Twists & Turns

The desert is calming down after the intense heat of the summer. Monsoon showers have brought cooler temperatures as a beautiful autumn approaches, but that quiet won’t last long.
Ground-pounding off-road racing returns to the desert when Best In The Desert presents the fourth annual Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic “Duel in the Desert” sponsored by JIMCO.
This race on a 16-mile loop — happening Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 9-13 — is for drivers who love a challenge. All race events take place at the Laughlin Events Park at the corner of Bruce Woodbury Drive and Thomas Edison Drive (a short drive up from Casino Drive and the entrance to the Edgewater).
“At Best In The Desert Racing Association, our goal is to make certain competitors’ experience with us is nothing short of exceptional,” said Donald Jackson, operations manager for Best In The Desert, the sanctioning organization for this race.
“Laughlin is one of the premier locations for recreation in Nevada, and is once again opening their doors to welcome all of our racers and fans. The Laughlin Desert Classic already proved the last few years to be extremely competitive and we expect this year’s edition to be even bigger and better.”
To that end, BITD ensures drivers’ participation and enthusiasm to the sport of off-road racing meets with the professionalism they expect and deserve. Sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Commission, the event is spectator friendly, offering excitement for all ages.
“This is our fourth year working along with the Laughlin Tourism Commission to present our dedicated off-road racers with a great venue, thrilling special events and an incredibly challenging specialized 16-mile race course,” Jackson said. ” The LTC has always been helpful to work with and dealing with Jackie (Mazzeo) and Val (Gabaldon) now, they are very organized, proficient, responsive and making great improvements to the LTC that were needed.
“Returning this time for the second year is the UTV night race,” he added. “That event takes place Thursday, Oct. 10 (beginning at 5:45 p.m.).
“Unlike past years, this is the final race of the season for the Car/Truck/UTV community, so class championships are on the line and with it being a double points race, it is sure to be highly competitive.”
During last year’s racing event, BITD brought back the spectator-popular Laughlin Leap after too long of an absence and the many requests to restore it.
“The Laughlin Leap is broken into classes this year, with a minimum of two entries for a class to compete,” Jackson explained. “After four entries are received per class, then it will be bracket style competition until the final round which will be a longest jump to determine the winner. The fee for this event is $100 per entry.” The race course is particularly challenging this year.
“The course is very tight and technical, so for the cars and trucks, knowing when to push the envelope and when to be smooth and steady is a tricky balance,” he said. “For the UTVs, the night factor is always a challenge. Most drivers don’t experience a lot of seat time behind the wheel in racing conditions after dark, so it is an element of surprise that can be a game-changer in the championship.
“The infield will again be a completely new design that will showcase tight turns, big jumps and lots of action, and the race course will be a 16-mile loop again this year,” he added.
While all drivers are “in it to win it,” there are some strong contenders in the mix to make this race even more of a challenge.
“In the Trick Truck division, there is a three-way battle for the Class Championship between Jeff Terso, from Youtheory Racing; Steve Olliges, from Fox Shox; and Jason Voss, from Voss Motorsports,” Jackson said. “Not only will these teams be battling each other, but we also have powerhouses like Tracy Graft, Kevin Thompson, Brett Sourapas, Justin Matney, Adam Householder and Johnny Angal to name a few, who will be forcing these drivers to be on top of their game.
“First and second place in Class 1000, Conner McMullen, sponsored by McMullen Fabrication and Transaxle, and Christian Fessler, sponsored by Paradise Garden Center, are only separated by one point — the Top five teams in this class are within 31 points of each other, so that is sure to be a great battle to keep an eye on.
“Class 6100 has Brock Heger, sponsored by Method Race Wheels, in the lead with 434 points; with Travis Chase, sponsored by General Tire; and Adam Lunn, sponsored by Trophy Tractor; tied for second with 431 points, followed by Taylor Mills, sponsored by Mills Motorsports with 415 points, and Andre Laurin, sponsored by MoTul sitting in fifth place with 408 points,” he added. “This highly competitive class has all five top teams within 26 points of each other after four rounds and 1,650 miles of intense desert racing.”
UTV racing also sees some highly competitive drivers in the class.
“Seth Quintero, a Red Bull sponsored UTV driver, is leading the points in the UTV Pro Naturally Aspirated class by dominating the season. He is undefeated by winning all six rounds of competition and a win at the UTV Night Race will give him a perfect season and a class championship.
“Phil Blurton, returning event class winner and current class champion, will drive his No Limits-sponsored Can Am with a large points lead in the UTV Turbo class over ITP-sponsored Can Am driver Jason Murray and S3 Powersports Can Am driver Dustin Jones,” Jackson said. “Murray is ahead of Jones by only three points, and right on their heels is ITP-sponsored Polaris driver Mitch Guthrie Jr.; Romo Racing-sponsored Polaris driver Randy Romo; and Cognito-sponsored Polaris driver Justin Lambert. These five teams are separated by a mere 13 points after a grueling 1,900 miles of competition.”
Speaking of competition, the field isn’t limited to only the guys. Make some room for the ladies — Sierra Romo and Lacrecia Beurrier doing battle in their Polaris Turbo UTVs; Brook Jenson competes in her Polaris Sportsman UTV, while Madeline Wedeking drives her Polaris Naturally Aspirated UTV.
That is just a taste of what’s in store for off-road enthusiasts when the field of more than 200 drivers go head-to-head over the full weekend of racing.
Thursday and Friday are the most spectator-friendly portions of the event when the Tech Inspection & Contingency, Race Expo portion of the program takes place in the Tropicana Laughlin’s back parking lot. This is where race fans will have the opportunity to get up close and check out all of the race vehicles while they weave their way through contingency row filled with 50-65 vendors showcasing the hottest off-road and racing accessories from the industry’s top manufacturers.
UTV Tech & Contingency is Thursday, Oct. 10 (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.); Car and truck Contingency & Tech is Friday, Oct. 11 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.). UTV Night Racing starts Thursday, Oct. 10 (staging 5:45 p.m., starts 6:30 p.m.).
Racing action gets underway Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13, promptly at (6 a.m.). Admission for all spectators is a $5 parking fee donation to benefit the Laughlin Volunteers In Partnership. This year, spectators may park only at the Laughlin Events Park. There is no parking at the high school. That area will be closed. For more information visit www.BITD.com.

