Thursday, March 31, 2011

Racing the Infamous MINT 400!

Our Team Beat The punishMINT 400 and Won!

We didn’t stand on the podium, we weren’t the fastest car out there, we did not pose excitement for all the photographers and we may not make the video but our Team - The Dirt Mob, scored a major victory when it comes to Team Work and a “never say die” attitude - a mental state that pushed the, #177 Truggy across the finish line with time to spare.

Desert Racing is a sport of skill, experience, lots of hard work, some money, some luck but most of all it’s about The Team. Without this team, no car or truck ever makes it to the starting line and most definitely, no vehicle ever makes it makes it to the finish line.

Now for the whole story.. It’s a good one!

It all started out on Thursday night where the teams and their vehicles are available on Fremont Street in old ‘Vegas for the enjoyment of the fans. Dave Erickson signed up a great gal to help promote our brand and team and we pretty much stole the crowd's attention away from General Tire and other big outfits. Good job Amber, you are a sweetheart all around!

Thanks Amber!

On race day, Dave Erickson and I started the race at 35th off the line amidst some of the fastest in the sport in both Class 1 “unlimited” and Trophy Truck. We immediately settled down into a 75% race pace, on plan to stay in line, pick off those with less self control and hand the car off to Joe Desrosiers and John McMurrin to put the heat on and finish well.

The course was simply brutal. It never gets better year to year, only worse. There are no bladed roads like Best in The Desert, not a one – just the nastiest washes, silt beds, rock fields and totally beat down, whooped-out race course you can experience in North America. Some say that the Mint 400 has regained the title of The toughest off-road race in North America”, I agree!

Pat and Dave at speed!

We made decent pace, passing a few and being passed as well and pulled into our primary PIT at race mile 72 a few cars ahead of our starting order. This pit was important to gauge fuel consumption. The fueling revealed high fuel use and that our rear transfer pump was not working. Now we would need to fuel twice per lap instead of just once, each time around. We also suffered a leaking transmission cooler that got a lot worse in the next 35 miles as we headed to the start/finish line and the main pit area.

At the main pit, The Dirt Mob made the decision to bypass the leaking cooler and replace the fuel pump. All told we were down for repairs for about 45-50 minutes.

Dirt Mob in the PIT!

We set off on the same conservative pace for the second lap and immediately lost the alternator. The battery voltage was dropping fairly fast and the only way to save it was to back off a bit more and use the cooling fans only when needed. With no fans and one of three trans coolers down, we really had to juggle speed, cool down stops and high transmission temps. We were not sure if the fuel pump was fixed so we had The Dirt Mob dump fuel again at Pit B near the half way point of each lap. We also informed them of the alternator issue for replacement at Pit D.

In Pit D, the alternator was changed and the second bad fuel pump was replaced and some wiring was bypassed. Joe and John now had the car and were off.

Joe and John go!

At race mile 56, on lap 3, they broke the lower a-arm also bending the steering tie-rod, putting them on the side of the course until they rigged up a fix and limped the car out to Pit C where the good people of COPS Racing loaned us a welder to make a more permanent fix and our friends of Car #144 (Jim Knox) lent us a replacement tie-rod. All told, we lost over two and a half hours with this problem.

At Pit A at the end of lap 3, the Dunn-Tech crew found some loose fasteners and a cracked sway bar arm. All fixes were made in about 15 minutes and the car was off. Back in the race and heading to a finish after lap 4, Joe and John drove into the night. Altercations with the front bumper and other cars smashed a few HID lights while Joe and John made the fastest night lap of the race in two hours and 39 minutes.

The beauty of a night race!

#177 crossed the finish line just after 10:15pm, 8th in class and 63rd overall after 15 hours and 15 minutes on course. This makes 4 finishes for 4 starts in a new car and we’ll take that, especially at the Toughest Race in North America!

Thanks are in order for:
  • Wide Voice, LLC
  • Joe Hauler Motorcycle Carriers
  • Dirt Racer Pics
  • The Dirt Mob
  • "FCC Dave" Erickson
  • "Joe Hauler" Desrosiers
  • John "USMCGUNROCK" McMurrin
  • Allen "Martein" Burris
  • Jimmy "JFD" Delaney
  • Ryan Cohee
  • Brian Shannon
  • "Buffalo Dave" Stalter
  • Kenny Schwartz
  • Tommy Koch
  • Greg Ostwinch
  • Fred "Gunny" Mooney
  • Marc Lewis
  • "Cadillac Bob" Gunion
  • Reed Chicas
  • "Yucca Mike" Shannon
  • Todd "Wheezy" McMiniment
  • Cindy "Crazy Daisy"
  • Lisa Burris
  • Sue Shannon
  • Molly Koch
  • Keala Chicas
  • Lauren McMurrin
  • Libben Schwartz
  • Teri Shannon
  • Lindsey McMiniment
  • Linda Gunion
  • Sean Dunn
  • The Checkers
  • Jim Knox and everyone with car #144
  • Tim Scott and everyone with car #1051
  • Adam Jacob of
  • Chris Macy of
  • COPS Racing
  • S.N.O.R.E.
  • The Moapa Band of Paiutes, Indian Tribe
  • The BLM

Finishing this race with such an outstanding team effort will never be forgotten. It will be the lore of many campfire stories for our friends, family, their kids and beyond. This collective pride of accomplishment is what being an “American Desert Racer” is about. Congrats to you all that were involved and "thank you!" to our friends and fans. We all earned it!

Unofficial results can be found at:

Additional photos:

Left to right: Dave Erickson, Joe Desrosiers, Amber,
Reed Chicas, Cole Chicas, Pat Chicas, John McMurrin

#177 heading to MobTown!

Joe and John ready to go fast!

Racing into the night!

Joe and John at the Finish Line!!