lineup of over 50 Trick Trucks, the excitement level was high. Robby Gordon was followed by a line-up of top racers such as Rob MacCachren, Andy McMillin, BJ Baldwin, and 2015 Score Off Road Racing Champion Apdaly Lopez. While Gordon was the fastest in Thursday's qualifying session, his day would end sooner than he thought with engine trouble on lap one. Rob MacCachren would face engine troubles as well on Lap 2 after gaining a good lead on the pack.
At the end of the day, history was made as RPM Racing would take the win with Justin Mantley behind the wheel of the Geiser Bros. designed AWD Trick Truck, a first for the class, with a time of 7:10:29. When asked about the truck and how it felt going into the race, Justin said “ The truck felt great right out of the gate during qualifying. Rick and Jeff (Geiser) did an excellent job building this truck and working through the bugs with us. Last year, we ran a few races as tests and knew what we needed to do to make the truck better, after testing and a few new parts we have started down the right path.”
Overall, the race was a great start to the year for many teams, as they get ready to go racing at the rest of the year’s events.
Justin Matney in his Geiser built AWD TT would have a great day as they would take the win overall.
The tireless Casey Folks held this sign for every racer to see as they left the starting line
Roger Starkey in his Alumi Craft was the overall winner of the 1000 class and one of the weekend’s 3-lap races.
Starting the year off in his brand new TSCO TT, Andy McMillin, would end up with a podium finish at 3rd.
One of the fastest of the Day was Rob Mac as he would take over with a large lead but would not finish the race due to engine failure on lap 2.
Fans watch as the start of the parker 425 runs through town before going off into the desert.
Jonathan Brenthel as he races by on the start of the second race at race mile four.
Fan favorite, “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin would start his day off to great start but ended early and would go DNF, he looks to make a comeback at the Mint 400 later this year.
Top Qualifier and Fan Favorite, Robby Gordon before the Green Flag dropped, he would start strong but engine trouble would take him out of the race.
Eduardo Laguna would race the number 17 trophy truck to a 12th overall finish in the RPM Trick Truck.
Best in the Desert Kicks off the season of racing before the sun comes up!
Matney’s looking to keep the momentum going at the next BITD race on the schedule, the Mint 400