Trophylite Racer Ben Abatti III Left Nothing To Chance At General Tire Mint 400
Las Vegas, NV
There are two schools of thought in off-road racing; you can out think your competition or just flat outrun them. At the General Tire Mint 400 presented by Polaris, Ben Abatti III and defending champ PJ Guglielmo chose the latter. The Mint 400 is run outside Las Vegas, Nevada in some rather nasty desert terrain. It’s known for chewing up race trucks and drivers. To go flat out from the drop of the green flag takes guts and a deep trust in your crew and equipment. For Ben Abatti, his confidence came from a major upgrade to his Trophylite race truck. He has been racing an early chassis which was starting to show its age. After the last race, the front and rear chassis and suspension was replaced with all the latest revisions including a new 35 spline Currie Enterprise rear end assembly.
“It was like a brand new truck,” said Ben, “The Mint has not been too kind to me in the past but we had a lot of confidence in our Trophylite going into this race.” Ben was first off the line and was determined to stay in the lead. “PJ was right there so we knew we had to put time on him. We both flattened a tire going into pit B. His crew got him out first but we quickly passed him back. We had a brake issue on the second lap but the crew got it fixed in a hurry.”
On the final lap Ben felt a vibration and thought he had a flat tire. They jumped out of the truck to discover a hard blow from a rock had bent the wheel but his General Tire was still holding air so they charged ahead to the finish line. “It was nice to get a win; especially at the Mint. This will move us up in the points. We are real excited to get to the Silver State race and do it all again.”
“That was out of control!” said PJ Guglielmo, “We chased Abatti all day long! He was right there; we could see him but we could not get him; it was killer.” PJ’s race was filled with excitement. “We were going flat out down the paved road after the quarry in the dust and the 90 degree turn at the end caught us by surprise. We did a 360 and slide sideways into the bank just missing the cars that were in front of us.” PJ’s aggressive driving did not go unnoticed. He was awarded the Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger award. “That’s awesome,” said PJ when informed about the award, “I know there were a couple of guys that were really going for it. I’m really stoked, we went for it!”
Finishing third was Todd Jackson who has landed on the podium twice in only two races driving the Trophylite house rental. He won his first race at Parker and followed it up with a third place finish at the Mint. Todd charged from 6th on the last lap all the way up to 3rd at the finish.
Fourth place was first time Trophylite racer Keith Sato. Keith is no stranger to racing. He and race partner Eric Helgeson have years of combined racing experience in several classes. “I am really impressed with the Trophylite series,” says Keith, “Everyone is super cool; we had a great time. We are going to finish the entire season. I can’t say enough about how excited we are. I like the totally positive feel and the family atmosphere plus the extra support that Trophylite provides. Everyone is ready to jump in and help if needed. We wanted to take it easy; we would take a last place over a dnf, (did not finish). I hit a boulder and cleaned two tires off the truck but nothing broke so we were able to get a solid finish.”
Jeff Proctor was running up in third until he tipped his truck over. “We had a bunch of little problems all day,” says Jeff, “Kevin Davis and Justin Grossmann started the race. They hit a rock hard enough to bend the Method wheel into the brake caliper.” Those Method Race Wheels are tough; they had to beat the rim back with a hammer to get the wheel off. “When I got in the car with Jason Riviera there was a brake issue that slowed us. We were getting great gas mileage so we did not have to stop at pit B for a splash of fuel like we thought. As we headed out from main pit the truck felt loose. We started to swap out and with tired brakes I could not save it; we rolled into a ditch. We were real close to an access road so it seemed like only a couple minutes before Best in the Desert was there to get us back on our wheels. We saw two Trophylites go past but there was no major damage so we were off again. 10 miles from the finish, the motor started to make bad noises.” Maxima Racing Oils protect the engines in the Trophylite series but motors just aren’t designed to run upside down. “We barely made it up that last hill before the finish and coasted across the line with our KC Hilites shinning the way. We will replace the body panels and figure out what’s wrong with the engine; we’ll be ready for the Silver State. I’m just thrilled to be a part of this series; it’s a great class to race in.”
Jeff Mortis had a great race going until a power steering servo failed. It was replaced in the Trophylite main pit on the 2nd lap. He battled back and was doing well but then flipped the truck. He still wouldn’t give up; he brought the truck home in sixth place. Brian Antle was on pace as well. On the last lap when everyone was charging, he broke a tie rod bolt. He got it replaced and finished seventh.
Jim Riley had a ton of fun in the days leading up to the race. The special events in Vegas were a blast; even more so with the special Mint 400 Vodka Azunia released just for the race. “Race day came just in time to save ourselves from the wonderful bars and casinos that downtown Vegas has to offer,” Said Jim with a laugh, “We won the drag race off the line in the Azunia Tequila Trophylite R8 and must have passed a dozen broken down vehicles in the first 6 miles. All systems were go until we developed a mechanical issue that stopped us short. We spent 6 hours chasing down the issue before we had to pull the plug; beaten once again by the Mint 400.”
Don’t worry, Jim and his crew won’t be down for long. With strong support from General Tire, Mastercraft Safety, Impact, Method Race Wheels, Azuñia Tequila, Maxima Racing Oils, FOX Racing Shox, Metro Honda / Metro Acura, Currie Enterprises, Children of the Dirt Apparel, Tanimura & Antle, Baja Junkies and Kreed Eyewear by Fortress they will be ready to go along with the rest of the Trophylite racers when racing resumes. The fast lap winner is Ben Abatti. We know why PJ had such a tough time catching him. He ran a 01:55:18.804 time on lap two. The $50 bonus offered by 239 Films will be a little sweeter because Trophylite website designer CDvideoweb.com has added an additional $200 to the fast lap pot. The next race will be the BITD Canidae Tap It Silverstate 300 May 2-4.
If you would like to compete, go to www.trophylite.com and find out how easy it is to get started racing in the Trophylite Race Series.
Photography By: Bink Designs
About 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, Metro Honda, Metro Acura, Currie Enterprises, Mastercraft Safety, Impact
, Method Race Wheels, Azunia Tequila, Maxima Racing Oils, FOX
, Children of The Dirt
, Tanimura & Antle
, & Kreed Sunglasses you can cash in on the prize money that is up for grabs during the 2014 season.
Visit www.trophylite.com for more information.
About General Tire
For 99 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, FreestyleMx.com Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed. Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including CJ Hutchins, Garrick Freitas, Harley Letner, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell/Jerry Whelchel/ (Camburg), Jim Riley, Justin Lofton, Macrae Glass, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Steve Alexander, Steve La Roza, Ryan Beat, Carl Renezeder, and Robby Woods.
Visit // www.generaltire.com
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Bink Designs is a premier graphic design company located in San Diego, CA. Since 2003, Bink Designs has been committed to providing cost-effective solutions for clients’ high-end graphic needs. Bink Designs will work with you to develop a strategy that matches your goals. Bink Designs offers a number of services, including: Identity, Print Design, Vinyl Graphics, Web Design, Photography & Apparel.
With provisional sales of around €33.3 billion in 2013, 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 to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has more than 177,000 employees in 46 countries.
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