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Best in the Desert Silver State 300 won by Torchmate Racing Team
A rumble went through the sleepy town of Alamo, Nevada. It didn’t come from the nearby Extraterrestrial Highway or Area 51. It was the sound of modified trucks starting their engines for the Best in the Desert Silver State 300 race.
The Best in the Desert Silver State 300 race began in Alamo, Nevada near the Extraterrestrial Highway and Area 51, photo by Mike Aiello
Brad Lovell went to Alamo prepared. A few weeks before the race, he and driver Bill Kunz did a test run. “When it was over I had a notepad with nearly 500 illegible notes that I had to input into our computer,” said Lovell. “It was my legend that pointed out pitfalls, obstructions or holes on the desert course that we would have to avoid. I loaded the file of information on the morning of the race and pondered the circumstances of mislabeling hazardous sections.”
Torchmate Ranger has a 4.5 liter Ford motor originally designed for NASCAR, photo by Mike Aiello
Torchmate Ford Ranger Team won the Best in the Desert Silver State 300 race by 5 minutes and 17 seconds, photo by Mike Aiello
The Silver State 300 is a single loop around the most desolate areas of Eastern Nevada. Trucks power through a variety of terrain with smooth roads, rocky silt, water and dust. Kuntz drove the entire 322 miles and Lovell navigated the No. 7231 Torchmate Ford Ranger. The rest of the Torchmate Racing Team was there for logistic and pit support.
“We raced in Class 7 which is for unlimited mid-size trucks,” said Lovell. “The only restrictions were a 6 cylinder motor and maximum overall width. Our Torchmate Ranger is a 7200 truck which was built around a stock frame. We put in countless hours of custom fabrication. It also has a fire breathing 4.5 liter Ford motor originally designed for NASCAR and a K&N air filter.”
The Torchmate Crew forgot to take new K&N air filters to the Silver State 300. “We had the same filter on the Ranger that we used in the Best in the Desert
Vegas to Reno 1000 mile race
,” said Lovell. “We just washed it, put some oil on it and put it back in the truck before the race. Our K&N air filters do their job every time.”
Kuntz and Lovell darted from the start line second in their class. At about 35 miles into the race the Torchmate Team caught up to the leader but lost him again in the blinding silt. “Luckily he pulled off at the first pit and we were able to get some clean air,” said Lovell. “We set a good pace but soon noticed Al Hogan on our tail. We pitted at race mile 90 and watched Hogan press forward to gain the lead. It was really difficult to be patient and not push it too hard but Bill kept his cool.”
About mile 120, the electrical power in the Torchmate Ranger cut out. “We were along a narrow stretch of mountain road,” said Lovell. “When we loosened our belts, Dave Caspino plowed into the back of our truck. That was okay, because it helped us get to the side of the road and avoid a worse crash.”
Lovell and Kuntz traced the problem to a loose battery terminal, and re-entered the race. They went forward another 30 miles and spotted a column of black smoke. Race officials forced everyone to stop. “Al Hogan hit a power pole with enough force to completely knock it over,” said Lovell. “The power lines fell onto the wrecked truck and started a fire. The crew somehow escaped but the truck burned to the ground. The only thing left from a one hundred thousand dollar race truck was one fender.”
The race resumed after the wreck was cleared. Officials staggered restart at 30 seconds apart. The restart worked out in the Torchmate Team’s favor because they were able to take fuel and maintain their position at the front of the pack.
“We ran clean for about 70 more miles,” said Lovell. “Then we started to get into the dust again which was blinding with the setting sun. I don’t know how Bill maintained his focus. My eyes felt like they were bleeding and I couldn’t see a thing.”
The Torchmate Team ran smart in the dust and did not take chances. “Finally the finish line came into our view and we took the checkered flag,” said Lovell. “After 322 miles we won by only 5 minutes and 17 seconds.”
The Torchmate Team will next convene in Farmington, New Mexico on October 3rd to battle for top honors at the WE-Rock Grand Nationals. From there, Lovell is off to the Baja 1000.
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K&N Engineering, Inc., with headquarters in Riverside, California, has been the world's leader in performance filter technology since 1969, serving the needs of the automotive, motorcycle, marine, industrial and military markets. K&N is heavily involved in nearly every form of motorsports from off-road and powersports to drag racing, stock cars and road racing. For more information about K&N Filters, please contact K&N Engineering, Inc., P.O. Box 1329, Riverside, CA 92502-1329, (800) 213-4182 for a dealer near you, (800) 858-3333 for technical service/questions, (951) 826-4001 Fax, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.knfilters.com.
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