Trophylite teams put in countless hours of hard work and sacrifice to compete in the longest off road race in the United States, Best in the Desert’s General Tire Vegas to Reno (V2R).  The V2R course traverses 550 miles of varied terrain. It rises high into the mountains and navigates the many washes that cut through the lowest valleys. 
2013 General Tire Trophy Lite Race Series, Kevin Smith, BITD Vegas To Reno, KC Hilites, Mastercraft Safety, Method Race Wheels, Azunia Tequila, Impact, Fox
Trophylites Take On the Longest Off Road Race in the United States

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Las Vegas, NV

Trophylite teams put in countless hours of hard work and sacrifice to compete in the longest off road race in the United States, Best in the Desert’s General Tire Vegas to Reno (V2R).  The V2R course traverses 550 miles of varied terrain. It rises high into the mountains and navigates the many washes that cut through the lowest valleys. Like the course, teams fortunes can rise and fall during the race as well. The race winning team of Perry and Jeff Coan, Kevin Smith and Skyler Gambrell overcame everything in their path to take the victory.

Kevin Smith, Perry Coan, Trophylite, Fox, Method Race Wheels

Perry was unable to perform his usual duties; he was an ocean away in Ireland, giving direction over the phone. At least they had Jeff there, who is wheelchair bound due to ALS, to anchor the team. Skyler saw to that by installing some complicated rigging in Jeff's motorhome so he could make the journey.

Kevin Smith started the truck fourth but had the lead by the time he reached pit two. Kevin, who has a long and prestigious racing resume, rolled the truck one and a half times entering pit three. With only fiberglass damage to his Trophylite and minor damage to his ego, he turned the truck over to Skyler to take it to the finish.

“I want to thank my brother Jeff for always being there and apologize for not being there myself,” said Perry, “I would also like to thank Kevin Smith and Dakar winning, Baja winning and now Vegas to Reno winning Skyler Gambrell for making me look better than I could doing it myself. Of course, huge thanks go to Trophylite, BITD, General Tire, and KC Hilites. We won on the Grabber tires this race and didn’t have a single flat.

The Father and Son team of Benny Abatti II and Ben Abatti III had their own problems to overcome on their way to a second place finish. “My Dad started the race and drove until pit 5,” said Ben Abatti III, “At mile twelve, the truck started to run hot. We made good time while we were on course, overtaking other trucks but
we got passed while in the pits refilling the radiator water. Once the sun went down, we had no more over-heating issues. I was pushing hard going for the win when we came upon a car stuck in the silt. Even with our new 50" KC LED lightbar, the dust was so thick I didn’t see them until we were right on top of them. We ran into them and then got hit from behind by another truck. Everyone was ok and we got going again but the shifter was now acting up. We went as hard as we could and wound up second.”

Ben Abatti III, Trophylite, Vegas To Reno, General Tire, Bink Designs

Third place went to PJ Guglielmo who had a tough go all day. “We rode with bags of ice in our laps to pack on the fuel pumps,” said PJ, “In the first 300 miles my co-rider was out of the truck 18 times. After the sun went down the truck came alive but we still had to deal with deep silt and blinding dust. We hit a g-out so hard the truck shut off. We got it going again but did not have all of our lights. The last 30 miles were super rough. Every heim joint on the truck is loose.” PJ was another truck that finished the entire race without a single flat running the General AT-2.  PJ and the Coan’s have been going back and forth for the points lead all season.

PJ Guglielmo, Children of the dirt, Trophylite, Mastercraft Safety, General Tire

For Larry Schmueser, Vegas to Reno marks his team’s first finish. “We had problems at Parker and then the Mint,” says Larry, “We were determined to finish this one. The fact that we made it to the end of the grand daddy makes us very excited. Our goal from the start was just to finish. Now that we know we can run a steady pace we can now concentrate on going fast.”

