|Las Vegas, NV
The Mint 400 in Las Vegas, Nevada threw out a challenge to offroad racers, and Jeepspeed answered the call. Trucks in all three General Tire Jeepspeed series classes showed up in numbers to battle the brutal course and see who was fastest. 29 Jeepspeed racers in three classes chose to take on the Mint 400. 10 Jeepspeed Challenge Production Class 1700’s, 8 Jeepspeed Cup Modified Class 2700’s and 11 Jeepspeed Outlaws Unlimited Class 3700 trucks. The competition is clearly intensifying and the quality of the many new builds is raising the bar.
It might be the urgency created by the lure of a prestigious win, or the pile of rocks and dirt that makes up the course, but attrition at the Mint is always high. Who comes out on top is a matter of survival more than the pace. The key is to go fast enough to keep up without killing your truck in the process. Even on lap one, the course was already littered with broken trucks, and shattered dreams. Jeepspeed Challenge winner Garett Allred is on a roll. His victory at the Mint 400 makes it 2 in a row. “Coming off a win at Parker, our team had a huge confident boost,” said Allred, “The Mint 400 is always the race to win or even to finish because of how grueling the course can be; it was gnarly. Luckily for us the car came back from Parker with minor issues which made prepping for the mint easier. It allowed us to put a new race radio in and to build a new front bumper to look good for the Mint. Garett and Dylan started off the line next to 1724 in row 2. Rob Seubert is a hell of a driver and after last race we knew it wasn't going to be easy to get around him. Rob beat us off the line but we weren't going to let off the rear of his bumper. We both went past 1741 together. We start rubbing doors as we come up on 1780 fast, we thought we had enough room on rob but tag the front of his jeep with the back corner of the car. We passed 1780 for the lead, with rob on our tail, and we start giving the car 100%. As we work through all the mangled up cars that started ahead of us, we found a pace that wasn't beating up the Jeep. About 15 miles from the quarry, we snagged a good size rock on the front diff. We didn't get out to check it until we rolled through pit B where the guys gave us thumbs up that we were good! We made it to main pit and felt a little steering vibration, but luckily Conrad & Corey from 3713 checked out the front end to find a jam nut came loose. They tightened it up and we were on our way to make our second lap. A banked corner caught us off guard and sent us into a bicycle, but we saved it. Unknown to us we ripped off a brake line which caused us to hit a square edge at appx. 35 mph. It sent us up and into a crazy landing but we kept the car on all 4 tires. At pit A, the team did an amazing job to get us fueled and to figure out the brakes in just under 6 minutes. JJ and I would have little brakes till about race mile 50 when we got all pressure back. Then we hauled ass straight to the finish. For a 25 year old car that is older than me, she still gets with it. Thank you to everyone that came out to support and help us get to the finish. And a big thanks to Mike Barnett and Clive Skilton for making Jeepspeed such a fun series to run!”
Second in Jeepspeed Challenge was 1772, Tim Martin. “It's been a while since I raced the jeep,” said Tim, “I had a year and 3 months to get it prepped and in typical fashion, I was still fixing something the week before. Tech and contingency went better than ever. Parking was great, registration easy, and tech effortless because they let us actually drive the jeep. Getting to the driver’s meeting at 6:00 proved to be the most difficult thing of the day. After the meeting, we ended up doing final preparations in the dark at the pit. No big deal, we were finally ready to race. We lined up next to 1785 Mark Kammerlohr for the start. He got the jump on me and we just let them set the pace until we hit the long straight away heading to the California state line. We passed them and another jeep heading toward the bridge. The jeep felt great, but seemed to be running rich. Right before Pit A, we hit a small Yucca tree going around several vehicles stuck in the main line. This changed the steering a little bit and also damaged the radiator which we didn’t realize until we got to the main pit. We jockeyed for position with 1741 Kyle Gieselmann several times. They fought hard to keep their position so I lost a lot of time in their dust. Finally we got a good run on them on the paved road before the quarry and passed them. The jeep developed a backfire issue and then overheated as we raced across the dry lake bed. I was thinking it needed a new temp sensor as we came into the main pit. My pit crew jumped to work as we came to a stop and quickly discovered there was a hole in the radiator. I jumped out and grabbed the alumaseal out of the door. We dumped it in along with 2 gallons of water. We fueled the truck, and I ate a turkey roll before we were off. I was told 1793 Garett Allred was 18 minutes ahead of us before we started repairs. I was doubtful that we could catch him unless he had a problem. The goal was to hold 2nd place. With less traffic to deal with, we picked up the pace. We never saw 1793 all day, but we crossed the finish line in 2nd place. I’ll take 2nd place for our first race of the year; that’s a good result. I can’t wait for the Silver State 300. It was a good race weekend. I even had time to go with my family to see the Blue Man Group. Thanks to my family and friends for being my main pit crew for this race and Shetler and Guidinger for letting me pit at A and B with them. Thanks to my sponsors JAZ Products, Oneway Transmissions, and Full-Traction Suspension, and thanks to Jeepspeed, General Tires (the new X3s are awesome), and KMC Wheels for supporting a class for all of us to race.”
