Laughlin Racer Reports:
Sunday, January 27
RICH RONCO, No. 45 (fourth on Sunday, first overall) – What a way to get started! We (Tatum Motorsports) built this for the Unique Whips show with Will Castro. We built it for him as kind of a thing on air. We did the whole thing on TV and when we were done it was time to race it. You couldn’t ask for a better day. This is the first complete Trophy-Truck we’ve built. Here is really the debut for it. How could you not be satisfied? What a way to get started. We’re going to look forward to San Felipe and see if we can’t back this up. There were not really any problems. There was something pounding in the back. We slowed down the last lap or two, just wanted to get it home. We knew they were going to start dropping. We had a lot of problems yesterday with people finishing so I figured we were going to have even higher attrition today and it all worked out in our favor. (Crew keeping you aware of Baldwin?) Actually, no. We lost radio communications. He got by us when we started limping. We kind of saw him and how far he was getting out on us, but we figured if we break it we’re not going to do very well, so we left it up to them to see how they did. (Ran here last year in Class 1) This is really a buggy underneath. It’s a rear engine, transaxle. We just put a body on a buggy to see how it did.
B.J. BALDWIN, No. 97 (third on Sunday, second overall) – We just tried to bring it home on the last couple of laps. It was bouncing pretty hard on the rear pegs. (Yesterday) I lost a transmission at the end of the sixth lap and I drove the seventh lap and eighth lap in second gear, at like 30 miles an hour, just trying to get it around. It was slipping really bad. (Slow down last couple of laps?) We didn’t have a really good tire setup. I made some bad decisions on grooving tires. It was my fault. We couldn’t get any acceleration. (Different course than expecting) A couple billion gallons of water will do that. I made a bad decision on tires.
DAMEN JEFFERIES, No. 22 (fifth on Sunday, third overall) – It was muddy, real muddy. But I can’t complain. There was no dust all weekend. It was a great race. I like this race. We got third for the weekend, which is really good. This is definitely not where our truck belongs. Our truck is suited for the mountains in Baja, so we’re definitely happy with that. It was a great race. No problems, nothing. That was the ultimate test for our transmission. We’re an independent rear suspension. We’re one-wheel drive, which is very difficult. First and third place in Trophy-Truck we’re actually buggies, so figure that out.
BOBBY BALDWIN, No. 96 (sixth on Sunday, fourth overall) – It was a very tight race. The mud and the rain brought everybody close up. I, for one, did not get my truck running until mile four because I didn’t have enough heat in my tort converter. I wasn’t running enough RPM’s so I got passed by everybody, then I was able to get some people back. We had a blast, everybody had a blast. We had a safe race, nobody got hurt. Everybody is happy as a clam. Actually we could see because the rain quit right before the race started. So when you’d hit a puddle you kind of protected your shield and then when that went by you were good to go. No problems, I missed one turn, but other than that, no problems.
MARK POST, No. 4 (second on Sunday, DNF overall) – Rob MacCachren, co-driver: It was real fun. Yesterday we had some problems so we were down a couple of laps. We wanted to get some points for the rest of the year. I thought we needed a run to do good, and Brian Collins caught up to us and we kind of picked it up a little bit. We won the number one plate last year, so we wanted to make sure we finished, we want to stay in the points. We kind of took it a little bit easy. We kind of did the pace we thought would make it without breaking. It wasn’t what it took to win, but we probably ended up second for the day. I was in a mindset that we wanted to finish and not be parked on the side of the road. I asked Kelly (passenger) “what do you think, should we push it harder?” We just kept it the same the whole way – wanted to make sure we finished.
CARL RENEZEDER, No. 17 (first on Sunday, DNF overall) – I know both of us (with Robby Gordon) are smiling, we were both kind of waiting for the last lap. I knew he was going to charge at me at the end. It was a fun battle, we went back and forth and we were side by side pushing on each other. That was an awesome race. We were having a blast. It’s a fine line out there how hard you can push it because the bumps are so squared up. You’ve got to find the fine line to be fast enough but not too fast to break the truck. Yesterday I broke the ring and pinion. We had a good day today anyways. Anything can happen and usually does. The truck was awesome and everything was great and we had a great day; I’d like to have them all that way. It’s rough, the dust is bad, the mud is bad, you’ve got to drive a little different in each condition. Here it was important to take care of the truck.