Larry Schmueser, Vegas To Reno, BITD, Off Road, KC Hilites, Bink Designs

There was one Trophylite team that really stands out from the rest. Ryan Murphy, who works for the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department ran number 6019. The 19 was to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill fire. While members of his team where still cleaning up their homes that were damaged in the fire, they managed to prep the truck and make it to the race. They had some tough luck on raceday; rolling the truck in the early going. They got it righted and back underway but Ryan and co-rider Dale Wright were a little banged up so they turned the truck over to Doc Chandler and Steve Kirkby until they could get their wits back. The motor was hydro-locked when upside down so they pulled the plugs and drained the oil out of the cylinders. Unfortunately, the motor only lasted a couple miles; it threw a rod ending their day. “It meant a lot to us to carry the flag of our lost brothers,” said Ryan, “I just wished we could have done better.” The fact that they made it to the race at all with the hardships and heavy hearts they had was a victory in itself. The team might not have posted impressive results but they were a source of inspiration to many.

Ryan Murphy, Arizona Fire Department, Trophylite, Vegas To Reno

Jim Riley and the Azunia Tequila / General Tire R8 crew put in an inspiring performance too. They had an engine management problem that plagued them the entire race. Rick L Johnson started the race but got out of the truck when problems persisted. Jim Riley took over the wheel and embarked on an exhaustive struggle to get the truck to the finish. Jim, Co-rider Andy Grider and the crew absolutely refused to give up.

Azunia Tequila, General Tire, Trophylite R8, Jim Riley, Rick Johnson

They found a bad coilpack on one cylinder. Without a replacement, they bought one from Team Ford in Las Vegas and got the part to pit three. It took them 8 hours to cover the first 100 miles but they worked and scratched and worked some more until they finally finished the entire 550 miles at 5:05 the following morning. “The other Trophylite teams and the Jeepspeed guys would stop and offer to help,” says Andy Grider, “That was a great show of sportsmanship on their part. After we got a few things fixed, the truck ran great and we ran a good pace to the finish.”

Congratulations go out to all the teams who took on the challenge of the longest off road race in the United States, Vegas to Reno. 

Complete Results (7 out of 11 Finished):
1. Coan Racing
2. Ben Abatti II / III
3. PJ Guglielmo
4. Larry Schmueser
5. Michael McLeod
6. Mike McCarthy
7. Chris Wacker
The series will switch gears next as they head to Parker, Arizona October 11- 13 for the Blue Water Challenge. Instead of covering huge distances in the open desert, they will be shooting it out in a two day heat race format in the deep sand and rocky hills of the Parker course.

Photography By Bink Designs
General Tire Trophylite Race SeriesAbout Trophy Lite 
The General Tire Trophylite Race Series was created to provide an affordable alternative to the high cost of racing. Drivers are pitted against each other in identical vehicles that provide the thrill of competitive offroad racing without the million dollar price tag. All Trophylite race vehicles are precisely constructed to maintain parity and use the finest quality components available.  Trophylite allows you to compete in a fun, fast, race proven vehicle right out of the box. With generous sponsorship from General Tire, KC Hilites, Mastercraft Safety, Method Race Wheels, Azunia Tequila, Maxima Racing OilsImpact & FOX you can cash in on the $50,000 in prize money that is up for grabs during the 2013 season. Visit for more information.

About General Tire
For more than 95 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs.  General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, Best in the Desert Racing Series, Major League Fishing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late-Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, American Sprint Car Series, Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed.  Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including Banning Motorsports, CJ Hutchins, Garrick Freitas, Harley Letner, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell/Jerry Whelchel (Camburg), Jim Riley, Justin Lofton, Macrae Glass, Mike Childress, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Rick L. Johnson, Sean Backus, Steve Alexander, Carey Hart/Josh Merrell/Ryan Beat/Rob Naughton (Hart & Huntington), Carl Renezeder, Casey Currie, Kyle Lucas, Robby Woods, Ryan “Fluffer” Hagy, Marc Burnett, and Johnny Campbell.

General Tire is part of Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. ( CTA, based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is a company of Germany-based Continental AG. With sales of approximately €20 billion in 2009 Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has close to 160,000 employees in 45 countries.

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