Despite the efforts of his General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge competitors, Rick Randall made it four wins in a row at the Best In The Desert Blue Water Challenge race in Parker, Arizona. It was the first time in Jeepspeed’s 14 years of racing that anyone has reached this feat. A two-day, heat race style event had the teams running three laps on a shortened course that contained much of the nastiest sand and deep silt found in Parker. Competitors would have a chance to regroup and make repairs overnight between heats but the race was scored by accumulated times. If you won the first day but failed to finish day two, you were given a DNF (did not finish). The finishing order on Saturday determined the starting order for Sunday’s race. Slightly hotter than usual temperatures of 100 degrees and an almost total lack of a breeze added to the punishment that is typically dished out by the Parker terrain.
Always a big hit with race fans, Parker offers many excellent areas for spectating. Located on the Colorado River, there are countless recreation opportunities available both before and after the race. There is nothing better than relaxing in the river after a hot day of racing. The short course type format and tough terrain meant the racers did not dare relax while on the course. The lack of wind caused the dust to sit around in thick pockets that blinded the drivers. Big holes, ruts and deep washouts are everywhere. Missing a turn in the dust can end your race in a heartbeat.
“This is always a fun race weekend for the Randall’s,” said Rick Randall, “We bring a lot of family and friends along and have a great time racing and spectating. On day 1 we raced hard with no mechanical issues. We started 5th and took the lead on lap three and got the win. We looked the truck over and had a few small issues to address, but overall it was ready to go for day two. We spent the rest of the day watching the big boy’s race. It was cool to watch them at the start and then head to Shea Rd to see them come by. On day two we started first and ran a good pace until the start of lap two when the tranny started to slip in third gear. Half way through the lap, I could smell tranny fluid and had to feather the throttle to keep it from slipping. We pulled into the hot pits to have my dad check the fan on the cooler. It wasn’t spinning so we moved some wires behind the dash and it stated up again. We left the pit in second place after being passed by Mike Bragg.”
“We watched the tranny temp gauge but it wasn’t dropping so we managed it the best we could. Around mile marker five, the gauge was still pegged so we pulled over to check the fan and again it was not turning. Kevin played with the wiring a little and it started up again. We took off, knowing that we had to keep Bragg close but the tranny wasn’t cooperating. It was now slipping in second gear. With all the sand ahead of us, I was scared that we wouldn’t even finish. We kept cruising and went as fast as we could while our crew was giving us time splits. We crossed the finish line and found out that we had won the overall by one minute, fifteen seconds. Congrats to all the finishers and I hope everyone had a great weekend.”
Randall is quick to credit his Dad for helping to prep his truck. It’s good to have a 40 year veteran of off-road racing to draw on. Everyone told Rick to take it easy and finish the next few races and he would win the championship but he wants to win races. He knows how tough his Jeep is so he hammered it on day one. The time he put in the bank on Saturday gave him enough time to overcome the cooling fan issue on Sunday and still take the win.
Mike Bragg took second overall. He started on the pole on Saturday but admits he wasn’t driving as well as usual. “I let a couple guys get around us,” said Bragg, “I picked up the pace with one lap to go, but it wasn’t enough. We finished fourth; two minutes down to Randall. The dust was hanging everywhere. You would get into some thick dust and think you were catching someone but when it cleared, no one was there. The deep sand on the course drove our transmission temperatures up. We got hot at first but then we cooled off and the Jeep ran flawless.”
The sand was even deeper on Sunday. The competitors ran harder on day two, but had slower times due to the deep sand at the exits of the corners. Bragg continued, “Sunday, I was back on my normal pace. At the end of lap two we could see Randall in the distance and closed on him at the hot pits. When he pulled in, the race was on to take back some time on him. He never caught us but still had enough time for the win. We will be back at the Henderson race making these guys earn it!” Bragg won the race on Sunday and with his fourth place on Saturday took second overall for the weekend.
