General Tire ATX Wheels Jeepspeed Series Season Opener a Wild One at Parker 425
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The opening round of Jeepspeed racing in 2014 was rather wild. The General Tire ATX Series Wheels Jeepspeed series commenced at the Best in the Desert Blue Water Parker 425 in Parker, Arizona. The Parker course is a tough one; this year it was worse than it’s ever been by anyone’s account. The Jeepspeeds would do two laps of the approximately 140 mile long course. This first race of the year saw the return of many standouts that made a name for themselves last year along with newcomers like Ernest Henriquez, Rob Seubert, Megan McLeod and Robert White; 18 Jeeps in all.
This race would not be decided by experience, the course and conditions would have a big factor in the outcome. Not only was it rougher than anyone can remember but the desert had been very dry leading up to the race; it was going to be a very dusty day despite a good breeze.
The first lap had an urgent pace to it; $1000 dollars was up for grabs. The General Tire “Parker Grand Lap” would award the fastest class 1700 on the first lap with a grand in cash. The dash for cash took a toll on some of the competitors. Past champion Eric Helgeson lost a front wheel. Henderson 250 winner Skyler Gambrell had a stone pierce his radiator. Rookie driver #1780 Henriques rolled over a berm while chasing Helgeson. #1716 Tom Thorvick lost a rear dif, and the powerful Honcho V8 of Rob White broke a tri-link then lost a drive shaft; all this in the first 30 miles. Rick Randall made no bones about going for the cash. He spun his front wheels off the start as soon as the green light was on. He took the cash and the lead by 10 miles on the first lap. The running order was Randall, Seubert, Heiden and Mortis going into lap two.
Gambrell used his vast automotive and survival skills to patch his radiator and was underway when he got hit in the dust by an unlimited class 1500 car. By the time the dust finally cleared, three other cars piled up in the melee taking each other out of the race. The leader Rick Randall pulled out to let a faster car go by but when he pulled back onto the course a 6100 truck hit him broadside which cost him the lead and some additional down time. Heiden assumed the lead in his familiar 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers Cherokee with the rookie Seubert and George Mortis closing fast.
The race at the front was really heating up. At the same time others were either closing in or dropping out. Regardless of their situation, good or bad, time was running out for many. At the finish line, everyone expected Eric Heiden to lead the pack but first to the line was Rob Seubert's Warrior
Products Cherokee. Heiden had shock and brake issues in the closing miles that allowed Seubert to chase him down and make the pass. Heiden maintained second place followed by an elated George Mortis in third place with his Challenge Financial Grand Cherokee. Next to cross the line was the battered but $1000 richer Rick Randall who overcame his accident to make it to the finish. Mike Shetler in #1798 had a very consistent day to take a well-deserved 5th place followed by #1722 Conrad Batham in 6th and 2013 Rookie John Brannon in 7th.
Thanks to General Tire, ATX Series Wheels, Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, Howe Performance, T&J Performance, Baja Designs, Rubicon Express, Smittybilt, G2 Axle & Gear, and PAC Racing Springs the Jeepspeed series continues to attract new racers to the sport. No other spec class allows you to design and build your vehicle for desert competition. Many racers have gone on to prosper after getting their start in the General Tire Jeepspeed series. Multi-time Jeepspeed Champion Ray Griffith continues to be one of the fastest drivers in the desert. Last year’s Jeepspeed Champion Todd Jackson won his first race in another series at Parker this year and Casey Currie has transferred the skills he learned into a successful career in short course racing. The next Jeepspeed race will be the famous Mint 400 in Las Vegas, March 13th-15th. For the latest 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: 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, 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 more than 95 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 Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed. Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including Banning Motorsports, CJ Hutchins, Garrick Freitas, Harley Letner, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell/Jerry Whelchel (Camburg), Jim Riley, Justin Lofton, Macrae Glass, Mike Childress, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Rick L. Johnson, Sean Backus, Steve Alexander, Carey Hart/Josh Merrell/Ryan Beat/Rob Naughton (Hart & Huntington), Carl Renezeder, Casey Currie, Kyle Lucas, Robby Woods, Ryan “Fluffer” Hagy, Marc Burnett, and Johnny Campbell.
General Tire is part of Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. (www.generaltire.com). CTA, based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is a company of Germany-based Continental AG. With sales of approximately €20 billion in 2009 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 enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has close to 160,000 employees in 45 countries.