Jeepspeed Racers Prove, It’s Not Over Until It’s Over At Silver State 300
If there is one thing that characterizes the level of competition in the General Tire
Jeepspeed Desert Race Series presented by KMC Wheels
and Premier Chrysler-Jeep
, it’s the famous Yogi Berra saying, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Like the Best In The Desert
Silver State 300 course that climbs and drops over mountains and through valleys, Jeepspeed racers swapped the lead back and forth throughout the race. It’s amazing that a racing series that draws such a diverse field of vehicles can produce such parity and competition. 13 Jeepspeed Challenge Class 1700 entries entered the Silver State 300; one Wrangler, ten Cherokees, one Grand Cherokee, and the first short wheelbase Comanche Pickup truck.
At first glance, the #1707 entry of Perry Coan and Skyler Gambrell looked like a sure winner. Both drivers have a ton of racing success. They were in good equipment and they started on the pole. Despite losing a brake caliper early on, at mile 290 of 304 they looked like a sure bet to win. At race mile 290.5 they were out with a sheared sector shaft on the steering box. To add insult to injury, the shaft broke nearly flush with the housing; denying the crafty Gambrell from using vise grips or whittling a new pitman arm from a fallen cactus; like you would expect from him.
Race winner Rick Randall was up and down the order all day. He started in 11th place and charged through the dust to take the lead after pit 3. He got stuck in the silt allowing Gambrell to pass. After extracting themselves, they chased and caught Gambrell. As they pulled out to pass, they slammed a boulder, killing the left front tire. They changed the tire without losing a position and resumed their chase of Gambrell who was leading. Then they clipped a rock on the right rear causing another flat. When they discovered the lug socket went missing somewhere so they used a trusty crescent wrench on the lug nuts. The stop allowed Rob Seubert to get by dropping them to third. They passed Rob back as he sat on the side of the course a few miles later; they were back in second. “We decided to take it easy and settle for 2nd,” Said Randall, “As we made our way through the silt and Joshua trees towards the finish we were very surprised to see the 1707 parked off of the course. Skyler gave us the thumbs up so we headed for the finish. We heard over the radio that Tim Martin was coming up behind us and we had to push it a little to beat him to the finish. It felt good to win the race after making so many mistakes as a driver.” The win makes it two in a row for Randall racing.
“We had a good race but a little incident nearly cost us everything,” Said Tim Martin, “We were going back and forth with Seubert when he passed us. We came into a left to right corner and we missed the right. We went off course and were stuck on a ledge. 1771, (Korbet Krough and Jesse Stowell) gave us a tug off the ledge so we could continue.” Tim spent the rest of the race battling thick dust, trees and deep ruts in the silt beds. At one point he got crossed up in the deep ruts caused by the unlimited trucks and the Cherokee shot off course into the desert. As they kept moving they passed several competitors stopped on the course. “There are so many fast guys in this class anyone can win,” says Martin, “My pit crew is my wife, kids and anyone who will lend a hand. We were happy to finish third but when we passed Skyler we knew we had second. This is my best finish to date. I’m looking forward to Vegas to Reno.” An interesting side note is that the Randall Racing crew built the engine in Tim Martin’s truck.
In third place was points leader Garrett Allred. He was dicing with Dylan Cochran through the trees when he clipped a boulder and flipped his Grand Cherokee onto the side. In an amazing act of sportsmanship, Cochran stopped and helped Allred back onto 4 wheels. “We would not be on the podium without their help,” said Allred, “We were overheating all day; the temperature did not want to go below 240. Then we had the roll. We got stuck in a silt bed but Best in the Desert was right there to pull us out. We really wanted a podium so I was on it; working the truck super hard. We stopped in the pits to tighten a ball joint; that’s when Martin passed us. Then Seubert went down, Gambrell went down, we ended up on the podium. Despite the day we had with all the problems, I can’t complain. I can’t even explain what a good feeling it is to be on the podium. I should buy Cochran a muffin basket or something for pulling us back over.” The podium finish keeps the rookie Allred in the points lead.
We were having a great battle through the trees when we came around a corner and they went on their side,” said Dylan Cochran about Allred’s roll, “We are friends with Garrett’s co-driver Ken Stahlman so we stopped. He was in a bad spot; we’ve been there before so I know how stressful it is. We passed those guys back and forth all day. At mile 240 we lost the rear track bar. I had to limp it in for 5th place.”
In 4th place was Mike Bragg. He drove a solid race. While others dropped out or got stuck, he kept moving up through the field. “We had the 4x4 shift lever come loose, my co-driver had to hang onto it until we made it to pit 3,” said Bragg, “We stuck it in 4x4 and pulled the lever off. We got stuck 6 or 7 times here last year so we converted the front end to four wheel drive and added G2 gears in our Currie 9” and Dana 44 differential. We got stuck 6 or 7 times here last year so we converted the front end to four wheel drive. We were down on power so I had to keep downshifting. It turned out that we lost a header collector bolt that affected the O2 sensor. We just kept picking guys off all day. We came up on that uphill silt bed; I side-hilled it and passed two guys right there. We made easy passes like that all day.”
