Jason Voss Wins the 2013 BITD Vegas to Reno
Vegas to Reno may be the granddaddy of the BITD schedule and also holds the title of the longest point-to-point off-road race in the United States, but that’s not all for which it’s known. Those who try to tackle the 550-mile race quickly find that what they have entered into is a battle of will that will test them both physically and mentally.
Best in the Desert’s Casey Folk built a track that featured silt, rocks, more silt and more rocks, which was combined with vast stretches of open desert, mountains, and abandoned mining towns with random grazing cattle sprinkled in between. For most the race is an adventure, but for others it’s a chance at the glory of winning.
From the start the top qualifiers set a blazing pace. Pat Dean and Harley Letner tried to run from the pack but by the 100-mile mark mechanical problems would hinder the charge of both drivers. From there it was a mad dash between Bryce Menzies, Jesse Jones and Jason Voss. In the end, it was Voss who was able to hold onto the top spot.
“We had a good day,” he said at the finish. “We were a little worried at the beginning because of the dust and we knew the there were a few guys in the back of the pack making a charge and closing on us. I felt like I was being a little too patient and I could see the front-runners starting to get away from us. Around the halfway mark things started going well and we were able to pick off several guys who started in front of us. From there we maintained a quick pace and was able to reel the last few enough to take the win.”
Menzies, who recently competed in the rally portion of X Games and even more recently earned two short-course wins in the TORC Series, felt like one got away.
“We had this,” third-place finisher Menzies said. “You know we qualified fifth, and by race mile 150 we were first on the road with clean air. We tried to set an easy pace and cruise but we ended up with a couple of flats, and then we had a bad pit in the midst of all that. We tried to gather back up and make a charge to catch up and I ended up putting the truck on its side. We thought we were done for but Jesse Jones actually hit me and put us back on our wheels. From there we just cruised in so we could finish. I have to say, this course was amazing. It’s long, it’s rocky, it’s dusty, it’s fast, you have mountains, it’s every type of terrain you could want in an off-road race. I can’t wait to come back next year and win it!”
It had been some time since CJ Hutchens had been on the podium, but a hard-fought battle in Class 1500 with Justin Lofton saw him take the top spot.
“We had an almost flawless day,” said a very happy Hutchens at the finish. “Toward the end of the race we started hearing a really bad clanking noise from the rear and it turned out we lost a inner CV boot, so in the last 50 or so miles we had to stop several times to keep putting grease back in it to keep it from failing.”
There were quite a few other notable storyline in relation to who was – or was not – at this year’s Vegas to Reno. Andy McMillin made his way back into a truck after taking the year off from racing to fill in for into the truck at the halfway point.
“Rob MacCachren was supposed to drive but got sick so Steve called me up. Obviously I jumped at the chance to get out here and drive. We had a good run most of the day. I caught two flats, which slowed us down a bit; I was chargin’ pretty hard to catch the leaders. It feels really good being out here, I miss it.”
Newcomer to the series Steven Eugenio started 31st but had an impressive run coming from the back of the pack. He would have finished seventh overall but a one-hour penalty put him in 18th. “Well the Pass Alert system didn’t work for us,” said Eugenio of the new system implemented at this year’s race. “We alerted the truck in front of us over and over for a hundred miles and every time we did he’d jackrabbit; he knew he was caught and holding us up. I gave him a light tap when we rolled through pit three just to remind him that we were there. In the end that was wrong but I thought it would be better at 20 mph rather than doing it out on course at 120 mph. We still had a good run and now the competition knows we’re for real.”
Next on the schedule for Best in the Desert is the Parker Bluewater Desert Challenge, a two-day race on October 12 & 13, 2013.For more information, check out the Best in the Desert website at http://www.bitd.com/.
2013 Vegas to Reno Results
1. Jason Voss – 9:13:10 – Trick Truck
2. Jesse Jones – 9:19:56 – Trick Truck
3. Bryce Menzies – 9:29:52 – Trick Truck
4. CJ Hutchins – 9:34:58 – Class 1500
5. Steve Sourapas – 9:37:18 – Trick Truck
6. Jon Walker – 9:41:40 – Class 1500
7. Steve Olliges – 9:47:02 – Trick Truck
8. Kory Scheeler – 9:50:16 – Trick Truck
9. Greg Foster – 10:00:14 – Class 1500
10. Daniel McMillin – 10:01:57 – Trick Truck