Mint 400 Golden For Trophylite’s PJ Guglielmo
Las Vegas, NV
“The Mint 400 is a big race,” said PJ Guglielmo, “We wanted our truck to be loud; maybe a little obnoxious.” Guglielmo was referring to the gold foil vehicle wrap that made his Trophylite look as if it was made of polished gold. It’s not easy to stand out at the Polaris RZR Mint 400 presented by General Tire
. Even the drawn out name has been snatched up by Polaris and General Tire who, like everyone else, wants to be a part of the largest off-road racing happening of the season.
With a long list of events, the crowning of Miss Mint 2015 Amy Scott, meet and greets with the drivers, a pit crew competition that saw the Olliges crew win in Trick Truck and the Cops crew take the 1500 title and the largest contingency row on Freemont Street since the heydays of the original Mint 400 race, it’s not easy to make a statement.
What started as a simple attempt to gain attention turned into a prediction as Guglielmo and his Children of the Dirt
team would take the gold on race day; after battling all day long with second place Andrew McLeod, he finished on the top spot of the podium.
“We got a lot of attention with the gold wrap,” says Guglielmo, “We might stick with it. At the beginning of the race my visor was fogged up. I had to leave it open so I was breathing in a lot of dust. It was still dark out and the course was dusty and filled with rocks. Maybe it was due to the rains, I don’t know but the course was filled with rocks the size of 5 gallon buckets. By mile 60, we had gone past 15 to 20 vehicles on the side of the course; it was still dark so you couldn’t tell who it was. The course was littered with broken parts and cars strewn everywhere.
I did my best to avoid hitting the rocks; I guess others tried to go through them. There were a couple sections of the course were poorly marked due to last minute changes. The gps track said to go left so we followed it but it took us off course for about two minutes. We had to turn around and go back. Once we got out in the lead, I tried to pour it on but we battled back and forth all day with the SWB team. They beat us out of the pits but we passed them back on the course. Every time we pitted it was a battle between pit crews to see who got out first. We got passed at the beginning of the race but we saved ourselves until the sun came up. Our KC HiLites
were awesome in the dark and we didn’t have a single flat to our General Tires
Second place Andrew McLeod and his SouthWest Boulder
team were fighting for the lead all day long. “We got passed by Abatti in the infield right off the start,” said McLeod, “The dust was so thick, we were driving by gps; that’s not a good thing. When the sun came up, I had to drive with one hand on the wheel and the other shielding my eyes from the sun. I had a couple of flats; one was when I was wiping the dust off my visor. When I saw the rock, it was too late. I tried to square it up but it was too big, I damaged the wheel and flatted the tire. Our crew had a great time bantering back and forth with the Guglielmo crew. My crew did a great job in the pits keeping us in contention for the win. I am really amazed at my sister. She finished third so we were both on the podium together. This is the best result we’ve had in Trophylite; we are looking forward to the next race.”
It was a great day for the McLeod family. Andrew took second place and Sister Megan finished third in her first Trophylite race. McLeod is the first female to land on the Trophylite podium. She was driving the Trophylite house rental truck made possible in part by Maxima Racing Oils
and K&N Filters
. Her brand new Trophylite truck is on order and she hopes to have the chassis plumbed, wired and fully assembled by the time Vegas to Reno comes along.
“I had about 5-10 minutes in the truck before the race just to see if everything worked ok,” says Megan McLeod, “I drove the entire first lap and then my crew chief Jason Pellanda got behind the wheel. The truck was solid but I had some nerves and a lot of excitement. I had a few scary oh-$h!T moments and wondered what have I gotten myself into but I’m super pumped. This was a test to see if I could hang with the boys. We were sitting around the campfire with Todd Jackson before the race when he told me a few tips about driving in the dust that really paid off. I think most of the guys in Trophylite want to be helpful; until the race starts.” Megan and co-driver Jason Pellanda earn the Metro Honda
/ Metro Acura
Hard Charger award for Megan’s charge from 9th to 3rd place on lap one and Jason’s solid driving to hold the position to the end.
Mike McLeod, Father to Andrew and Megan is very proud of his children. “For me, this was the best experience racing that I have ever had,” said Mike McLeod, “Megan was just supposed to get some seat time in a Trophylite but we watched her come from 9th place to 3rd on her lap; it was amazing.” When asked what it was like to have a Son and Daughter on the same podium he said, “Incredible moments like this don’t come along often so we will enjoy this while it’s happening.”