In Jeepspeed Cup Class 3700, Bob Mamer was sole survivor in his turbo charged Comanche. “We had a plan to take it easy until pit 5; especially after we heard about our friend Justin Lofton’s big crash while we were in staging,” said Mamer, “We had vapor lock issues that caused the motor to die. It got a little scary in the mountains. We stopped and tried a couple things but it continued. It started to die on the wooden bridge and we didn’t think we would make it across. We played with the fuel pumps and all of a sudden it was running good. Then it was running great. From then on it was a lot of fun. We heard others in our class had problems so we played it smart and it all worked out. We had no flats all day!”
The competition seen in the Jeepspeed series would not be possible without the sponsors of the series that include General Tire, KMC Wheels; now the Official Wheel of Jeepspeed; taking over from their sister brand ATX. The Wheel Pros Group has sponsored Jeepspeed for more than 10 years now. Premier Chrysler Jeep is the Official Jeep Dealer and Presenting Sponsor of the Jeepspeed Desert Racing Series'. Currie Enterprises returns as the Official Axle of Jeepspeed. King Shocks are the Official Shock of Jeepspeed. G2 Axle & Gear is the Official Gear supplier of Jeepspeed. Rubicon Express is the Official Suspension of Jeepspeed. Three out of the top five finishers were running Rubicon Express suspension. SmittyBilt is the Official Off Road Equipment supplier of Jeepspeed. PAC Springs is the Official Spring of Jeepspeed and KC HiLites is the Official Light of Jeepspeed.
Jeepspeed Official Suppliers continue to be a vital part of our teams’ success also and a huge asset to the Jeepspeed series. Approved supporters and product suppliers also include Rock Krawler Racing Developments, Synergy Mfg., JAZ Fuel Cells, Poly Performance and Howe Performance Steering.
*In order to ensure close points throughout the initial year of the KMC Jeepspeed Wrangler Trophy there will be bonus points in addition to the normal Jeepspeed race points at Silver State 300 and Parker Blue Water Challenge. Points are as follows:
Race 1 / Mint 400 - No bonus.
Race 2 / Silver State 300 - 50 bonus start points. Plus class podium bonus, 50 bonus points for a class win. 25 bonus points for a class 2nd. 10 bonus points for a class 3rd.
Race 3 / Parker Blue Water Challenge - This is a two day race. 50 bonus points for starting each day, plus the class podium points bonus each day. Wrangler competitors do not have to enter all three races. The Wrangler Trophy winner will be driver who amasses most points at any of these three races.
Jeepspeed Challenge Class 1700 points after the Silver State 300.
1. Allred 304 pts
2. Bragg 292
3. Seubert 286
4. Cochran 282
5. Hoffman 280
6. Randall 266
7. Martin 228.
Jeepspeed Cup Class 3700 points after the Silver State 300.
1. Mamer 271 pts
The next event will be August 13-15 when they race from Vegas to Reno, the longest off-road race in the United States.
Photography By: Bink Designs
The Jeepspeed series is a competitive, cost effective series that has pitted Jeep vehicles against each other on challenging desert courses since 2001. Unlike the more expensive spec racing classes, there is no obligation to purchase your race vehicle or parts from the series organizer. You build your own vehicle the way you like as long as it fits within the rules. Jeepspeed offers the most fun and closest racing in the desert today. Jeepspeed series is supported by General Tire, KMC Wheels, Premier Chrysler & Jeep, KC Hilites, Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, Rubicon Express, G2 Axle & Gear, Smittybilt, PAC Racing Springs, Rock Krawler Racing Developments, Synergy Mfg, Poly Performance & Howe Performance.
About General Tire
For 100 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs. General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, Best in the Desert Racing Series, Major League Fishing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late-Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, World Cup of Softball, American Sprint Car Series, FreestyleMx.com
Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed. Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including Mikey Childress, CJ Hutchins, Doug Fortin, Harley Letner, Jim Riley, Macrae Glass, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Ryan Beat, Carl Renezeder, Robby Woods and Camburg Racing.
Visit // www.generaltire.com
About KMC Wheels
Founded in 1982, KMC has a 30-year legacy of delivering quality aftermarket and off-road wheels at competitive prices. KMC is a Wheel Pros brand. Wheel Pros products are sold worldwide in more than 20 countries on four continents and through a U.S. network of more than 25,000 authorized dealers. It is one of the world’s largest suppliers of branded custom wheels, performance tires and related accessories for cars, SUVs and light trucks. KMC Wheels Like no other.
Visit // www.kmcwheels.com