Number 1720 Jimmy Perry, was third. “Race Morning all was well,” said Perry. “The chase teams were organized, our new navigator ready, the car was ready, and I was ready. We left the line 5th out of 10, and by the blend I was all alone; we never saw the car that started beside us until around race mile 15. In some big rollers I went past the bicycle stage, which I can always save, and landed on the passenger side. As all the Jeepspeed cars went by, I was starting to get concerned that we could be out of the hunt, we had been sitting there for almost 15 minutes at this point. Thankfully 1785 Mark Kammerlohr stopped and tried to help, but just couldn't get it pulled over. We sent him along and repositioned the tow strap. Next 1788 Mark Murrell stopped and got us on the tires. We changed a flat and looked at the suspension for another 5 minutes, then charged on to pit A. We spent about 15 minutes there making repairs and adjustments to get back in the game. That was the last stop we made for anything other than fuel. I got back in my zone and charged back to third place. It appears our engine woes are a thing of the past; this little straight 6 gets with the program now.”
In the Jeepspeed Cup Modified Class (2700), Mike Shetler took his second straight win with Mike Hames finishing in second. “This was the only race I’ve ever had where I didn’t unbuckle my seatbelts the entire time,” said Shetler, “It’s great to have a perfect race. We battled with 2727 Miguel Alvarado all day. We would get ahead in the tight stuff, and the fast stuff, but he was faster in the rough sections. We noticed a noise coming from the engine but when we stopped at pit 1 they told us it was only an exhaust gasket. I was racing with my son, my brother, and my nephew. We were short on people to man all the pits so 2784 Chris Clark, 2777 Wayne Guidinger, and 1772 Tim Martin all pooled our crews together to make sure we had a full crew at every pit. It’s amazing how everyone comes together to help their fellow Jeepspeed competitors. I was going across the lakebed and reached for the transfercase shifter. It came off in my hand and shifted into 4 low. We had to get to pit 2 in low range. Nick Hricziscse jumped under the truck there and shifted us back into high range. We caught back up to Miguel and had a fun, tight battle with him until pit 2 on lap 2. We both pitted at the same time and I urged my crew to get us out ahead of him. I was looking forward to a fight to the end, but he didn’t pull out of the pits with us. We lost power and started to run bad after we blew a hole in our exhaust header but we limped it into the finish for the win. It was fun battling with all the Jeepspeed’s that were racing. We had a fun time racing together as a family. Jeepspeed is the best family class out there.”
Jeepspeed Outlaws Unlimited Class 3700 winner Billy Bunch, 2nd place 3714 Scott Dzierzanowski, and 3rd place 3711 Eric Sigwing had to overcome the challenge from 10 other unlimited trucks racing. “I was so excited to get out there with such a big class racing,” said Jesse Archer, who was driving for Bunch.
“We started next to 3739 Will Heaton. I got the inside line coming into the first right hand corner. Heaton apexes the corner and comes right over into us, damn Rookies, Bunch said with a laugh. It was fun; I've got the mark on my door panel that shows how close we were. Heaton and I were balls out through the infield passing 5-6 cars.
After the bridge, I knew the road funnels down into the uphill wash and I wanted to be there first. Three of us drag race up the straight away and Heaton checks up on the truck. I smash the throttle wide open and am able to get around the outside of them both. We almost had our day ended going up the wash. We're running about 70 uphill with a little UTV sitting on the right. Right as I'm coming by him he reverses it back into the course. I don't know how we missed him, Ryan and I both puckered up waiting for impact. That guy had an angel save him as we would have torn the whole back of his car off. From there we keep a fast pace picking off car after car. The 3722 Dan Simonson was the 2nd fastest car next to Heaton.
It took us a few miles to get by him safely. At race mile 21 we passed 3712 Mike Bragg for the lead.
On the Jean lake bed heading back I'm only hitting 90's; somethings up, I tell my Co Dog. As we start coming across the pole line road towards the bridge, now I'm at 45mph, when I should be at 85. We're losing the Trans! In the infield I was down to 11mph and I'm beating the steering wheel. We limped into main still in the lead, and start ripping the car apart and find a trans cooler line blown. We did a quick rebuild of the hose, a driver change, and a tire change. We had 19 minutes down time, plus being slow the last 10 miles. Bob Keeran was in for the second lap with Craig Johnson co riding. Bob pulled out 3rd physically on road. I knew with Bob and Craig, if they got the 3749 around like it can, they'd have no issue getting back up front. I am a little jealous as Bob had clean air and was able to get the 3749 up to 113 across the lakebed. They did a hell of a job getting the 3749 back out front. Right before the finish line we wanted to get Billy in the Car. We got permission from the Best In The Desert officials and they watched us put him in right before the stadium. Billy took the 3749 across the Line for the win. It was Back to Back wins at The Mint 400 for us. I never would have dreamed any of this would be possible. All the hard work, dedication, and passion that this team has is truly humbling. I can't wait to get back out there and rub some more with Will. That Jeep he has is one bad machine. Once he gets some more seat time and suspension tuning done, he will be a podium contender, no doubt.”
Jeepspeed racers left it all in the desert at the Mint 400 because the rich contingency program in the Jeepspeed series includes special bonuses paid by the sponsor bringing you each race. A $500 bonus was paid to each class winner by Rugged Radios at the Mint 400. In addition, Southwest Boulder & Stone gives $500 bonuses to winners at every race. Tuff Stuff 4X4 gives offroad accessory products to the winners of each class at each race. NEO Synthetic Oil supplies a case of oil for a win with their decal in place, and Action Sports Canopies will be giving away a canopy for the overall Jeepspeed champions at the end of the season. The support for the Jeepspeed series by sponsors General Tire, KMC Wheels, Currie Enterprises, Action Sports Canopies, Southwest Boulder & Stone, GG Lighting, Jasper Racing Engines, NEO Synthetic Oil, Rugged Radios, Tuff Stuff 4X4, Rock Krawler Suspension, King Shocks, and T&J Performance is responsible for many of the team’s strong performances.