Schedule of Events
(subject to last-minute changes)

Wednesday, Oct. 9
Registration for the Time Trials for Trick Trucks, Class 1500 and 6100, Tropicana Laughlin Pavilion Room (6 p.m.-8 p.m.)
UTV early tech, Hot Pit (1 p.m.-6 p.m.)

Thursday, Oct. 10
One escorted practice lap for the time trials, time trials immediately follow (7:30 staging, 8:30 a.m. meeting, 9 a.m. escort begins)
UTV Tech & Contingency, Tropicana back parking lot (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.)
UTV Registration, Tropicana Laughlin Pavilion Room (10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), UTV driver’s meeting, Tropicana Laughlin Pavilion Room (4 p.m.).
1st UTV Staging and Night Race Start (5:45); 2nd UTV staging and race start (9:15 p.m.)

Friday, Oct. 11
Drivers Registration, Tropicana Laughlin Pavilion Room (10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.)
Car/Truck Tech & Contingency, Event Expo, Tropicana back parking lot (10 a.m.-6 p.m.).
UTV Awards, Tropicana Laughlin Pavilion Room (noon)

Saturday, Oct. 12
First race of the day starts (6 a.m.)
1st Race (3 laps) – 1100-1200-1700-2700-3700-7100-7300-8100-VINT
2nd Race (4 laps) – Class –2000-3000-4400-4700-5000-6000
3rd Race (4 laps) – Class 1000-1500-6200-7200
4th Race (4 laps) – Class 6100-8000
5th Race (4 laps) – Trick Truck Race
Laughlin Leap Registration, BITD Box Van (5 p.m.-6 p.m.)
Laughlin Leap (7 p.m.)

Sunday, October 13
Race Day 2 starts (6 a.m.)
1st Race (3 laps) – 1100-1200-1700-2700-3700-7100-7300-8100-VINT
2nd Race (4 laps) – Class 2000-3000-4400-4700-5000-6000
3rd Race (4 laps) – Class 1000-1500-6200-7200
4th Race (4 laps) – Class 6100-8000
5th Race (4 laps) – Trick Truck Race
Cars/Trucks, Awards at Harrah’s Laughlin Banquet Room, located behind the buffet (7 p.m.)