PAT DEAN, No. 107 (first on Sunday, first overall) – The funny part is, I sold my car three weeks ago and borrowed a car from a friend of mine, T.J. Flores, which only had a V6 instead of V8, so we were real skeptical. But it was awesome. It was a rocketship today and yesterday. We had a super simple weekend. When things come together it’s super easy. We had a perfect weekend. They’re hard to come by. We actually finished without the air cleaner yesterday. We were hoping the motor would make it and it obviously did. (When did you groove the tires?) This morning. I think it helped a lot. I don’t think they come this easy, actually. I think the conditions helped us, with a smaller motor. I think with the mud the big motors were all spinning their tires where this car just lugged around and took care of business. It was a simple day. I don’t think I’ve ever had a day like this. That was awesome. Luckily, we had a big lead, so we started slowing down. If there was big holes we slowed down and sped up in the fast (sections). It was super easy. It was a great day.
B.J. RICHARDSON, No. 118 (fourth on Sunday, second overall) – Very good weekend for the team. I want to congratulate my partner here (Pat Dean, 107), he did a great job. We ended up with a flat tire and had to go into the hot pits. I had to backtrack around to get back in. We were running one and two and then we had a couple cars in between us but I think we are still going to end up first and second for the weekend so I can’t complain about that. The flat was on the sixth lap, other than that no problems. The first couple laps were tough when there was traffic out there because we were getting pelted, we couldn’t see. The first couple laps were quite challenging.
T.J. FL:ORES, co-driver: All those Trophy-Trucks chewed it up pretty bad so we just tried to cruise around, see all the water bubbles and keep the car running. B.J. Richardson did an awesome job. We had a flat on lap five or six, but our pit took care of it real quick. We made up some time to get back up to the these cars that passed us. The guy that was in third (Dale Ebberts, 159), he dropped out, so it looks like our two cars were in first and second.
STEVE BARRY, No. 104 (fifth Sunday, third overall) – I feel good. It was a lot of fun out there. I fried my clutch. The last two laps I was in first and second the whole time, so I’m just kind of poking it the last couple of laps. I couldn’t get any speed down the straights at all, just trying to get to the finish. Yesterday was fun. There wasn’t as much mud and the holes weren’t so big. We weren’t sliding all over the place like today. Down the straight, I got up to almost 90 the first few laps and then I could hit maybe 55 or so on the last few laps, so it was quite a difference. I don’t think it hurt the engine. It was just the clutch.
CHUCK DEMPSEY, No. 130 (fifth on Sunday, third overall) – It (the race) was great, it was awesome, it was a lot of fun. It was real wet out there but it wasn’t too bad. The car was great. We’re somewhat of a new team and we’re trying real hard. We were in the top 10 in race series last year, we’re just trying to go up the ladder all year long. I was in Anaheim doing a pro lite race last night and I heard there were a lot of DNF’s yesterday. So I just tried to cruise the first half of it, and tried to pick up momentum in the second half and see if there was anyone breaking. Mark Levrett drove yesterday and did a great job, got us in the top 10. Today we just tried to move farther up the ladder.
CORY BOYER, No. 1649 (second on Sunday, first overall) – It was a little muddy. We worked on the motor all night and we don’t even know if what we did helped because the motor was bogging out and getting wet. You’d have to try to clear it out and as soon as the motor would start running good you’d hit a puddle and it would get wet again. So we just had to keep going, keep chugging. For the first three laps it was fine, no problems, we pulled away from everybody. I think everyone was having motor problems and we were fortunate enough to not have any. But I think then the silicone and stuff that we put on the motor started to wear off and the motor started getting wet. It would bog out and you’d have to try to clean it out. It would take about a half a lap to clean it out and then you’d hit another puddle and get the motor wet. We ust tried to keep going. There are a lot of people stuck out there; a lot of people stuck in the lines we wanted to take, too.
HIRAM DURAN, No. 1615 (first on Sunday, second overall) – A tough race, but a good race. It was cold, I was wet, I couldn’t see a thing the whole way. I just went off the course once though. I didn’t have any problems, but now it won’t start. It was a lot slower than yesterday, I think I took me about 15 minutes longer. I passed him (Dave Caspino, 1600) right here on the last lap in the infield. I finished third yesterday, but now it comes down to time.
ADAM PFANKUCH, No. 1609 (sixth on Sunday, third overall; was second, one second behind after Saturday) – I’m numb right now. The first lap I lost two cylinders. I had to get off the track (to avoid the holes), otherwise I would have been stuck.
DAVE CASPINO, No. 1600 (third on Sunday, fourth overall) – Great race but it was very muddy and miserable. I had no visor the whole way. Congratulations to Cory Boyer and the only guy (Hiram Duran) that passed me at the rim after I passed him. Good job to Sal (Fish) and all the SCORE officials.
DONALD MOSS, No. 301 (only starter in class) – We blew the drive shaft coming into the infield on the first lap. I could feel it vibrating all the way around and it popped out right here in the last turn right before the flag. With as muddy as it was we said there’s just no way we’re going to make it just front wheel drive so we had to stop and go ahead and change it out. That seemed like the only choice. It’s just brutal out there. It was a pretty good run, pretty quiet.
