Jeepspeed Ironman Flies Under The Radar To Win Vegas To Reno
Las Vegas, NV
General Tire Jeepspeed racers set out to conquer the longest off road race in the United States; Best In The Desert’s Vegas to Reno, (V2R). Their strategies may have been unique but they all shared the same goal; make it to the finish. Not an easy task when you have to traverse 533 miles of nasty, desolate Northern Nevada terrain. Dust, silt beds that can swallow a truck whole and lots of sharp rocks uncovered from recent monsoon rains all stood between the Jeepspeed teams and the checkered flag. Many succumbed to the numerous hazards along the way. Eight Jeepspeed Challenge starters in Class 1700 and 3 Jeepspeed Cup teams took the green flag.
When preliminary results were released, the 3Amigos team was declared the winner. After some review, Rob Seubert was credited with the win. He was overlooked because his tracking device was not sending updates during the event. He and co-driver Nick Neal drove under the radar the entire distance. Rob and Nick were in the Jeep 19 hours straight with no relief, Ironman style. The 3Amigos, Jeff Sherrill, Dave Bolles and Ron Thomas were second and John Brannon and Brendan King took the final spot on the podium.
Rob Seubert started on the pole for the race in his Warrior Products Jeep Cherokee but his advantage did not last for long. A nagging overheating issue resurfaced. When the temperature gauge rose, they had no choice but to slow down and eventually pull over. He and Nick had to sit by and watch the rest of the field drive past. They would let the engine cool off and then get under way only to slow down again when the temperature climbed. They finally made it to pit one just as the last car on the course, a class 11 bug, went past.
“Our entire chase crew was at the pit,” says Rob, “A big thanks to Jimmy Perry and his buddy that came up to help chase us. Jimmy was the one that spotted the hairline crack in the filler neck of our radiator. This was keeping the system from building pressure; we were boiling the water out. We did a JB weld repair on it, put water back in and off we went.”
“Things went pretty smoothly for the mid portion of the race, said Rob, “We actually started to pass a few jeeps. Most of them pulled off to the side with issues of their own. Somewhere after pit 10 we found ourselves in 3rd place, then 2nd. As we crept up on the lead Jeepspeed in the silt, they got stuck. Knowing they were the first place car, it was a moment of mental anguish on what to do. I backed up to them and the co-driver hooked up the strap. We gave him a good pull, but only went maybe 10 feet before I sank in the silt and my temp went to 240. We gave it a shot, but had to abandon them and get some air/water circulating through the radiator.”
With karma points in the bank, it still wasn’t enough. They started to feel a vibration in the front so they pulled over to check it out. “The u-joint in the right front axle was destroyed,” said Rob, “The good part was, it was so damaged that once out we could easily separate the joint. We just put the wheel bearing back in with the stub shaft. We stuffed rags in the axle tube to keep oil in the differential and we were off again. As the sun came up we were in that final nasty section. We cruised across the finish line about 6 A.M. after roughly 19 hours behind the wheel; my first solo drive at Vegas to Reno. A big thanks to my brother in law Nick Neal who stuck with me in the co-driver seat the entire distance.”
Rob and Nick chose to do the race solo. For the 3Amigos team, they did it entirely differently. The guys each take a turn behind the wheel. When they aren’t driving, they are pitting the Jeep. It’s a great way to afford racing and it’s also a blast. “We had so much fun,” says Dave Bolles, “We are really jazzed the way it turned out. The win would have been nice but we are just as happy with second.” Dave drove the first 200 miles of the course taking a turn in the lead. He handed the Jeep over to Jeff at Tonopah. They had a broken header but welded it up in the pits. Jeff had a great run and handed the truck over to Ron at Hawthorn pit. That’s when things got interesting. Ron came upon a bottleneck and tried going around up a bank. Gravity got the best of him and he flopped the Jeep over on its side. They had to slide the jeep around to face downhill before they could put it back on the wheels. The recovery broke the steering. They fixed the steering and kept making their way towards the finish line. A couple minutes short of 20 hours after they left the line, they crossed the finish. “With the roll and the repairs we had 8 hours of downtime but we never gave up!” says Dave, “We had so much fun; everyone was laughing all day long. It made it so much better to get the finish at such a tough race like this.”
Third place John Brannon and Brendan King went fishing in Mammoth after the race. They were stuck in the silt all day and thought about throwing in the towel. After a cold cheeseburger and the promise of a podium finish they soldiered on to finish after 21 hours of racing. Around mile 300, Mike Shetler’s Jeepspeed #1798 with Mark White Sr. behind the wheel and Mark White Jr. navigating had a major roll down a mountainside while leading. Some say it went over 4 to 8 times.
The Jeep was mangled but driver and co-driver were both OK after medical assistance. Eric Heiden had the points lead heading into the race. He was only 150 miles from the finish when his transmission failed. “We went through the area where they filmed the 1969 Apollo moon landing, then we saw Nevada’s biggest boulder storage yard, and we had the pleasure of driving through world’s largest supply of talcum powder. All in one day,” said Eric. Rob Seubert’s win puts him in the points lead with Heiden in second. John Brannon leaps over Skyler Gambrell into third place in the standings. Gambrell fought fuel delivery issues all day until the Jeep could not continue. The second place finish for the 3Amigos team puts them back in the top ten in the eighth spot.
The Class 3700 Jeepspeed Cup competitors highlighted the diversity of trucks in the Jeepspeed series.
Brian Davidson drove a Hemi powered 4 door Wrangler. He DNF’d due to lack of oil pressure at mile 51. Rob White was behind the wheel of the ex Mears Jeep Honcho with 410 AMC power. Fuel delivery problems put him out at Tonopah. Past Champion Billy Bunch was there in his Jeep Wrangler LJ with a 4.7 liter, 6 cylinder stroker motor. He launched a connecting rod thru the block at Tonopah taking him out. V2R was not kind to the Jeepspeed Cup competitors.
The Vegas to Reno course is a huge challenge and takes competitors to some incredible spots along the way. Once you hit Reno, there are tons of fun things to do in the area. You travel through some of the most scenic and remote areas of Nevada and end up with Reno, Tahoe, Mammoth and Yosemite Valley all within reach on the trip home. Many racers plan their vacations around V2R. It’s just one of the fun and demanding races included in the General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge, (class 1700) and the General Tire Jeepspeed Cup, (class 3700). Both series are presented by ATX Wheels.
If you would like to find out how to compete in the Jeepspeed series go to www.jeepspeed.com
. There you will find additional info, deals on some attractively priced race Jeeps, Jeepspeed news, rules, forums, race results, videos and much more.
Photography By: Crene Studios & Double Down Photos
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, ATX Wheels, RDM Offroad, Howe Performance, Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, TJ Performance Center, Allpar.com, Sunoco Race Fuels, Baja Designs, Rubicon Express, G2 Axle & Gear, Smittybilt & PAC Racing Springs.
About General Tire
For 99 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, American Sprint Car Series, FreestyleMx.com
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With provisional sales of around €33.3 billion in 2013, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has more than 177,000 employees in 46 countries.