Trail-Gear arrived on the lakebed almost a week before the big race to make their final tweaks and get the car fully dialed in. A 9th place finish at last year’s King of the Hammers proved that the 4-cylinder, Ecotec powered engine at the heart of the #17 Trail-Gear Godspeed buggy had what it took to be a contender at the toughest off road race in the world.
“I’ll drive fast enough to put that fire out.” Those were the words of Matt Messer, owner of Trail-Gear, regarding concerns of a potential fire if any race fuel were to spill onto the turbo during refueling in the pits. It was obvious that their only options were to win or break trying. Starting at the middle of the pack in 44th position meant having to reel in a large number of other racers to move into contention.
Trail-Gear took the jump off the line and raced into what would be a high speed, low visibility first lap. The winds were low at The Hammers and the dust was like a dense fog that just wouldn’t evaporate.
Gary Feravanti limped into the pits halfway through the race on with only 1/2 of a rim on one corner and 4WheelParts owner, Greg Adler, sat for ages waiting for tire changes and other adjustments. It was nerve wracking to think what shape the Godspeed buggy might be in.