The Vegas-to-Reno race is hot, tough, silty, dusty, and long – marathon long. We knew this going in. We had spent countless nights prepping the car for the longest off-road race in the United States. We went through the motor, the transfer case, the front and rear ends, and the springs and shocks. We thought we had a great shot at the race.

We had a field of 10 cars in our class, and we drew the seventh spot. We all staged at the start line in the small town of Beatty, about 120 miles outside of Vegas. Instead of the usual pre-race joking and light-hearted banter between competitors, there was an almost apprehensive atmosphere. There was little small talk. It was as if everyone knew the battle that lay ahead, and no one wanted to admit that they were nervous.

As soon as the green flagged dropped, we realized our first problem. We had a shortened test session due to some other issues and couldn’t spend the time to sort everything out. Our new motor had no power. It wouldn’t pull the RPMs we needed. We had the wrong camshaft. It was supposed be the same as our old one, but it must have been misboxed and we didn’t double-check it.

Our second problem came at the same time as the first. The temp gauge started rising at an alarming rate. We were five miles into a 500-mile race and we were running at 230 degrees. We backed off the throttle and the temp came down a little. We now had a new race strategy: run super-conservative and save the motor. The plan was working as we gradually picked off other racers that were also experiencing issues.

Mark (Sparky) Linder and I nursed the car to mile 160 (in fourth place), where we turned it over to first-time driver Dylan Cochran and veteran co-driver Josh Reiter. After a short 30-mile stint, the two drivers swapped seats and headed to pit 8 at the 260-mile mark. When the car arrived, it was hot. We cooled the radiator, added water, changed plugs, cleaned the air filter, and topped it off with gas.

As we began to clean up and put away our supplies, the call came across the radio: “We are stopped two miles out. There is a hole in the side of the motor and a connecting rod is hanging out.” As a failed attempt at humor during a most heartbreaking moment, I asked “Is that important?” There was no reply from the drivers.

So, we lick our wounds, we go back and make it better, we try again, and we will overcome. We slipped from first place in the points standings to second. We are still in the hunt for the championship, and once again our Bilstein shocks were flawless. Our Rubicon Express suspension was rock solid. Our General tires were bulletproof and our Rigid lighting was the brightest in the desert. Thanks to all that continue to support our journey.


Special thanks to: