It is well known that the Nevada desert can be just as brutal as racing down in Baja. It will suck you up and spit you out with no forgiveness. The 2014 BITD Vegas To Reno did just that to numerous teams as the 534-mile course was damaged by new rainfall creating sharp rain ruts and pulling down jagged rocks. One thing the rain did not change however was the amount of deep silt that spread through the course like an infection. These obstacles would challenge the Banning team but it wasn’t without a hard fought fight that they would either finish or have to load up.
Parker, AZ – The Best In The Desert racing series visits Parker Arizona two times a year. They hold a 425 mile desert race to kick off their season and come back in the fall for the BlueWater Desert Challenge, a two-day short course style event. The terrain in Parker is very demanding on the racers. It includes rocky sections, deep silt and shifting sands. The 425 mile race demands patience, the BlueWater is a sprint race. Regardless of the challenge, Banning Motorsports always does well in Parker.
The weekend actually began on Thursday when the 1023 qualified for starting position. Unfortunately, they qualified 18th out of 19 class 1000 cars. Gary Williams, Chris Godfrey and Bradley Mcfarlin would have their work cut out for them. Qualifying requires going ten tenths on a short, technical course. The pressure is intense and crashes are common. There is no prize for throwing the car away before the race even starts. Lee Banning Sr. was unable to drive due to eye surgery so Gary Williams was behind the wheel.
Banning Motorsports came away with a big win at the 45th annual Baja 1000. The team took the victory in class 10 and finished an impressive 16th overall; well ahead of many unlimited trucks and buggies. The Baja 1000, considered to be the most grueling off-road race in the world, travelled down the Baja Peninsula 1,121.55 miles from Ensenada on the Pacific Ocean south to La Paz on the sea of Cortez.
The team spent weeks in Mexico prerunning the course, preparing logistics for the race and spreading smiles wherever they went. One special stop for the team was at El Oasis Orphanage in Valle De Trinidad. They handed out a huge amount of food, personal hygiene items, clothing, bicycles and race team shirts for all 50 kids. Banning Motorsports visits the orphanage every year when they head south to challenge the Baja 1000. “We look forward to seeing the kids each year when we visit,” said Lee Banning, “It’s great seeing the smiles on their faces and how much they’ve grown.” The giving continued at contingency before the race when the team handed out over 10 cases of Troop Fuel Energy Drink, team hero cards and T-shirts to a huge crowd of fans.