Alamo, NV – After the pounding everyone took at the brutally tough Mint 400, Jeepspeed racers headed north for the Best in the Desert Silver State 300. The Silver State race uses a point to point course through the hills and valleys of Northern Nevada. Held mostly on fast fire roads, there is hardly a whoop the entire way. It gave competitors a chance to open up their Jeepspeeds for some high speed running. When the course is rough and technical truck set-up and a driver’s ability to push the limits without breaking determine the winner. When the course is fast, everyone is fast. With higher speeds, any mistake is amplified. An excursion off course put you in rocks and trees or off a cliff on a majority of the 300 miles run. Thick dust caused by trucks running nose to tail at full speed hung over the course making it difficult to overtake. Jeeps that made it through the mountains, the river crossings and the long flat valleys still had to navigate miles of deep powdered silt that can swallow a truck in seconds.
14 Jeeps lined up for the General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge presented by ATX Series Wheels, (6 cylinder Jeep SUVs with limited modifications). In the General Tire Jeepspeed Cup presented by ATX Series Wheels, (open class for Jeep, Dodge, & Mopar SUVs/Trucks) it was a dogfight between Brandon Berge and Bob Mamer. Bob was off the line first followed by Brandon 30 seconds later. Bob Mamer has had a lock on the competition in the Jeepspeed Cup winning the first two races of the season. Brandon was 4th at the season opener then 3rd at the Mint; he was looking forward to his duel with the points leader Mr. Mamer.
“It was a bit dusty, just a slight breeze,” said Brandon, “We closed on Bob but could not get past. At mile 50, a truck that was stuck on course got going again cutting in just in front of us. We had to follow the slower truck through the mountains.” To make matters worse, the truck stalled again forcing Brandon to push him off the course so he could squeeze past. “We stopped for a quick gas and go at pit two and took off to reel in Bob,” said Brandon, “We got past him when he pulled in at pit 3. We never saw him the rest of the day.” It wasn’t entirely smooth sailing for Brandon and co-rider Joe Reyes, their shift linkage acted up causing them to run in second gear until they made it to the next pit for repairs. The crew got it fixed quickly but Bob Mamer had closed to within 8 minutes. “We put the pedal to the metal the rest of the way,” says Brandon, “We got the Cup win and the Jeepspeed overall. It was a great day for the entire BergeReyesRacing team.”
The General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge winners Todd Jackson and Mike Slater were a total longshot but only due to the obstacles they had to overcome. They rolled their Jeepspeed at the Mint 400 requiring the body to be cut off and replaced in the few weeks between races. On a course that was very difficult to overtake on, they would start 12th off the line. Their WJ was repaired but soon into the race they discovered a few glitches. “The truck started to cut out when the rpm’s dropped so I had to constantly keep the engine revved up,” said Todd, “When I pushed the talk button on my radio it would kill the motor so I just turned it off and told Mike to take care of everything on the radio.” This would turn out to be a valuable asset to Mike as he managed his driver. He kept Todd on an even pace making good time while saving the truck. They passed multiple trucks in the pits and a few on the course as they moved all the way up the ladder into the lead. It was only after they passed Rick Randall at mile 200 that Mike told Todd he was in the lead. “I was totally surprised we were leading,” said Todd, “It did not seem that we passed that many trucks. The last section was a mess. I tried to stay out of the ruts in those deep silt beds. If you fell in… it would be ugly.” The two made it through without incident to take their first win of the season.
Second place went to Rick Randall who started 5th and had the physical lead until overtaken by Todd Jackson. He battled power steering issues all day requiring stops at pits 3 through 7. “We made good time despite all the stops we made,” said Rick, “It was tough without power steering. At mile 210, I hit a rock that I just could not avoid. My Rubicon Express Long Arm suspension took the abuse but It gave us two flats on the right side, that’s when Todd passed us. Huge thanks go out to our Randall Racing crew and Baja Pits for keeping us going all day with fast stops.” Rick drove the entire last section of the course without power steering to take the runner up spot.
Robert Seubert, driving the first section for Tom Richardson, had a crazy encounter with #1718 Brian Davidson that was probably common on a course where it was so hard to pass. “They blew a left hand corner wide and I tried to get them on the inside in the pine forest area that was very, very narrow, “ said Robert, “I clipped a big tree limb with the driver pillar and my passenger mirror was ripped off on their rear quarter, I had to back off but was still on their bumper. Then they blew a right hand corner, dipped the left wheels in the ditch and launched out violently, landing on the right side; they nearly rolled it. I could have counted the pan bolts on their transmission; I got a really good look at the bottom of that car. Tom and I couldn’t believe it came back down on all four wheels. Not sure if they hurt something in that episode, or just scared the hell out of them, but they pulled over and let us by.” Tom took over driving for the second half of the race. They crossed the line in third but Eric Helgeson got them on time dropping them to fourth. “Tom and I drove it hard,” said Robert, “We completely wore out the front tires! It was very fun to be in the hunt all day.”
The Silver State race is just a tune up for Vegas to Reno that will go through some of the same areas. Vegas to Reno will travel an additional 250 miles north. It will be interesting to see what the Jeepspeed racers come up with in strategy and truck set-up after getting a good taste of the terrain they will be racing on August 15-17.