Jean, NV – Jeepspeed racers lined up for the final time in 2013 to find out who was fastest and to crown their champions. The field would be made up of those trying to hold on to the points lead they had accumulated, racers who were only points away from overtaking another spot and some with nothing to lose that could go all out for the win. It was a cat and mouse game. If they got caught, the racers had to make a quick determination; do I let the truck pass or fight it out?
The course for the sixth and final event of the Jeepspeed series would be two eighty-mile loops, adding to the sense of urgency. Best In The Desert spent hours blading to get it flat but it still contained enough pitfalls to take someone out who wasn’t paying attention. Despite the weather conditions, it was going to be a fast paced race. Cold winter weather descended on race day that included high winds, sleet and snow flurries.
With the rising sun still low in the sky, each competitor set out to execute his or her strategy. During the General Tire season, 34 Jeepspeed teams have lined up to race, 27 in the General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge class presented by ATX Wheels and 7 in the General Tire Jeepspeed Cup presented by ATX Wheels. The time spent designing, building and preparing their Jeeps and every mile logged behind the wheel got them to this point. Only 160 miles of twisty washes, rocky mountain passes and their fellow competitors stood in their way.
Jeepspeed Cup racers Brandon Berge and Bob Mamer have been locked in a battle for the top spot all year. After 5 events they were separated by only 7 points. The two would leave the starting line side by side, in a drag race to get the lead at the first corner. With the dirt still damp, dust was not an issue. The first five miles of the course had several race lines available. As they darted from one line to another they swapped the lead back and forth.
As they got into some steep terrain the Turbocharged engine in Bob Mamer’s Jeep Cherokee pick-up allowed him to pull out a slight lead. When they started downhill on a narrow twisty trail Brandon Berge let it all hang out and closed the gap. He went wide in a corner, smacked some rocks and cut the sidewall of his tire. They jumped out and changed it quickly thinking they had just thrown the race away. They came around the bend several turns later to find Bob Mamer rolled over. He had been pushing the envelope also. “The rest of our race went flawless,” says Brandon, “The shocks, motor, General Tires, everything worked perfectly. The pit crew gave us a smokin’ fast refuel. We drove through rain, wind, snow, hail and rainbows… It was incredible!! What a great victory. Even though we didn’t clinch the championship, back to back wins at the Henderson 250 feels pretty good!!”
Bob Mamer was down but not out. He was righted by Team Canidae who stopped to help and made it to the finish in second place with enough points to clinch the championship. “I want to thank my co-driver Mark Cowan for all his help getting it going after the crash,” said Bob, “Farm Boyz racing helped us all year with help and support. It feels great to be the champion; Jeepspeed puts on a great series.”
In the General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge class, Todd Jackson was sitting in the lead coming into the race but the top five all had a shot at claiming the title. 7th place in the standings Skyler Gambrell would need to win and have Jackson and some of the others drop out to take the championship, a long shot but stranger things have happened. Skyler gave it his best shot, taking the win but the leaders; Jackson, Eric Heiden and Dustin Hoffman all finished the race. “We had a great race,” says Skyler, “We could run aggressive, we were farther back in the points. Todd Jackson ran a fast pace but he had to finish, we were going all out for the win (his second in a row). My co-driver Harry Wagner never got out of the Jeep, we had no flats, no issues; it feels great to get another win. We are looking forward to next season. We are building something to race next year that nobody has seen before.”
The fast pace that Todd Jackson was running was good for second place at the finish. “Our plan was to stay with Eric Heiden,” said Todd, “He was right behind us in the championship. We let Mortis and Davidson go by us, they were running a faster pace. At mile 20 we saw Eric pulled over; that allowed us to get by. With Eric behind us there was no need to make any mistakes. We kept passing other Jeeps and by the second lap we were 4th. We passed Dustin Hoffman in the whoops putting us third with Tim Martin right on our tail. He got around us but then had some trouble; we finished second. The last 30 miles I don’t think Mike nor I said a single word to each other. When we crossed the line we lost it; it was a great day for sure! Ike Slater prepped a great truck for us all year. We finished every mile of every race. Without him this championship would have never happened.”
Tim Martin’s problem was a small oil leak that caused some smoke in the cockpit. “The oil leak was minor,” said Tim, “After we figured out we weren’t on fire we kept going. The biggest issue we had was on the drive to the race; our tow truck died on the way down. It was great to end the season with a podium. We are going to do some work on the Jeep before next season. We want to get some more power from the engine and do some suspension mods to carry more speed in the whoops.” Dustin Hoffman finished 4th and Eric Heiden took the 5th place spot.
Todd Jackson and Bob Mamer are probably relieved that the season is over. Some wish it would never end but everyone got all the bargained for in the General Tire Jeepspeed series presented by ATX Wheels in 2013. They experienced the longest race in the US, Vegas to Reno, short course style action in Parker at the Blue Water Challenge and everything in between.
The freedom to build your own vehicle to race in the series was exhibited by Cherokee XJ series, Grand Cherokee ZJ series, Grand Cherokee WJ series and Wrangler TJ series trucks all being raced during the year. With strong support that will continue in 2014 from General Tire, ATX Wheels, RDM Offroad, Howe Performance, Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, TJ Performance Center, Baja Designs, Rubicon Express, G2 Axle & Gear, Smittybilt & PAC Racing Springs, the series gets better every year. Due to Jeepspeed’s sponsors entry fees are only 700 dollars regardless of race mileage run. The Jeepspeed series is the most challenging, the most competitive and the most fun you will ever have.
Awards will be given out and a celebration of the season will be held Sat. Jan 11th at Moreno’s Mexican Restaurant 4328 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869…all are welcome.
Would you like join us in 2014? Go to www.jeepspeed.com to see how you can race with Jeepspeed.