The starting line of the Best in the Desert 1000 mile Vegas to Reno off-road race
Stuck in one of the most desolate areas in the United States, the Torchmate Ford Ranger crew waits for rescue
Brad Lovell is looking forward to the Primm 300 and the XRRA National Finals in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Two hundred race trucks kick up a blinding amount of silt across the desert floor from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada, photo by Chad Jock Photography
Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race is one of the longest and toughest point to point races in the United States, photo by Chad Jock Photography
The Torchmate Racing Team finished 4th in the 7200 class and 63rd overall in the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno 1000 mile race
“It’s also death defying at times,” said racer Brad Lovell. “But we did it to face challenges and test our abilities. We also tasted the freedom of the untamed wild.”
The BITD off highway race began in Nevada north of Pahrump and ran through Beatty, Tonopah and Hawthorne before it ended southeast of Dayton. “We prepared for this race for months,” said Lovell. “After near destruction in the Baja 500, our No. 7231 Torchmate Ford Ranger was completely rebuilt.”
Each day of the three day race covered 330 miles. A moving camp of RV’s repaired the vehicles at night. Bill Kunz and Lovell charged into the dust prepared to win. “Two hundred race trucks kicked a blinding amount of silt in the air and the dust hung around for hours,” said Lovell. “The plumes could be seen across the desert floor miles away.”
Drivers drove into dust storms at 60 mph without being able to see past the hoods of their trucks. “There were times when I could not see the GPS mounted in the dash,” said Lovell. “The danger of speed was real, but the danger of stopping was even greater. If one truck slowed down, the next truck would ram into it. It’s even worse if you have to exit your vehicle.”
Kunz and Lovell went into a dry lakebed and laid into the throttle when a bush came into their view. “I thought we were done,” said Lovell. “The No. 7231 smashed into it and was launched into the air at more than 80 mph. Bill managed to maintain control and 230 miles later we reached our pit, changed driver crews and rehydrated.”
Later, the No. 7231 had a bad accident. The truck struck a series of jumps that cascaded it into a barrel roll and nearly ripped it apart. “The No. 7231 was on its side with an injured driver and frantic navigator,” said Lovell. “Our navigator ran on foot over two miles across the desert back to the pit.”
The cage was heavily damaged above the driver door and parts were scattered across the desert. Medics arrived and brought the driver to the hospital in Reno. “There was nothing else we could do and we formed a plan to push on,” said Lovell. “Our team repaired the truck and we took off.”
Lovell said he was distracted and wondered about the condition of his injured teammate. “As we continued down the course we hit silt beds,” he said. “If you stop in silt, you will never get going again.”
About eight miles from the next camp at Mile 690, Lovell faced a huge silt hill with rough boulders. “Our best efforts failed and the injured truck floundered,” he said. “Despite our best efforts to get out our chase crew rescued us.”
The pit crew started making repairs around 3 am and stayed up all night. In the morning the final leg of the race began.
“After a total of 996 brutal miles we crossed the finish line,” said Lovell. “Our injured teammate rejoined us at the finish line after being discharged from the hospital in good spirits.” The team finished 4th in the 7200 class and 63rd overall.
Lovell is looking forward to the Primm 300 if the No.7231 can be repaired in time. He and his brother Roger will also race for the title in the XRRA National Finals in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Roger Lovell uses K&N products. “There is a lot of silt and fine dust on these courses but our K&N air filters keeps the debris out of our engines and prevents our sensors from clogging up,” he said. “We need K&N air filters on these difficult courses.”
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.