Third place in the Jeepspeed Challenge class went to Kevin Mckeehan. “We were a little conservative on the first lap of Saturday’s heat,” said McKeehan, “We squeezed past Allred at the start. We had not seen the course so we were not running too fast but just enough to stay ahead of Allred. We had no issues with the heat but our power steering went out. I just knuckled down and brought our Jeep to the finish. We bled the power steering and topped off the other fluids for the next day. When we were pulling off the trailer Sunday morning we noticed a tire had lost a few pounds so we changed it. At the start they had watered the course. We hit a puddle that made the back end step out; we hit the bank. That was enough to let Bragg get past us. We lost the charge in one of our shocks so the back end was bouncing quite a bit. We got passed on the river road by 1729 (Biehl) but then saw them pulled over. They gave us a thumbs up so we didn’t stop. That was the only time we got passed. I usually am in second gear coming out of the corners but with the deep sand I dropped down to first and let the rev’s come up to keep momentum; we were running the pace we wanted until a mile from the finish. The truck started losing fuel pressure. We sputtered across the line but had to be pushed to the podium by the car that finished behind us.”
Fourth place was points leader Rob Seubert. His strategy was to go hard because he still had a throw out race available. Each competitor has one race that they are allowed to throw out at the end of the season. That way if you have a bad race early on, you are still in contention the rest of the season. Seubert started right next to Randall on Saturday. “Randall got us off the line and we attempted to stay close, but the dust was pretty thick,” said Seubert, “Not sure we could have kept up with Mr. four-in-a-row even without the dust....but no way with it. We found some issues with the Jeep after the heat. A Big, BIG, thank you to team 1766 (McKeehan). They came to the rescue with a spare axle that matched ours. After several hours of cleaning, we had it all back together for the Sunday start. We were lined up next to 1729 (Biehl). We beat them to the merge but they did a much better job in the dust staying on us, and we had to let them go around. We got them back 10 miles later while they had some mechanical problems. My co-driver got sick toward the end of lap one and the car was having transmission issues so we were forced to go into the hot pit. This let 1731 (Hoffman) get by us and we battled all of lap 2. We finished out 4th on the day and 4th overall for the weekend.”
The Blue Water Challenge was also the final race in the Inaugural KMC Jeepspeed Wrangler Trophy series. The three race series attracted a very diverse group of competitors and several new vehicles are under construction for the series in 2016. The KMC Jeepspeed Wrangler Trophy Champion was Billy Bunch driving his Class 3700 TJ Wrangler powered by a GM LS motor.
On his bumper all year was Skyler Gambrell driving the Coan Brothers 6 cylinder Class 1700 Wrangler in second. (Gambrell finished fifth in the Jeepspeed Challenge race). Third place went to Dan Simonson from Washington, who could only make it to 2 races with his awesome sounding Chevy powered Wrangler.
Bunch and Simonson battled it out in Jeepspeed Cup competition all weekend. The two V8 powered Wranglers could be heard filling the valley with a beautiful rumbling sound for miles. Despite a missed corner in the dust that put Bunch on his side during Saturday’s heat race, he pulled off the win with Simonson finishing second. “Saturday started well with me driving and Travis Ronne riding shotgun,” said Dan Simonson, “We lost a fan belt by the river on lap 2, got it changed, and then cooled down. Travis drove use to the finish.
On Sunday, the track was much rougher. We had about 10 minutes to make up from Saturday so I drove a little harder when we could. Things were going good until an ignition coil went bad. That took us a while to figure out and fix, but we did. We got back on the track and made it to the finish.”
The competition seen in the Jeepspeed series is not for the meek and 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 is the Official Axle of Jeepspeed. King shocks are the Official Shock of Jeepspeed. G2 is the Official Gear supplier of Jeepspeed. Rubicon Express is the Official Suspension of Jeepspeed. 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 also continue to be a vital part of our teams’ success 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. Jeepspeed rules allow you the freedom to build your own race truck as long as you follow a few simple rules. No other racing series gives you the challenge of off-road racing at such a reasonable cost.
The next race will be the season finale Henderson 250, held December 4-6 in Henderson, Nevada. For the additional information about 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. Go to the Jeepspeed forum and you can read in-depth race reports from many of the Jeepspeed teams.
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.
Visit // www.jeepspeed.com
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.
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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