Baja is a place of beauty, while most racers traveling down the peninsula do not get to stop and smell the roses any trip south of the border is something great. For Brenthel Industries a trip to Baja was nothing new, but they were bringing something new down south.
Before heading down to Baja we had the chance to check out their all-new Trophy Truck and just had to see what the truck looked like after going to war for 1,134 miles. We knew the truck had crossed the finish line, but the story on getting it to the starting line was just the being.
Behind The Glass
The truck was built for Richard Armstrong and featured a brand new Trophy Truck design, one of which was three years in the making. Armstrong started driving in the Trophy Truck Spec class with a Brenthel truck and knew that making the jump he would be staying with the Brenthel brothers.
Every race the main goal for every team is to win and this year’s race let 58.7 percent of the starters finish. SCORE had laid out a difficult course, but what else would you expect for the 50th running of the Baja 1000.
Armstrong is no stranger to Baja and has raced there before. “I raced the Baja 1000 last year in a 6100 Brenthel spec truck,” Armstrong said. “It was after last year’s race that I decided that I wanted to go ahead and have a Trophy Truck built by them.”
“The Baja 1000 this year was amazing,” Armstong continued. “The truck had a lot of interest starting when we got it to tech and contingency, everybody loved it. From there we went on and ran a wicked race.”
Sharing the driving duties with Armstrong this year was Todd LeDuc and Jonathan Brenthel while Trevor Elingham, Jeff Dolan, and Chris Pearson shared time in the navigator seat. Armstrong ran the second leg of the race and hoped in the truck in the Bay of LA to around race mile 785.
Armstrong’s section of the race was not all lollipops and balloons. “We had broke a sway bar when Todd was driving so we knew it was a little banged up,” Armstrong explained. “Around race mile 408 we came to an R4 a little hot and then rolled down an embankment about four times before landing wheels down pointed up the slope.”
“This truck has power like you will not believe,” Armstrong said. “It is like driving a dirt bike with four wheels it just wants to eat anything in its way. The Danzio P600 has put out more power than anything else they have put out.”
A new truck on from the builder’s side is a whole different view. It is one thing to build the truck, but to have it prepped and ready to go takes plenty of hard work.
“We are ecstatic that the new Trophy Truck finished,” Jonathan Brenthel said. “It was a brand new design which has been three years in the making. It came down to the wire like always, we literally finished it at 5:30 in the morning the day of contingency with only 30 miles of testing on it from the day before.”
“We found a couple little gremlins while testing,” Jordan Brenthel explained. “They were nothing that we were not expecting. We fixed them out in the desert and finished up testing.”
Testing is almost as if not more important than prerunning. Regardless of how well you know the course, if the truck is not ready to handle everything it does not matter how many hours are spent prerunning.
“Finishing a race as long as the Baja 1000 on a truck that saw very little testing is huge for us,” Jonathan Brenthel said. “We started the race in 30th and finished in 15th and just the fact we were able to finish is just unreal.”
Brenthel utilizes CAD in a lot of what they do. CAD helps them be able to lay things out see how things work, but in the end, they rely on their building experience to get the trucks working right.
“Having CAD helps us a lot, but there is still a lot of real-world experience that helps,” Jonathan Brenthel continued. “We have built 70 trucks. Bringing a truck from CAD to reality is not easy, and our real-world experiences help make that easier the first time.”
“This Trophy Truck is more than just a new truck,” Jordan Brenthel said. “The truck featured a whole new design and some parts that were firsts for us. Everything on this truck is completely different than our Spec truck.”
New tooling was needed to complete the build which featured a new cooling system, control arms, and steering. This truck got away from using a steering rack, Brenthel opted to use a steering box.
From here the truck will receive a 100-percent teardown. During the tear down the team will look at areas where they want to adjust. They will look at areas that may need to be stronger or areas that could be lighter to what kind of wear the parts are seeing.
More Than Just Metal
A race truck plain and simple is just a ton of metal put together, but it is more than just that to a racer and his team. The dedication of the team will go a long way in the end and stressful situations.
“My favorite part of the truck is Brenthel Industries,” Armstrong said. “It is an engineering marvel and everything they did performed spot on. All of the logistics that they put in behind the scenes played out perfectly.”
Stressful situations are bound to pop up in desert racing and how those situations are handled determines how well a team can do. For Brenthel, everything was planned and thought of beforehand, they left nothing out.
“The best part of our team is team morale,” Jonathan Brenthel said. “There are times when morale gets low and you are bummed, but keeping a positive attitude during those times help. Being able to fix or solve the situation and move on is what helps get a truck to the finish line.”
This won’t be the last that we will see of this truck and we are sure that Brenthel will be busy making some more. Brenthel will tear down the truck to go over every piece before prepping their Spec truck for the last Best in the Desert race of the year, the Pahrump Nugget 250 November 30 to December 3.