Mint 400 Race Recap:
WOW WOW WOW. EPIC racing again with a great bunch of guys with a never give up attitude!
Crowded and fun, definitely comparable to Baja and lots of fun. Alex put us up in some really nice rooms at the golden nugget. Thank you for that. IRC was a mess because they didn’t have enough tracking devices, but we figured it out and picked up our tracker on race day. Other than the tracker issue, tech was exceptionally smooth for us.
We had little to do on the truck and concentrated on getting main pit ready. Seth and Jeff left early and headed out to pit B at race mile 80. Good couple of guys who communicated well throughout the day to the race car and to us at main pit as well.
We were lucky enough to draw a 5th place start which was great. Myself and a few of our crew were able to witness the infield start which was a 2 truck side by start. Alex and Dave were right next to the 6175 truck which is the exact same build as our truck. It was going to be interesting to see how 2 of the exact same trucks but with different drivers would do…..Alex got the hole shot and 4 corners in he had a 4 truck lead….nuff said. We watched as they headed off into the dust and went back to main pit.
Dave was calling out mile markers and we were calculating about a 60mph average, which was great considering this race is known as “the toughest roughest off road race in the U.S.”. About race mile 50 of the first lap we were 3rd on the road when the drive belt came off. Fortunately the guys jumped out and put a new one on but this cost us a few positions. When they reached pit B, Seth and Jeff tossed them a spare belt and they kept moving. They were back on course and made good time back to main pit.
At main pit we were ready. David Hudson and I put the light bar on, Garrett did a great job of dumping 40 gallons of fuel, while the rest of the guys looked over the truck. The truck was clean so they headed out of our pit in less than 90 seconds….but not after drinking a coke.
This where it gets a little funky….they were told to stop at the start finish, but before the timing trailer. So our first lap time was still clicking away…..they waited there for many minutes, but not until the trucks behind them showed up and they were sent out in 15 second intervals. This comes into play, because at the end of the day we were 3 minutes behind the 6th place finisher, but I know they were much more than 3 minutes behind us at the end of the first lap. Frustrating, definitely, but the race stoppage was due to a medical emergency down the course for some guys that needed to get air lifted out of there. Understandable, but the timing at the start/finish should have been handled differently in my opinion. I hope the guys that were injured have a full recovery…it was a bad situation for sure.
Alex and Dave were running hard and made up several positions, up to 4th on the road again. Until……the drive belt came off again, but not until it also damaged a coolant hose. Fortunately they were only about 10 miles from main pit so in Alex’s words “Dave’s gonna duct tape the shit out of it and we’ll see you soon!”. So they’re moving again and I hear Alex on the radio again, but this time his voice is shaky..”We almost went over…the hood blew off, the bumper and lower lights are wasted” I tell Alex…use the jack handle to bend the bumper back if you need to…Alex “the bumper is gone!! We’re getting everything off and we’ll be there soon!” (Turns out they stuffed it off of a big jump and nearly went end over end, apparently the truck was vertical) …..this pit stop was going to be VERY busy. We’re lucky to have such good guys on the team and everyone did their thing. 40 gallons of fuel, 2 rear tires and I had to deal with the coolant leak while David Hudson took care of what was left of the bumper. This was a long stop, over 10 minutes….but aside from the bumper, hood, and lower lights missing….she was good to go!!!
3rd lap was a waiting game for us as we could no longer do anything for the truck. It was up to Alex and Dave to bring her home….and they did exactly that, but not without passing a few more trucks and getting a couple positions back.
Man this was a hell of a race. It was definitely all it was made up to be. There’s much more to tell…this is the short version! At the end of the day we persevered and managed a 7th in class and 40th overall, of 74 finishers. The course was just brutal with dust, rocks, etc. It took its toll on a ton of vehicles. At this point we are in a 3 way tie for second in points going into our 3rd race of a 6 race series! See you at the silver state 300!