Trophylite Racers Defy The Desert At Best In The Desert Silver State 300 « Bink Designs | Identity / Print / Web / Photography / Apparel / Decals

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Alamo, NV

The Best In The Desert Canidae Tap It Silver State 300 takes place in some of the most beautiful scenery in the west. Huge valleys, juniper covered hills, Joshua trees, spectacular rock formations, it has it all. When it comes to challenging terrain, it has that too. Tight, twisty mountain passes, dry sandy washes, deep silt beds and long open sections that strain the rev limiter. The course is only one lane wide for miles and the dust is thick making passing difficult. Despite the tough conditions, the entire Trophylite field made it to the finish.

The final Trophylite to cross the line was the Elite Laser Cutting team of Rick Mendoza. The team had a huge swing of fortune during the race. Jeff Lewis started the race and was leading the pack by a couple of minutes when the power steering locked up. The lack of control caused him to go off course around mile 91 and flip the truck on its lid. In a remote area without assistance, they spent over two and a half hours jacking and digging before they managed to get upright again. Partially blocking the course, they had to dodge traffic as they worked. They got the truck over, topped up the fluids and got it fired up. After getting back underway, the truck ran perfectly. The only damage was to the fiberglass body panels. With co-driver Jason Montes clutching a fire extinguisher in case the oil covering the engine caught fire, they raced to pit 4 at an incredible pace. Rick and Christian Mendoza jumped in to relieve the exhausted pair. Rick and Christian had to maintain the incredible pace to the finish, rushing to beat the darkness with no KC Hilites mounted. “Everyone was on a high while we were passing all the fastest trucks,” said team owner Jeremy Kegher, “We had some problems but this team never dies, we would have pushed the truck across the line if we had to.” The team was the last finisher to cross the line; just as night fell. The team’s refusal to give up earned them the Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger award and $500 cash bonus. The Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger award goes to the team at each race that demonstrates the most determination to overcome adversity and/or the competition.

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Another team that overcame some challenges was the Premier Garage team of Todd Jackson. After starting first off the line and setting a good pace out front, they lost the brakes. It was not an issue in the wide open valleys but once they hit the narrow, tree-lined mountain sections it was a serious problem. They turned the brake bias all the way to the rear brakes and used the transmission to slow down. They were overtaken by Mendoza before reaching the crew at pit 2. They spent 20 minutes rerouting brake lines and bleeding fluid. When they got back underway, the entire field had all passed them. The brakes were back but did not last. They spent more time in pit 4 on the brakes. “I almost ended our day a couple times blowing corners that where not marked on the GPS,” said Jackson, “I got lucky threading the needle between two trees; one on Mike’s side and the other on mine. We finished 3rd, (surprise to me!) but lost on corrected time to Proctor and then Mortis/Wacker by only 8 seconds. We have all of the pieces. We just need to get a break on the bad luck with mechanical issues. We are taking the truck completely apart, powder coating the frame and will be going through everything top to bottom to shake the gremlins out. We are planning on a strong second half of the season

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Third place Jeff Proctor said his race was uneventful. “We had one slow leak that the crew changed in the pits,” said Proctor, “It was fun off the start. At pit 2 you could have thrown a blanket over the entire field; it was very close. Our Metro Honda / Metro Acura crew did an excellent job getting us in and out of the pits. Our prep is solid so I can drive the truck much harder now. I had a new navigator for the race, Daniel Plaza. He kept me focused and did a great job all day. It feels so good to be on the podium after all the hard work we’ve done. Vegas to Reno; with all the points available will be a big, big race. We are sitting good in the points now but we’ll have to go out and perform.” Proctor was third in points coming into the race. Finishing two places ahead of second place in points Todd Jackson will move him into the second spot going into Vegas to Reno.

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Points leader and winner of the race Andrew McLeod was determined to finish up front. He started fourth behind his sister Megan; giving her some pre-race instructions on how it was going to go. The siblings stood together on the podium at the Mint 400; Andrew in second, Megan in third. “I told Megan I would come up and give her a tap to let her know I was there,” says Andrew, “I didn’t think she would be so hard to pass but it took 27 miles just to catch her; she was fast.

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We passed Jackson in the pits and then Mendoza while he was upside down. I knew PJ and Proctor were right behind but I had clean air; I made sure to stay in front. We were missing a few teeth from the ring and pinion and then about ten miles from the finish I smacked a big rock in the silt. I figured the tire was flat but we were so close I kept going. We were running the new General Tire MT. They performed incredibly all day. The new Mud Terrain MT tire held up to get us to the finish line for the win.” Andrew earns the Metro Honda / Metro Acura Superior Performance award and $500 cash bonus for the win.

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Andrew’s win gives him a few precious points over his two rivals Proctor and Jackson but it’s so close the Vegas to Reno race will be crucial to anyone in the top five. A DNF, (did not finish) by one of the front runners and a strong finish by a contender could shake up the standings. One driver who is looking to move up in the standings is second place finisher at the Silver State Braden Abatti. He had a tough race at the Mint 400 suffering a driveline failure that also damaged the transmission and then lost an engine.

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Due to the ongoing repairs to his truck, he and Brother Ben would start dead last at Silver State in the Trophylite House Rental truck. “Ben started the race but soon had the transmission temps creep up,” said Braden, “As he climbed into the mountains the air was cooler so he picked up the pace. We were in 5th at the driver change. I was on proctor’s tail until we beat him out of the pits. After pit 6 I had clean air so I concentrated on a good pace without overheating the transmission; we needed a good finish. It was the first race for my new co-rider Shane Robinson. He did great but we need some time to build the trust between each other. It takes some faith in each other to really push hard in the dust. On the flat graded roads there was too much dust to see ahead. The driver has to know the navigator is on top of things and the navigator has to trust the driver not to crash.”

Todd Jackson summed up the race well. “The Silver State is basically 300 miles of fire road so it’s a single lane race course. To make matters worse, it’s one of the dustiest races we do all year. The trees that reach out for you at every corner trap the dust for hours making it difficult to navigate. When you can see, there are massive drop offs to keep your speeds down. Then you hit long, power robbing silt beds with hidden rocks and deep holes. Do this for 300 miles without hitting a rock or tree, have no mechanical issues or driver errors and you have a pretty good shot of winning.”

The Silver State race was a huge challenge during a point in the season when the pressure is on. The strong support from sponsors means so much to everyone. General Tire, KC Hilities, Metro Honda / Metro Acura, FOX Shox, MasterCraft Safety, Impact, Method Race Wheels, Maxima Racing Oils, K&N filters, Magnaflow Exhaust, PCI Race Radios, Currie Enterprises, Azuñia Tequila, Children of the Dirt Apparel, Tanimura & Antle and Kreed Eyewear by Fortress are crucial to the Trophylite series and each team’s success. The longest off-road race in the United States is next on the schedule when Vegas to Reno comes August 13-15. Despite how tough the Silver State was, Vegas to Reno will be even tougher!

Photography By: Bink Designs