CARLOS ALBANEZ, No. 500 (completed six of required seven laps on Sunday, DNF overall) – Luivan Voelker, co-driver: It was very fun. It was hard though, the mud makes it hard. My plan was just run, run, run. I cleaned my helmet over and over. Carlos Albanez drove yesterday, and I drove today. The motor was getting wet and was misfiring the last two laps. I got a late start because of my helmet that I brought.
MARCOS NUNEZ, No. 579 (second on Sunday, second overall) – No problems. Nothing.
DAN CHAMLEE, No. 700 (completed four of required six laps on Sunday, DNF overall) – What a muddy mess. We got stuck in the mud once. We got a flat tire, I think everybody saw us change that in the infield. I don’t know how long I was driving on the flat. I think we got timed out before our last lap was finished. What a mess, that’s all I can say, but it was fun.
JOHN HOLMES/MARK LANDERSMAN, No. 742 (DNF on Sunday, second overall) – Landersman drove Sunday and said: It was the toughest racing I’ve ever done. You just couldn’t see. We ran the last three laps with our light on because it was dropping cylinders, it blew a head gasket, and Tim (Lawrence, No. 745) is just so tough. It was tough duty and we did our best. It’s always been a battle with him. It’s going to be close again. We blew a motor. The motor’s junk. It happened on lap three, about halfway around, the temperature light came on and it started dropping cylinders. The last two a half laps, the power would come and go and we were just trying to get it to the end. And you couldn’t see, that was the biggest problem. You couldn’t see bumps, big bumps, that were 30 or 40 feet in front of you. So you’re driving by Braille, you can’t drive very fast because you can’t read the terrain, and if you try to go fast you’re going to break the car. So my hat’s off to him (Tim). NOTE: When he spoke to the media Landersman was not aware his team was being scored as a non-finisher for the day.
HEIDI STEELE/TIM LAWRENCE, No. 745 (first on Sunday, first overall) – Lawrence drove Sunday and said: We were in bonzai mode. I couldn’t see a thing. I lost my brakes on the first lap. I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t steer. The holes are terrible out there and you couldn’t see under the water what type of hole it is until you hit it. We were one second apart last year. We got second by one second and I won on Sunday, like this. That was one of the toughest courses I’ve done, I don’t care if it was 30 miles or not. You can’t see, the holes are super deep and real sharp and you can’t steer and you can’t stop. It was fun, though. It’s an off-road race; that’s how it’s supposed to be, right? We had a good day. I’ve got to contribute some of it to these Yokohama tires. Right off the bat we were hooked up so I’ve got to think they had something to do with it.
TODD WYLLIE, No. 803 (first on Sunday, DNF overall) – It was just a mud bath out there, that goes without saying. The key for us was to put on the BFGoodrich mud tires. They hooked up really well. Everybody was just spinning and spinning and we were just pulling away from them. We just put that windshield in this morning. We’ve used it before a little bit, just for some wind protection. We threw that in just to keep me a little bit drier than I would have been if it wasn’t in there. Saturday we came up about a half-mile short of the infield on the last lap. We were leading the race and we lost the rear third member. (Knowing probably can’t win, using race for practice?) Practicing for the SCORE Trophy-Truck, and I want to win. I don’t like this truck going out and not being in the front. My goal was to put it up in the front and make some kind of a statement.
CHRIS HARROLD, No. 1007 (first on Sunday, first overall) – We had a little problem (with the motor). It worked really good the first lap. Then we were down to two and once in a while we’d get three and every once in a while it would clear out a little bit. It was kind of survival there, trying to get through the mud and be able to see. It was an adventure. It was fun. I was hoping to be able to get out front and keep moving. It got real deep out there, so it was easy to get stuck or tipped over. I just had to get through the thing and hopefully get the win.
RICK ST. JOHN/ADAM PFANKUCH, No. 1204 (first on Sunday, first overall) – Pfankuch drove Sunday and said: We ran out of towels and I had to drive with my shield open. (Driving in first group help?) No, not really. We just kept going, man; just kept going. (Co-driver was wife Laurie. They were celebrating their 1-month anniversary.)
TOM WATSON/ROB MAC CACHREN, No. 1200 (second on Sunday, second overall) – MacCachren drove Sunday and said: Tim Noe and Tom Watson let me drive their car today to get a few laps in before the SCORE Trophy-Truck race. The mud out there is unbelievable. There’s places where in first gear you can hardly move it at all, almost getting stuck. The water was really affecting the engine and we were down on like three cylinders most of the race, just really struggling. Adam (Pfankuch) did a heck of a job. I’m sure his motor ran great. That was the key, really. If your car ran properly, if your motor ran, you could go fast. Other than that … we were a little bit dead in the water today.
