With 24 different vehicle classes at The Mint 400, there is a class for everyone. Jeeps were some of the first off-road vehicles raced in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Jeepspeed Class is the evolution of those early off-road machines.
Parker, AZ – When Jeepspeed racers lined up for the Best In The Desert series season opener in Parker, Arizona, they all must have had the same strategy – run flat out and leave the competition in the dust. The Parker 425 is not typically thought of as a sprint race, the course is very challenging, but a new format made a big difference on how the race played out. The limited classes, like Jeepspeed, would run their own race in the morning and the high dollar exotic vehicles would start later in the day. Instead of racing through the ruts and holes caused by 800 horsepower and 39 inch tires, Jeepspeed racers had a smooth course ahead of them. When combined with a certain ease in the air and less concern about the rear view mirror, speeds increased along with calculated risks.
Orange, CA – The General Tire Jeepspeed racing series, presented by KMC Wheels, saw incredible growth in 2015. For 2016, the excitement continues. General Tire is back as Series Sponsor and KMC Wheels has signed a three year commitment as Series Presenting Sponsor in addition to continued sponsorship of the Jeepspeed KMC Wrangler Trophy. As this goes to press, several brand new teams have already committed to joining the KMC Wrangler Trophy series in 2016.
Henderson, NV – Stiff competition in Jeepspeed Cup and Jeepspeed Challenge classes had season long points titles coming down to the wire in the General Tire Jeepspeed Racing series presented by KMC Wheels and Premiere Automotive. The final event was held at the Best In The Desert series Henderson 250 race in Henderson, Nevada. Rock Krawler Racing Developments sponsored the 2015 Jeepspeed Finals in anticipation of their company entering Jeepspeed’s 2016 Series with a new competition approved Jeep Wrangler. The course at the Henderson 250 is deceptively smooth with many long straight sections but the ground is made of loose rocks with a layer of fine silt on top. The rocks kill wheels and tires and destroy drivelines and anything else they come in contact with. The silt blinds the drivers who struggle to make headway when the dust gets so thick. To be successful in Henderson, it takes skill, smarts, a great crew, and a little luck. It doesn’t hurt to be brave and hungry for a win either.
Parker, AZ – Despite the efforts of his General Tire Jeepspeed Challenge competitors, Rick Randall made it four wins in a row at the Best In The Desert Blue Water Challenge race in Parker, Arizona. It was the first time in Jeepspeed’s 14 years of racing that anyone has reached this feat. A two-day, heat race style event had the teams running three laps on a shortened course that contained much of the nastiest sand and deep silt found in Parker. Competitors would have a chance to regroup and make repairs overnight between heats but the race was scored by accumulated times. If you won the first day but failed to finish day two, you were given a DNF (did not finish). The finishing order on Saturday determined the starting order for Sunday’s race. Slightly hotter than usual temperatures of 100 degrees and an almost total lack of a breeze added to the punishment that is typically dished out by the Parker terrain.
Reno, NV – Race four of the General Tire Jeepspeed Series presented by KMC Wheels and Premier Chrysler-Jeep was the Best In The Desert series, Vegas to Reno race. It’s always a huge challenge. The race mileage traversed through Northern Nevada is over 540. Rain squalls the week before the race made it rougher than ever but had no effect on the deep silt beds that trapped everyone at least once. The unlimited cars and trucks create big holes, ruts and deep powdery silt on the course. Jeepspeed racers start later in the day. With 33 inch tires and limited suspension travel, they run a course that is as bad as it gets. That’s why Jeepspeed racers have a special camaraderie unlike any other class of racing. Every team that shows up takes on the challenge willingly and should be commended. The competition was so tight during the race, that the top 4 cars through the first 4 pits had only a 40 second to 1 minute split leaving each pit.
Parker, AZ – Judging by the constant flow of fans and interest of Jeepspeed vehicles on display in both General Tire booths at the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, Ca. the General Tire ATX Wheels Jeepspeed series looks stronger than ever. In 2015, it will offer even more action when the Jeepspeed Wrangler Trophy Series debuts. The Wrangler Trophy series will be run at three stops of the existing 2015 six race Jeepspeed series.
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.
Parker, AZ – The BITD, BlueWater Desert Challenge is a two-day shortcourse style race through the twisty washes and pounding sand of Parker, Arizona. At the previous race, Vegas to Reno, the competitor’s endurance was put to the test; in Parker it was a flat out sprint. Negotiating the technical course was made even harder by the chocking dust that blinded many drivers. Drivers pushed to their Jeeps to the limit trying to get out front in the clean air.
In addition to the cash bonuses provided by Rubicon Express, Smittybilt and G2 Axle & Gear, 14 Jeepspeed Challenge and 3 Jeepspeed Cup competitors would be racing for a special $500 dollar bonus provided by Jim Riley and his Azunia Tequila team.
At Vegas to Reno the Azunia Team had issues with overheating. As they sat on the side of the course several Jeepspeed teams stopped to offer assistance. With their help the Azunia Team was able to make it to the finish after a very long and arduous day. Jim was so impressed by the sportsmanship of the Jeepspeed racers he offered up the bonus money. Since three drivers stopped, Jeepspeed decided to spread the money out giving a share to the top three overall finishers instead.
Las Vegas, NV – The General Tire ATX Wheels Jeepspeed Series took on the longest off road race in the United States, the Best in the Desert General Tire Vegas to Reno race, (V2R). V2R starts in Beatty, Nevada and travels north for 543 miles to the finish in Dayton, Nevada. The mere distances involved are daunting but Mother Nature conspired to make it even more difficult. Many times the rain is a blessing; it can help hold the silt together making it easier to get through normally tough sections. This year’s course still had silt, rocks and ruts as usual but the heavy rains in some sections scoured the ground. It washed the top layer of dirt away to expose all the rocks below. In order to prevail, teams would need determination, guts and a little luck.
Jeepspeed Challenge race winner Todd Jackson had lots of all three. “We had a good race, we had a plan and we stuck to it,” says Todd, “We started third in our Grand Cherokee and eventually got past the other trucks out front. We opened up a big lead, about an hour, so we did some much needed service at pit 14. We changed the air filter, bled the brakes and changed the right front hub. I pulled out of our pit and 100 feet later the steering arm broke. We were lucky it happened right there. The crew had all their tools available to make a quick repair.”