Once again Best in the Desert put on the point to point longest off-road race in America, beginning in Beatty, NV ending 545 miles in Dayton, NV. The course included everything imaginable from sand to rocks to wash-outs to high speed rollers, cliffs, and everything in between. Sam had made several changes to his transmission and clutch set ups to increase the durability of the car. When testing at Barstow he was happy with the performance of the car. We loaded her up and headed to Vegas for qualifying.
The location of the qualifying course was supposed to be top secret. In a way it was, but it was in the same area they usually qualify out by the Apex. BITD did create a new track, which no one had ran before. Sam and his Team had discussed how he should go about running this time trial and decided to run it a little conservative to save the car for the long grueling race to Reno. We were hoping to land in the top 10 or 15th spot. He was successful at getting the 14th position. Sam and Team Margarita were happy with their spot and how they would proceed with the upcoming race. Come Friday we did not have our full crew but we had enough to cover all the pits along the way by leapfrogging each other. Lou and Lil Don headed for pit one, while Don and Ellen went to pit two, Brian, Rusty, Chelsey, Troy, and Brian’s cousin Phil all went to pit three.
Bob and Lois stayed at the start line with the hauler, and saw Sam off at the start. Sam was being conservative at the beginning of the race and letting the race come to him through the first three check points where he had unofficially moved up to 8th position. At pit four, Goldfield, everyone congregated for a fuel stop and checked the car over. This fuel stop was almost flawless, 3 dump cans of fuel, quick drink of Gatorade and Sam was on his way in 60 seconds. That was a hundred and fifty-five miles into the race. Things went real smooth, Sam was working his way up, at one point they had him second overall, first in class. Things were looking good until he had a flat which Sam changed in 5 minutes out on the course. Sam stopped at pit eight to exchange his flat for another spare, which cost him another thirty seconds and he proceeded on to Redlich where his whole crew was there to fuel him again. The team got him out in 55 seconds ahead of a couple of front runners. Sam again was working his way up to the front with a little of help from others having issues as well.
Somewhere between pit ten and pit twelve Sam was following a quad for quite a distance and went to pass it when his left rear tire struck a very large rock. He wiggled the car and assumed that everything was okay back there but after about seventy miles at mile marker 440 while going through the high speed whoops in fourth gear, that left rear wheel and trailing arm left the car and sent Sam out into the desert on a wild ride. Bob and Lois were the only ones that heard him call that we were done, just outside of Yerington. They headed back to alert the rest of the crew of the situation. Sam just so happened to be in the middle of nowhere. Lou Baker, who has traveled all these back roads, because he is a heavy equipment field mechanic, had a good idea of where he might be. He led us in on a dirt road, about twenty to twenty five miles in where we were able to get to Sam’s car and patch it up and drag him out and into the hauler.
Thank you Lou! Otherwise it could have been an all -nighter for Sam, before the BITD crew could have pulled him out. As for the car we were very pleased with how it was performing up until this point, but as they say, that’s racing!
As always, we would like to thank our sponsors for all their help and even the ones behind the scenes that don’t always get recognized for keeping Sam and Team Margarita on the track. See you in October at the Parker short course!