Corona, CA – The summer break is almost over for most people in the off-road racing world, though the THR Motorsports / Monster Energy / Precision Concepts Kawasaki team certainly hasn’t been on vacation. After its history-making triumph in the 44th Tecate/SCORE Baja 500 in June, the focus switched to the classic BITD General Tire Vegas-to-Reno, and that 534-mile marathon is now upon us with the green flag set to wave at 5:45 A.M. on Friday, August 17, outside of Beatty, Nevada.
The stakes are higher this year for everyone with the introduction of a $10,000 winner-take-all bonus compliments of THR Motorsports, Hoosier Precision Machining, Monster Energy, GPR Stabilizer and Best in the Desert. It doesn’t matter what team or bike or rider–the $10,000 goes to whoever beats everyone else to the finish in Dayton, making this not only the longest off-road race in the U.S. but now the richest.
Baja 500 winners Robby Bell, Steve Hengeveld and David Pearson are the current series points leaders after three of the scheduled five rounds, and with the momentum the trio has built–both individually and as a team–they have to be considered the favorites.
Their stiffest challenge may actually come from another Bob Bell-prepared THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki KX450F, this one ridden by Ricky Brabec and Ty Renshaw (who does double duty in the THR Motorsports race shop as bike-prep coordinator). The winners of round two, the Canidae Tap It Silver State 300, they sit a close second in points, 155-151.
In addition to the two Open Pro teams, THR Motorsports will field an additional Sportsman motorcycle team plus the Class 1500 Unlimited car driven by Mikey Childress (who, of course, won’t be eligible for the $10,000 bonus since he’s in a four-wheeled vehicle). He will be charging hard over the 534 mile course that touches every bit of perilous terrain Northern Nevada has to offer.
Vegas to Reno has many miles of wide open running but also tight twisty sections that are extremely challenging. “I love the technical sections in the mountains,” says Childress, “I like to slide the car around in the tight technical stuff. We made some substantial changes to the car since the last race fitting new 37 inch General Tires on our Method Race Wheels. The larger tires required a gear change and some suspension tuning on our King Shocks but we’re dialed in and ready to rock!”
Mikey and the THR team are in a tough points battle with Robby Gordon in class 1500. Gordon has been on a roll winning three straight but the THR team is right there in the second spot. “I’ve raced Vegas to Reno ten times, it’s always been one of my favorites,” said Mikey, “We are always racing to win but we can’t ignore our place in the championship standings. We have to be aggressive and smart. We are 5-7% faster since the changes were made so we are looking forward to a strong finish.”
Bike Photo By: Mark Kariya
Additonal Photos By: Brian Binkert