RENO, NEV. – The days leading up to his TORC Pro-Light Championship race in Lancaster, Calif. on Sept. 29, Brad Lovell was where he can usually be found before each short-course race – stationed at his Torchmate 4X4 CNC machine, fabricating race components to ready his Pro-Light rig for the off-road battle of its life.
The season of hard work in the garage paid off in the biggest week of Brad Lovell’s racing career, when, fresh off of being crowned Ultra-4 Pro champion, he backed it up with his first-ever TORC Pro-Light series championship at the Lancaster racetrack.
Lovell’s dual championships highlight the partnership between Lovell and his four-year sponsor Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems – a relationship that is integral to the performance of Lovell’s race truck. For Lovell, Torchmate has become much more than a logo on his race jumpsuit. The 4X4 Torchmate CNC Cutting table stationed in his garage is the central piece of equipment that puts race-specific modifications, repairs and upgrades at the champion off-roader’s fingertips before each race.
“It is such a valuable tool,” said Lovell, who is based in Colorado Springs. “Once you start using it, you can’t imagine life without it.”
Lovell said his championship season took an all-in investment from race team members and sponsors.
“It takes commitment from companies like Torchmate,” said Lovell. “You can’t come out with $500,000 and buy a championship. You have to work with the team and companies that can give you a leg up on the competition.”
All season Lovell built panels, wheel spacers, tabs, brackets, aluminum sheeting and dash components for his race truck on his Torchmate machine, prototyping everything to his own exacting specifications. Lovell used the machine to work on both his Pro-Light truck and his Ultra-4 Pro rig. The two vehicles have different fabricating needs, and Lovell ends up cutting a lot of panels and aluminum sheeting to repair race damage on his Pro-Light truck while using the machine to increase durability on his Ultra-4 Pro vehicle.
“The versatility of the machine is key,” said Lovell. “We switch from aluminum to steel in all different thicknesses all the time.”
Lovell has raced for Torchmate CNC Cutting Systems for four years. Originally a rock crawling champion, Lovell teamed up with Torchmate General Manager Bill Kunz to desert race and take on demanding competitions like King of the Hammers. He then made his move into short-course racing and the TORC series. The versatility to race and win all variety of off-road competitions has gained Lovell recognition as a fierce competitor and multi-talented threat on a variety of off-road courses.
But despite his success in multiple disciplines, Lovell entered the TORC series as an underdog. Facing talented and heavily sponsored competition, Lovell called the Lancaster race a highlight of his racing career, but also says, “It was the most stressful weekend of my life.”
Lovell entered the race weekend with a five-point lead over rival Andrew Caddell. But he ended up racing a portion of the first race without rear brakes after his brake fluid overheated on the demanding track. Caddell tangled with another truck, flatted and eventually suffered mechanical damage and was forced to DNF.
Even without rear brakes, Lovell raced to a fifth place finish and a 20-point lead for the series championship. He wrapped up the championship with a safe, sixth-place finish in the second race of the day.
“We did an amazing thing,” said Lovell. “A bunch of rock donkeys, a drag racer, and a stock broker won it. In all honesty, the effort to pull this off is nearly unfathomable. My family, the team, our sponsors, volunteers across the country, and everyone who helped us at the track -they are the ones who won this and should be proud! AMSOIL, Nissan, BFGoodrich Tires, Torchmate, Spidertrax, and a whole bunch of sponsors all took a huge gamble on us and we pulled it off.”
Photo by Thom Kingston