Lake Elsinore, CA – Alumi Craft racers refused to back down during some of the toughest battles on the track at the final race weekend of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series in Lake Elsinore, California. On Saturday the final race of the season took place followed by the no holds barred Challenge Cup races held on Sunday. Saturday was for points; Sunday was for pride and a heap of cash for the top finishers.
The weekend was a real turning point for Justin “Bean” Smith who has been working hard to develop his Alumi Craft Pro Lite truck. He has reached the podium in his truck a couple of times before but this weekend he was able to get very aggressive with the tuning and the truck responded. He finished 2nd on Saturday and had a great race on Sunday. During the cup race he got out front and stayed there. Lap after lap and despite a few cautions Justin clicked off consistently fast laps; nobody could catch him.
Despite RJ Anderson and Sheldon Creed both trying every move in the book including slamming into him, Justin took the win and the big check. “I don’t have the money the big teams do,” said Justin, “When I need something I have to build it myself or fix enough customers’ cars to buy what I need. Our plan was to get out front quick and stay clean. I can’t afford to tear stuff up so I try to drive smart. Our success this weekend was due to our tire selection and some tuning on our FOX shocks. We made some drastic changes and the truck liked it. After we took second on Saturday we knew as a team that we could win it on Sunday.” Justin is no stranger to winning cup races. He took the victory in 2010 behind the wheel of an Alumi Craft Pro Buggy. At the time the Pro Buggies and the Pro Lite trucks raced each other at the same time. With the huge strides he made in Lake Elsinore, 2014 looks very promising for Justin and his Alumi Craft Pro Lite.
In the Pro Buggy class, Alumi Craft racers Dave Mason and Bradley Morris were in a tight battle for second place in the championship. Mason was only 7 points behind Morris going into the final round of racing on Saturday. At the drop of the flag Morris lost no time getting out front early. Mason was busy working his way through traffic up to 4th place. Geoffrey Cooley was running 5th but had Alumi Craft racer Larry Job on his bumper in 6th.
A full course caution came out due to a crash and on the re-start Morris lost the lead. On the following lap Garrett George tried to put a move on Morris for the 2nd spot. George banged wheels hard with Morris sending him wide towards the wall. The contact caused Morris to lose several spots in the running order. This was the break Dave Mason was looking for; he moved up into 3rd; Cooley was running second.
Mason then had his own bad luck spinning in turn three. Alumi Craft racers John Fitzgerald, Larry Job and Sterling Cling all moved up in the order. At the finish it was Geoffrey Cooley in 2nd, John Fitzgerald 3rd, Larry Job 4th and Sterling Cling 5th. Alumi Craft racers took 2nd through 5th. Dave Mason was 7th and Bradley Morris was right behind in 8th. The final points tally is being conducted but it looks like Morris will hold on to 2nd place in the standings with Mason 3rd, Fitzgerald in 4th and Cooley 5th. “My Plan was to finish the season off with a podium so I am real happy we accomplished that,” said Geoffrey Cooley.
Sunday’s Pro Buggy Challenge Cup race was a rough one. The track had tons of water down making it very slick and with $10,000 to win, nobody was holding back. Bradley Morris was the early leader and started to check out until a yellow flag came out. After he restart he went wide in a corner and slid out in the mud collecting Dave Mason as well. The lead then went to John Fitzgerald with Dave Mason 3rd. Fitzgerald developed transmission problems with the car jumping out of gear. Dave Mason then assumed the lead. As they diced up front, Geoffrey Cooley was making his way through the field despite a flat left front tire. After yet another yellow flag, Dave Mason lost the lead on the restart. After running out front for most of the race he would have to settle for 2nd. Larry Job was 3rd, Geoffrey Cooley 4th and Andy Zipperer 5th. Alumi Craft racers took 2nd through 7th for the second day in a row.
As the field crossed the line John Fitzgerald was involved in a horrible wreck. He was limping on the final lap with transmission problems when another competitor slammed into the back of him going off a huge jump. The other car landed on top of him causing them to crash violently and ripping the engine completely out of the car. John was a little sore but otherwise ok despite the horrible crash. “I have had no time to set my Alumi Craft car up this season,” said John, “I live in Nebraska and keep the car out here. I was looking forward to spending some time getting the car dialed in during the off season, now I will have some more work to do. At least the chassis kept me safe and I will be able to fix the car and be back better than ever to start next season. Alumi Craft has been a huge help to me all season. They are always there with the right advice when I need it.” Despite no testing or tuning except at the track John was able to take 4th place in the Pro Buggy championship standings.
Alumi Craft racers have proven again and again the superior performance provided by their meticulously crafted cars. Whether you are racing in the desert, prerunning or competing on the track, Alumi Craft is committed to providing you with a competitive, safe and reliable vehicle that exceeds your expectations. If you demand the best, give Alumi Craft a call at 619-596-9841 or go to: http://alumicraft.info/ to find out more about our race products and services.
Photography By Brian Binkert