After winning their last two races and months of preparation, McMurrough Racing and TJ Flores had their sights set on bringing another win back to the shop. Vegas to Reno, put on by Best In The Desert, is one of the only point to point off-road races that still takes place in the states. The racers and their vehicles compete in temperatures that can reach over 110 degrees, barrel through silt beds that swallow anyone that hesitates, and fly across long grated roads where trucks can reach speeds of 136 mph.
The events for Vegas to Reno began on Wednesday when over 50 Trick Trucks and Class 1’s lined up for qualifying. The 4.2-mile course was marked just on the outskirts of Las Vegas and the tight course would put two Class 1’s starting in top spots. The #80 McMurrough Racing Trick Truck would start Fridays race in the 6th place starting position. TJ would be the 3rd Trick Truck following right behind Jesse Jones and Bryce Menzies.
“We were excited for our starting position. We wouldn’t have too much dust to battle come race day and we just needed to set a good pace and let the race come to us.” -said driver, TJ Flores.
Racing started at sunrise for the dirtbikes, quads and UTV’s. Every racer had 543 miles to conquer. As the race was underway for the early morning classes, McMurrough Racing and the rest of the racers staged for their start time of 9:30am. Casey Folks waited at the start line and at 9:30am sharp he sent off the first Class 1 car of Pat Dean.When 9:32:30am hit the clock, the #80 truck was on the gas chasing down the dust of Bryce Menzies. TJ and co-rider Stephanie Reynolds were staying with the leaders and as they raced passed race mile 67 everyone was still in the same order as they started.
It wasn’t long before passing competitors came into play and the real racing began. The leaders had made their way into the old mining town of Goldfield and into pit 4. The McMurrough Racing pit crew was staged and ready for TJ to come in and swap with fresh tires and top off with fuel. Just a minor issue plagued the truck and they pushed forward to pit 5 where TJ shut the truck off so they could fix a rear axle cap that had come off earlier in the race. When TJ went to start the truck and continue the race, the truck would not refire. The team, TJ, and others were riddled as to why this was happening. Hours had passed and the team still had not a clue as to what was the issue. They changed numerous sensors and replaced wiring. As TJ and Jeremy from Kroyer Racing Engines racked their brains, the answer finally appeared. The cam sensor had failed due to a magnet coming loose and falling out at the pit. Luck would have it that TJ had found the magnet and was holding on to it. After using epoxy to get the magnet back into place, TJ and team were back up and running.
Determination is part of being an off-road racer and every racers goal at the end is to make it to the finish. Whether they win or not, just finishing a race is an accomplishment. Quitting is not an option to most. McMurrough Racing continued on as they passed slower racers and set a steady pace once again.
“At this point we found a good speed and stayed cautious as it got dark. We didn’t want to hit anyone and ruin the race for other teams.” stated TJ.
A flawless second half of the race is just what the team needed and as TJ and Stephanie made their way to the finish line, it had been 13hours and 9minutes since their race started. They reached the finish line just under 4 hours after the leaders, but they finished. TJ and the entire team are thankful for everyone who helped them at pit 5. Jason Voss overalled the race and took the Trick Truck win. Over thirty Trick Trucks started the race and the brutal conditions would only allow twenty to finish. McMurrough Racing finished with an unofficial 14th place.