15 Trophylite trucks started the race and 8 finished. A couple teams overcame early problems to get back on the course but ran out of time on the last lap. The Mint 400 format had two races; race 1 in the morning and race 2 for the unlimited vehicles in the afternoon. It allowed the competitors in race one to run the entire race distance which many teams relished. The long laps that were over 100 miles in length gave them distance on the race 2 start but the added mileage also put them up against the time limit. One such team was the Abrams Security
team of Ian Abrams and Brandon Arciero.
They ripped the front suspension off their truck and had to hike out to get parts to repair it. They never gave up, just like at Parker when they earned the Metro Honda / Metro Acura Hard Charger Award but just ran out of time on the final lap. 2nd place in the points coming into the race, Braden Abatti lost a transmission and hurt the front suspension. The Mastercraft
Trick Truck crew, who were waiting until their start in race 2, jumped in to help swap the trans and repair the front end. Eventually, engine problems sidelined Abatti permanently.
The rough course also took a toll on the Trophylite R8 of Jim Riley. Running in the top five all day, he lost a torque converter only miles from the finish line. “We started the race off in the fourth position coming out of the short course in-field,” said Jim Riley, “We have a new truck set up from Damen Jefferies racing that allows us to stay with the lead pack. By race mile 65, we had passed the three trucks in front of us giving us a 4.5 minute lead. The second lap started with a race delay; bunching all the competitors up and creating a "push hard" scenario. After running up front for the entire day, we lost a torque converter 19.5 miles from a podium finish. Heartbreak is an understatement. The good news is that we have heard from all of our competitors congratulating us on a solid day of racing… WE ARE BACK! Thanks to our Damen Jefferies Prep job and an amazing support team, we showed the Azunia Tequila
trucks true potential.”
Jeff Proctor made it to the finish; taking fourth place in his Metro Honda
, Metro Acura
, Turnkey Marketing, Claremont Automotive Electronics Trophylite but it was his second 4th place finish in a row. He missed taking 3rd place by a meager 27 seconds. “Our team is getting much stronger,” says Jeff Proctor, “I am much more confident driving the truck harder because our prep is much better this year. As we continue to get stronger as a team, we will have consistently stronger finishes.”
5th place was the team of Mike Meachum, Brandon Hollander and FOX Shox’s
Joe Morgan. 6th place went to Jeff Mortis who ripped a brake line off but made repairs. 7th was points leader going into the race, Todd Jackson. He had to change a driveshaft during the race causing some down time. Once he got back under way, he laid down a blistering lap time of 2:20.50 to earn a coveted Oakley Bomb Award. The only driver to come close was winner PJ Guglielmo who ran a 2:25.
The final finisher was Chris Hall who does not make it to every race but when he does it’s spectacular. He hit a jump on lap one that kicked him in to one side in mid-air coming down hard on the right front tire. It didn’t slow him down but must have caused his heart rate to increase.
This is a special year in Trophylite. FOX Shox
is celebrating their 40 year anniversary and series sponsor General Tire
has an amazing 100 year anniversary; everyone wants to put their name in the history books this season. MasterCraft Safety
, Method Race Wheels
, Metro Honda
/ Metro Acura
, Maxima Racing Oils
, K&N Filters
, Magnaflow Exhaust
, PCI Race Radios
, Currie Enterprises
, Azuñia Tequila
, Children of the Dirt Apparel
, Tanimura & Antle
and Kreed Eyewear
by Fortress are also crucial to Trophylite’s success. Once final results are out, the points chase will be sorted out with some changes to the order. Racing resumes May 1-3 at the BITD Canidae Tap It Silver State 300
in Las Vegas, Nevada. The racers will weave their way through spectacular Northern Nevada terrain in a high speed shoot-out.
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
, K&N Filters
, PCI Race Radios
, Tanimura & Antle
, & Kreed Sunglasses you can cash in on the prize money that is up for grabs during the 2015 season.
Visit www.trophylite.com for more information.
About General Tire
About Bink Designs
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For 100 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, World Cup of Softball, 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 Mikey Childress, CJ Hutchins, Doug Fortin, Harley Letner, Jim Riley, Macrae Glass, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Ryan Beat, Carl Renezeder, Robby Woods and Camburg Racing.
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