The season opener to the Best in the Desert race series, The Parker 250 kicked off this past weekend in Parker Arizona. It’s like the first day of school; you start with a clean slate and the chance to start the season well. Have a great race and you get the opportunity to carry that momentum into the next race, have a bad race and try to dig yourself out of a hole for the rest of the season. I went into the new season with my new bad ass Polaris Rzr XpTurbo that I am learning to adapt to as quickly as possible. With 2 races under my belt in the new car I had a little more confidence going into the first race of the 2016 season.
Parker, a race that to me has a little bit of everything and has always been one of my favorite races due to the fact that it is one of the closer to home tracks and it is an awesome track to take the RV and camp at. The week prior to the race was all scheduled maintenance on the RZR and time to get the Rv ready for the trip ahead. I made plans with the Guthrie’s to camp with them seeing that we have grown to be good friends over the past couple years and we talk often especially with their debut in the desert world with Guthrie Jr. The Thursday night before the race rolled around and El Nino was in full effect here in Arizona. I woke up Friday morning to my surprise of over 8” of snow on the ground. Well there went my camping plans seeing that I wasn’t getting out of town in my Rv and race trailer. Next option was load the chase truck up make some last minute hotel reservations and head south. As we left town in 4-wheel drive ahead of the snowplows we eased our way out of town past vehicles in ditches all the way down to the point where the snow level had switched to rain. After a longer than normal trip to Parker we arrived to tech around noon and took the rest of the day to chitchat with other competitors and partners.
Saturday rolls around which meant race day! Check out of our hotel, fill fuel cans, coolers, and grab a bite to eat was the schedule before the race. Once we made it out to pit row we had a chance to set up a great pit location and get our pit all set up and put together. Tools were all laid out in a strategic order along with any parts we may need. The Rzr Xp Turbo was unloaded and parked above our pit tarp where we had the chance to triple check everything. The time to stage rolled around quickly and we were ready to head over to the start line. We had a great starting position being 4th which equated to a second row outside start next to the veterans Jagged X in their new Rzr XpTurbo. As I sat waiting for the green light I gathered all my emotions and concentrated on my job ahead. The green light lit up and it was gas on heading for the first corner. Unfortunately the outside lane (which we were in) had not one, but two large muddy puddles before the first turn that I was not excited about. We blasted through the first puddle and nailed the second one at a high rate of speed. As I tried to wipe my visor clean of all the muddy water the first corner approached fast. We railed through the corners of the shoot trying hard to be the first one to the course merge. To my surprise we were able to beat our opponent out of the start line shoot and over the first jump into the desert. Shortly after the start on the first long straight away I began to get a whiff of rubber burning. Not more than 100 yards up the course I saw Johnny on the side and it looked as though Boner was out of the car changing a belt, awesome! One of my main competitors changing a belt in the first 5 miles of the race put us in 2nd and the rear lights of the 1st place car were in our sights. As we entered the sandy wash that seems to go uphill for forever we gained ground quickly on the 1st place car of the Murrays. Once up on their bumper they pulled to the side and let us go by. At this point the Rzr XpTurbo is feeling awesome and we are 1st physical car on the track! Kick ass or not really, I ask my self what pace do I run now. Are the cars that started behind me running hard or playing it safe? Well I decide to keep an eye on my mirror and try to keep a good but not overbearing pace. For multiple miles I see the Murrays back there running about 100 yards back. It seemed as though we knew to pace each other to keep the cars together to finish the race. As we get to the back side of the track I glance in my mirror and to my surprise I don’t see the Murrays any longer but I do see the #919 of Jagged closing up on me. Time to pick up the pace again. Jagged and I raced together for the entire backside of the course and headed down toward the water. I don’t know if I slowed down or if Jagged sped up, but right before crossing under the bridge I noticed the #919 about 4 foot off my rear bumper. At that point I smashed the throttle and headed off towards the straightaway in front of the river. Lap 1 was complete and I had gained ground back on Jagged. As we entered the Parker Python I was able to see where Jagged was. They looked to be about ¼-1/2 mile behind me. The Python is rough and beat up but there are jumps and cameramen everywhere throughout. I have an issue seeing jumps and not wanting to hit them hard especially with a camera sitting at the landing. As I get within about ¼ mile of the main pit speed zone I hit the last jump come down hard and instantly hear a terrible sound upon landing. The sound was coming from behind me and in all honesty sounded like the transmission exploded. I accelerated slowly knowing I was within ¼ mile of my scheduled pit stop when all the sudden the car revved up and no longer propelled us forward. I yell at my co driver to grab a belt and we both jump out. I get the cover off as he hands me tools. At this time Jagged X roles by with Dan from LSR not too much further behind. We get the belt changed and throw the belt cover in the car with us. As we hop back in the car I radio to the pits to expect a belt change and reinstall the cover. I pull up over my pit tarp and the crew gets working on the car. I ask for a tank of fuel and a belt change with a fresh new belt. I’m sitting in the car waiting, thinking, what is taking so long? A normal belt change I would think 4-5 min in the pits, well we are at over 10 min at this point. Once you try changing a belt on the new Turbo Rzr with 3.0 rear shocks you will understand why belt changes are a little more of a pain in the ass now. It looks like a mad house around the pits and I can’t hear or see a thing that is going on. I see people running around everywhere and grabbing parts. I stop counting cars go by after about 8 of them pass by me sitting in the pits. All the sudden I feel the car lift up on one side and I hear, “grab an axle” great so now my belt change has turned into an axle and belt change. I feel the car drop and my flagger gives me the go. We are back off into the desert and the radio call comes in that we had a 14 min pit and that I would need to make up some serious time. Gas pedal back to the floor and we are hauling ass. We get to the wash where I am able to pass 2 cars in my class and head for the remote pit. As we enter the alternate pit I see the #919 of Jagged exiting the pit. I think to myself and realized we started next to them so I need to pass him to get to the next position. This part of the track is literally like a rally race and I love that style of dirt roads. We come up behind the #919 car and before they have a chance to notice us we slingshot around them on the outside of a corner. From that point on it was the lets see what this car can do mentality. Railing corners and jamming berms this Polaris RZR XpTurbo was impressive! As the 2nd lap wound down I was bummed because not only was I having a blast, but also we were gaining serious time. We reached the final stretch of the 2nd lap and pulled through the finish line. After the times were calculated we ended up 5th in the Pro Turbo class.
Once again my Polaris Rzr XpTurbo was amazing, I’m still learning it, but I think I’m close to having it figured out. The Lonestar Racing suspension once again allowed me to make up the time where it mattered, and supplied me with a ride that kept my car together. Another race on my Itp Ultracross tires without a failure and my Method race wheels have continued to impress me without having one failure since running them. My FOX Factory Series Internal Bypass shocks absolutely ate up the Parker terrain and begged to be punished more. Not to mention how well my Rugged Radios, Factory Utv skids, KC HiLiTES, Northern Arizona Auto & Off Road prep, Beard Seats, Queen Racing parts, my dad, and pit crew all worked to help me reach that finish line. Until next time Parker, peace!