The Henderson “250” marked the end of a great season for the world’s largest off-road racing series, Best In The Desert. With many class championships still yet to be decided, 173 racers showed up to take on the challenging course just south of Henderson, Nevada.
The race was split up into three groups, with the first group of motorcycles, quads and UTV’s starting the day by going two laps on a 45-mile course. The THR Motorsports team of Robby Bell and David Pearson, with Pearson doing solo duties this weekend, took the overall and open pro motorcycle win. This also secured the season class championship for them. Nick Nelson and Keith Carlson captured the victory in pro quad class and Matt Parks claimed the Pro UTV class win.
The second group featured the limited car and truck classes running two laps on an 80-mile course. First overall and first in the sportsman class went to Jason Voss in a Ford Trick Truck. Coming in only 3-minutes behind the unlimited powered truck was Bryan Folks for second overall and the Class 1100 victory in his Ford powered Banning Motorsports buggy. The win also sealed the class championship for Bryan, capping off an amazing season besting his nearest competitor by 91 points. Third overall and first in Class 2000 was Hank Winter. This win also wrapped up the class championship for Winter. Other racers winning their class along with a year-end championship included Steve Alexander in his bright yellow KC HiLiTES Baja bug for Class 5000 and Tim Casey driving his Ford F-250 in Class 8100 for stock full-size trucks.
The third and final race of the day featured Best In The Desert’s fastest classes. These racers ran three laps over the 80-mile course. This race also featured the tightest battle for a class championship in the Trick Truck ranks. Four drivers mathematically had a chance championship, but it mostly came down to a duel between Steve Sourapas and Mark Weyhrich. Sourapas’ co-driver, Rob MacCachren did the driving duties for the Time Trials between the Trick Trucks and Class 1500 cars to determine the top starting positions. Rob Mac ended up with the fastest qualifying time and took home the $1000 “Team Ford” Pole award and being able to start off the line first in clean air. Sourapas also decided to not risk the added pit time necessary for a driver change during the race and leave MacCachren in for the distance. Mark Weyhrich didn’t fare so well in qualifying and ended up in the 15th starting position, 10th Trick Truck. That put him seven rows back from MacCachren and left him with a lot of traffic and dust to battle through to the front.
Coming into the Henderson race, Mark Weyhrich held an 11-point lead over the Sourapas truck in the points chase. If MacCachren was able to turn his first starting spot into a win, Mark would have to finish no worse than second to keep the points lead. Both MacCachren and Weyhrich were piloting Geiser Bros. built Ford trucks, so it really came down to a battle for the Trick Truck championship between two very competitive, talented and determined race drivers.
From start to finish, Rob MacCachren held the physical lead. However, on the second lap he fell to second on corrected time behind the Lloyd Sproule truck driven by Dale Dondel. On the third and final lap, Dondel fell out with mechanical issues and MacCachren regained the lead and crossed the finish line taking the Trick Truck win. MacCachren sat parked on top of the Ford Mesa waiting to see how the overall victory and championship would unfold. Second across the line, about four and half minutes behind MacCachren, was the Class 1500 car of NASCAR truck series driver, Justin Lofton. That handed the overall win to Rob. While Mark Weyhrich charged forward through the traffic, he was never able to get around Shawn Croll, the lone truck standing between him and MacCachren. This put him 3rd in class and handed Rob MacCachren the 2012 Trick Truck championship.
At the finish line a disappointed Weyhrich stated, “This win is like sour grapes about the ‘drop your worst race’ deal. If not for that we would be the champions, but to get second place to Rob Mac is cool.” Ironically, both Weyhrich and Sourapas had the same amount of points on their throwaway races, so it really didn’t matter. He finished with 570 points to 573 for Steve Sourapas. It doesn’t get any closer than that. However, Mark Weyhrich didn’t completely lose out as he did win the Camburg “Best In The Desert” award for having posted the fastest average speed for the combined total of 2026 miles of racing for the year. Mark’s impressive 57 MPH average was 3 MPH faster than the next competitor’s who just happened to be Steve Sourapas.
In Class 1500 action, Robby Gordon was shooting for both the class and Best In The Desert Grand Championship. At the time trials, Robby received a time penalty for hitting a cone and had to settle for a 16th starting spot. He started out strong as always, but on the first lap suffered electrical issues and was towed back to the main pit for troubleshooting. Garrick Freitas took the lead and was looking at a big upset. If Freitas could finish first and Gordon not finish, he would take the year-end crown. However, Gordon’s crew was able to change what turned out to be a faulty engine sensor and get him back in the race. Freitas ended up finishing 2nd in class and Gordon salvaged a 12th place class finish. That was good enough to give Gordon the championship.
In other classes, Philip Heynen took the Class 1000 win, but Tony Smiley’s 2nd place secured the class championship for him by 4 points. Macrae Glass took top honors in Class 8000 in his KC sponsored Ford truck along with the championship. The Ford truck of Sean Backus beat out the KC Ford of Randy Merritt for both the Class 7200 win and championship. Troy Vest was the final finisher of the race. However, his 3rd place in class was good enough to earn him the Class 1200 Protruck championship.
As the dust settled under the moon-lit night at the 2012 Henderson “250”, racers were headed out to celebrate and already talking about the 2013 season. Best In The Desert’s 2013 race series for the car and truck classes is already looking to be even bigger than this year’s. It gets started with the legendary Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker “425”, February 1-3, 2013 in Parker, Arizona. Mark it down in your calendar, it’s going to be a huge event.
Best In The Desert Car & Truck 2012 Class Champions:
Class 1000 – Tony Smiley
Class 1100 – Bryan Folks
Class 1200 – Troy Vest
Trick Truck – Steve Sourapas
Class 1500 – Robby Gordon
Class 2000 – Hank Winter
Class 3000 – Nic Bayes
Class 4400 – Bill Bunch
Class 5000 – Steve Alexander
Class 6000 – Troy Messer
Class 6100 – Jim Riley
Class 7100 – James Burman
Class 7200 – Sean Backus
Class 8000 – Macrae Glass
Class 8100 – Tim Casey
Best In The Desert 2012 Grand Champions (awarded to the highest total points per vehicle type):
Car/Truck – Robby Gordon
UTV – Scott Kiger
Motorcycle – Robby Bell
Quad – Juan Dominguez
Best In The Desert 2012 Rookie of the Year:
Tim Scott, Class 1000
Camburg “Best In The Desert” (fastest average speed for all races):
Best In The Desert official sponsors: Ford Motor Company – official truck, General Tire – official tire, Lucas – Official Oil, VP Racing Fuels – official fuel, KC HiLiTES – official light, John Deere – official UTV, Beta – official motorcycle, FabTech – Official Suspension, Fall Advertising, Prerunner Maniac, McKenzies, PCI Race Radios, and Sportsman Cycle Sales.
The American Off-Road Racing Series…Best In The Desert!
Further information available at www.bitd.com