DAVID CALLAWAY/SCOTT MAPES, No. 1203 (third on Sunday, third overall) – Callaway drove Sunday and said: Man, what a race. Survival, that’s all that was; just survival and keeping it going forward, keeping it out of the water. We were definitely hitting the water. We lost a cylinder probably five percent of the time, but after about a mile it seemed like it would clear up and start running again, so it was all good. It was pretty muddy, pretty slippery. These things don’t have a whole lot of horsepower anyway and we were slipping and sliding. It was everything I could do just to keep it on the course. It was definitely interesting. (The first day) we blew a tranny. We put our desert tranny in today and it worked good. The car worked good.
RAMON FERNANDEZ, No. 1100 (first on Sunday, first overall) – It’s pretty muddy, but we were cold; real cold. There were no problems, nothing (either day).
CHAD HALL, No. 861 (first on Sunday, first overall) – I tested at Parker a couple of weeks ago with the KN2 mud tire and decided to go ahead and run the Baja. I think the only thing we could have done better was run the KN2. It’s a great little truck. It ran great, ran flawlessly. It’s got a great electrical system. We had no electrical issues even though it was just pouring with water. Just a nice day. This is not what you’re screaming for, no way, but it worked out well. We ended up second Saturday and we were a little soft (in the suspension), so we went back and added some more wheel travel to the back and tuned it better. I think we could have run with John (Griffin) today anyway, but with two-wheel-drive (Griffin) you might as well just pull off. There’s no chance.
ROD HALL, No. 760 (first on Sunday, first overall) – That’s my windshield wiper (holds up a plastic scraper he was given by someone in staging). We went through all of our rags and we said, well, we’ve got that scraper (to clean his visor). It was a great trip out there. We had a problem right off the start. We had this big BANG and the thing just quit going. I figured I’m going to sit on this hill while everybody goes by. I backed off the hill, put it in reverse, and then it took off, so I did a couple of donuts out there. I don’t know what it was. My guess is we locked up the spider gears and it stopped us and when we backed up all the spider gears fell out and we just ran in two-wheel-drive. I had a lot of problems trying to keep it on the course. Truthfully it was hard to tell (if in 2WD) because it was so slick out there. It’ll be interesting to see what the big noise was. I just drive it, I don’t know how to make anything work. It’s getting to be harder days at the office. It’s going to be someone else’s turn eventually. We had a perfect run yesterday. It was good race with the boys in the Ranger (Steve Kovach). Truthfully, I just had more experience and got through the mud better than they did.
JASON VOSS, No. 235 (only starter in class) – It wasn’t a double points race for us, but I don’t know why there weren’t other Pro Trucks in this. We just wanted to make it to the finish, get around the track. We finished, that’s all that we wanted. You couldn’t see all the way around the track, so maybe that helped. This plastic bag (that he was wearing) didn’t help too much.
BRIAN FREEMAL, No. 1504 (first on Sunday, first overall) – Today we just came out and tried to have a good race. With everyone breaking out there all we had to do was finish today. I think that strategy won. This is a Chevy powered Trophy Light, a new series that is coming out this year – it’s the first one built, and there are 70 on backorder. You’re going to see a lot of these coming out. They are light, they’re agile, they’re economical.
Class 1 Class
1. Pat Dean, 2. BJ Richardson, 3. Steve Barry, 4. Chuck Dempsey, 5. Dale Lenk, 6. James Scott, 7. Eric Chase.
Brian Parkhouse, Jeff Farris, Brian Hudson, Harley Letner, Scott Schovajsa, Dale Ebberts, John Harrah, Steve Martz, Danny Anderson, Josh Baldwin, Luis Ramirez Jr. Armin Schwarz, Adam Householder, Jason Shipman, Billy Gasper, Josh Rigsby, Barry Karakas, Brian Kirby, Byron Ashley, Enrique Bujanda.
Trophy Truck Class
1. Rich Ronco, 2. BJ Baldwin, 3. Damen Jeffries, 4. Bobby Baldwin, 5. Robbie Pierce, 6. Mark Post.
Travis Coyne, Bill McBeath, Todd Wyllie, Josh Baldwin, Tavo Vildolsola, Steven Jangaard, Jesse James, Robby Gordon, Carl Renezeder, Roger Norman, Jeff Spires, Kory Scheeler, Brian Collins, Clyde Stout, Luis Wallace, Ernesto Cervantes, Chet Huffman, Pete Sohren.
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