Wheeler Morgan from Brawley, CA, races the chopper to the next turn on Friday's race day.
The Parker 425 kicked off the start of the Best In The Desert car and truck racing season last weekend in Parker, AZ with thousands of fans lining up to watch both days of racing.
In a first for the 425, the event was split in to two days to allow for the ever-growing classes of racing. This meant that qualifying was moved to Wednesday, contingency on Thursday, and racing on Friday and Saturday.
Qualifying was action packed as usual, with Harley Letner qualifying first in his Concrete Motorsports Trick Truck. Unfortunately, his race day didn’t go quite as well. Early on in the race, with the sun blinding him, he hit a rock at over 70mph and got a flat. Jason Voss passed him during his tire change and was able to maintain a 3 to 4 minute lead over Letner the entire race. However, their hopes of catching up were dashed when Kevin Thompson – the second half driver – lost a gear at mile 102 and let Jason Voss Run away with the lead.
Robbie Gordon surprised race fans with a 14th place qualifying position and was reportedly scolded for driving recklessly in the pits. However, the bigger surprise came on race day when Gordon didn’t start at all and left fans wondering where he went. It turned out that qualifying for Gordon was merely testing for his new “Unicorn” truck, making sure it was ready for the upcoming King Of Hammers this weekend. While some fans were disappointed, most I talked to seem to take it in stride, looking forward to see what he can do at KOH.
There were also scary moments during Wednesdays qualifying round when Andrew Whitehead suffered serious injuries during a violent crash in his YouTheory Racing Trick Truck. However, it has since been reported that he underwent surgery for his injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. We here at RDP extend our best wishes.
Splitting the race into two days appeared to be a good move for Best In The Desert. The goal was to allow classes of similar setup and speed to run together, reducing bottlenecks, and increasing safety and response on the track. It also had the added benefit of allowing most teams to finish the race under daylight, due to smaller starting groups. However, the unexpected consequence for media and fans was a lower car count on the course making for longer waits between teams passing by.
Speaking of race fans, it should be noted that Best In The Desert has come a long way in controlling the spectators for the safest possible outcome. They’ve done an excellent job of creating a safe viewing zone, while still making it enjoyable for the fans. And for their part, the fans deserver credit too, for realizing the true dangers on the course and cooperating with officials to keep a safe distance.
By the numbers, nobody seems to mind. Every spectator area was jam packed with fans on both days, turning the roadsides into parking lot parties. Some did it better than others, for instance, when one couple even brought their pontoon boat to use as a personal grandstand. But regardless of how they did it, everyone was having a good time.
The Parker 425 is a special race for the Southwest area because it not only signals the start of offroad racing season, but it gives us all a glimpse into what teams have been up to in the off season, and who is looking strong for the championship. Offroad fans look forward to this race all winter and come from far and wide to take part.
In the end, Jason Voss took first in Trick Truck, with Tracy Graf in 2nd, and Justin Lofton in 3rd.
There are obviously too many classes to list all winners, so we’ve provided a link to the official Best In The Desert Results, here.
With race season officially underway, we’re excited to follow all the action and bring it to you here on RDP.