Fortunes Shift For UTV Racers At Vegas To Reno, The Longest Off-Road Race In the U.S.
The Best in the Desert series’ Vegas to Reno race is the longest off-road race in the United States. It travels through 540 miles of gravel, silt, and thanks to recent rains, exposed rocks and deep ruts. Racers hoped the rains would knock down the dust but it was thicker than ever. The winds blew straight down the course, making it difficult to see the hazards. The limited vision caused many to have issues throughout the long day, and for some, it was a long night of racing.
Cognito Racing’s Justin Lambert and Justin Sheakley overcame early issues in their Cognito Polaris to take the victory after 13 hours of racing. In the first half of the race, they were the pursuers. As the miles went by, they fought back to the front and soon became the pursued. They ripped off the skid plate, had to stop to untangle from another UTV’s bumper, and lost precious time in the pits changing a steering rack. When they passed the leader at mile 510, they got “on the pipe” to finish first on the road, and 8 minutes ahead of second place on corrected time.
The UTV they passed at mile 510 was the S3 Powersports Can-Am driven by Dustin Jones. He and co-driver Shane Dowden had led most of the day but lost a transmission when an unseen rock pushed their skid plate up into the filler plug that caused the fluid to escape. They looked to have their second win of the season in hand, but like so many the terrain took them out.
Second-place finishers were the Murray Brothers Justin and Derek. They were fresh off another second place at the SCORE International Baja 500. That makes back-to-back podiums in 500-mile races for the pair. Their new ITP, Lone Star Racing Can-Am has shown to be fast and is consistently out front.
Rounding out the podium was Brandon Schueler and Blake Van De Loo. It was their second race on the new BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 tire designed specifically for UTVs. According to Schueler, the tire has all the performance of the original KR but with much less weight. It helped the team’s top speed on the long, fast sections and is a little quicker out of the hole when you need to make a pass.
Vegas to Reno is always a tough race due to the mileage, but this year’s course was especially rough and dusty. The teams that pushed through their problems and overcame their setbacks were rewarded in the end.
Class 1900 UTV Results
1. Justin Lambert - #1918
2. Jason Murray - #1917
3. Brandon Schueler - #1919
4. Ben Wilson - #1927
5. John Angle - #1921
6. Craig Scanlon - #1931
7. Dodge Poelman - #1962
8. Cory Sappington - #1904
9. Logan Gastel - #1969
10. Cole Wilson - #1924