BITD Parker 425: Dust, Carnage, And Cows

To kick off the 2018 season for the Trophy Trucks, the Best in the Desert racing series headed to Parker Arizona for the Blue Water Resort and Casino Parker 425. Being the first race of the season this is the race which many of the teams like to get their momentum for the season with a solid win or placement.

The trick truck class had a total of 50 entries for the race but there was one driver last years champion, Andy McMillin with a new truck and new team that everyone was watching. Andy made the decision to go to Robert Mason with Mason Motorsports to build the truck, this race was its debut to the public. During contingency, there was a steady pack of people looking over the beautiful piece of artwork Mason built wondering how it would do for its debut race.

Contingency was packed for the first Best in the Desert race of the season.

Best in the Desert chose this year to run the qualifying course backwards to keep things interesting. During qualifying, Jason Voss had a horrific accident sending him tumbling through the air about eight times after hitting a gnarly G-out and the rear end coming up. Thankfully Jason and his navigator walked away without a scratch.

However the same couldn’t be said about the truck with them having to use their back up truck for the race. Many of the racers were hesitant to hit the huge jump during qualifying as it was backwards, however, when it comes to Harley Letner and Robby Gordon there is no such thing as letting off and they sent it huge.

The Youtheory Racing team was out in full force.

As qualifying came to a close the results came out of the top trucks with Andy McMillin being the one to beat with a 07:01 with Harley Letner in the Youtheory Racing Trophy Truck Destroyer (TTDestroyer) one second behind him! The Top 5 trucks in qualifying were all 1.X second off of each other following Harley was Justin Lofton, Robby Gordon, and BJ Baldwin. At contingency, the excitement filled the air with Andy being the one out front in a brand new truck to defend his title from last year. With a man like Harley Letner behind you, there is no room for error.

Time To Get Dirty

Race Day was here, time to back up what you said in offseason and go to work. The trick trucks and the other big classes left the line at 1:30. You couldn’t ask for better conditions in terms of temperature, however, we did need some wind because in many parts of the course the dust would just settle and not move out. The first trucks off the line with clean air flow through the section however after the Top 5 the dust just settled with many of the trucks checking up before the jump and some even going offline due to limited visibility.

As the middle of the pack approached I left shea and headed out towards RM108 to catch the leaders as they came through the power line jump. Andy was the first to pass me with Harley only eight seconds behind him (I counted). It would be a battle of the brand new trick truck against the TTDestroyer for the whole race. Christian Sourapas and navigator John Tondro were making good time passing Apdaly Lopez and Ray Griffith making it to Pit 2 11 seconds off the leaders on corrected time and got stuck in the dust behind CJ Hutchins and Robby Gordon.

The Trick Truck class taking on the Parker desert.

While heading down a high-speed power line road around RM65 they hit a pack of cows at 110mph. “I’ve gone over 125 mph in the section, we are lucky we have a well built Herbst Smith truck with a lot of bumper,” Navigator John Tondro said. “That scenario could have been much worst in a buggy.”

I caught back up with the leaders at the main pit with Andy coming in first once again with Harley about 30 seconds behind him now. Harley pulled into his pits at Youtheory Racing and the team pulled off a timely and flawless tire change and fueling, the race was back on.

Now on Lap 2 of the 3 lap race, Andy was keeping a steady three mile lead on Harley until jeep trail where Harley ran into issues. Over the radio, we could hear they were having electrical issues with the truck not starting and they were trying to track down the culprit.

While this is happening we are over by the river and a road crossing/jump and Andy blasts through while the crowd cheers him on. To next trucks to follow were Rob MacCaharan and Brett Sourapas. Andrew Whitehead of Youtheory Racing was leading the whole 6100 class throughout the day and just needed to stay consistent to finish on the box and get a win for the Youtheory Racing team with Harley out of contending.

As the leaders head out onto their last lap we hear the devastating news that the problem couldn’t be found on Harley and he had to get towed out of the race just as night falls. On the last lap, Rob MacCaharan would lose his momentum for the podium and hit a truck stuck in the sand, unfortunately, putting him out of contending for the podium. Brett Sourapas would be able to drive around him and keep a steady place landing a strong second.

And for first? Andy McMillin defended his 2017 title and crossed the line first in his new truck with a time of 07:04:59.944, a testament to what an experienced driver and well-built truck can do. Brett Sourapas was 14 minutes off of first on corrected time and finished second. Andrew Whitehead would keep his lead and finish first in the 6100 class with a 5min lead ahead of second with a 08:11:39.183.

Andy McMillin took home the crown at the 2018 BITD Parker 425.

The first race of the season was one for the books and a great opener for the 2018 season. We can’t wait to follow the series and bring more awesome action to you!

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About the author

Daniel Schenkelberg

Daniel Schenkelberg is a Southern California-based photographer who has been shooting motorsports since 2008. He has worked with top shops and garage race teams trying to make a name for themselves, which creates a versatile perspective. Daniel specializes in conveying passion through imagery by capturing the intimate moments of the sport. Creating awe-inspiring automotive images, he now provides quality content to Power Automedia as a freelance photographer.
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