Jeepspeed racers took time out from battling on the racecourse to honor the top finishers in their series. The General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge presented by ATX Series Wheels is a desert race championship for 6 cylinder Jeep SUVs with limited modifications and the General Tire Jeepspeed Cup presented by ATX Series Wheels is an open class for Jeep, Dodge, & Mopar SUVs/Trucks.

After a highly competitive season that came down to the last race of the series, it was nice to get everyone together to share a meal, a few stories and acknowledge those who achieved top results. The crowd contained Jeepspeed newcomers Dustin Hoffman and Brandon Berge as well as seasoned veterans like Billy Bunch and Eric Heiden. A diverse group of competitors who all share the same desire, to race in a lower cost series that pits the race truck that they build themselves against each other. Jeepspeed is unique because it does not require you to purchase a “spec” vehicle to compete. Jeepspeed racers build their own vehicles to their own design as long as it conforms to the rules. Jeepspeed success depends on great driving in the dirt but also the innovative engineering and fabrication skills that have traditionally set desert racing apart from all others. These are all well-rounded racers who earned their trophies by using many different skills.

Taking the General Tire, ATX Wheels, Jeepspeed Challenge championship and a check for $3000 was Mike Vernak. He wrapped up the title at the last race of the year, the Henderson 250.

He was in a tight, back and forth battle with championship runner-up Eric Heiden and 3rd place finisher Todd Jackson until the very end. In an act of extraordinary sportsmanship, Todd Jackson actually loaned parts to Eric Heiden during the race that allowed Eric to take the runner-up spot. 2012 Champion Mike Vernak was very humble during his acceptance speech but the significance of beating tough competitors like Heiden and Jackson did not go unnoticed.

The General Tire, ATX Wheels, Jeepspeed Cup championship was won by the Veteran, Billy Bunch. Bunch has been racing in Jeepspeed since the series began.

First runner up belonged to Brandon Berge who also won the Coan Brothers, Jeepspeed Rookie of the Year award and the Howe Power Steering, Rookie of the Year award. The third place trophy and title went to Bob Mamer.

There were also awards and prizes won by Ted Holt for long distance, making a 2,000 mile tow from Dacula, Georgia at Vegas to Reno, a cool $500 in the Sunoco Power Ball Draw to Tim Martin, a set of General Tires to Perry Coan and the John W. Skilton Memorial Award that honors Clive’s father to Todd Jackson. The John W. Skilton Award, which goes annually to a Team or Person of outstanding performance, participation or contribution to Jeepspeed. Todd Jackson was selected in part due to his following contributions:

•  Raising the bar in Jeepspeed race vehicle construction, which earned him a DirtSports, Masterpiece in Metal magazine feature.

•  His determination to win and his tireless work in the development of the first WJ Grand Cherokee in the Jeepspeed series.

•  His helping of other racers and competitors by providing parts and labor in their hour of need.

•  Radiating such a positive energy and enthusiasm for the Jeepspeed Desert Racing Series.

Thanks to our sponsors, General Tire and ATX Wheels, the 2012 Jeepspeed rewards totaled over $60,000 in prize money, contingency, championship checks, awards and free products. Subsidized entry fees to all Jeepspeed entrants at six races totaled over $30,000. Prize money paid at the events was $10,400 plus contingencies. The Top 10 Challenge and Top Trio Cup in 2013 will pay subscriptions totaling $1,300. In addition, ATX wheels and General tires given by our series sponsors to 2012 first time Jeepspeeder’s were valued at over $10,000.

There is no need to lament that the 2012 season is behind us. Action will resume at the Best in the Desert, Parker 425 held in Parker, Arizona, on Feb. 2, 2013. Jeepspeed Challenge and Jeepspeed Cup Champions will be determined this season by top finishes in five out of six races in the series. “By working with our sponsors and Best in the Desert, Jeepspeed is able to offer racers the very best entry fees in our sport,” says Clive Skilton, “There will be a set $700 entry fee per race, no matter what the race mileage. With 80 registered teams, there could be 30 starters at each event!” Don’t miss out; make plans to join us in 2013!

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