Brutal Parker 425 Course Greets New Teams, New Trophylite Season
New teams or old, everyone got an equal pummeling in Parker, Arizona. As each lap of the Best in the Desert Parker 425 went by, the course got progressively worse. Despite the punishing terrain, Trophylite teams ran a relentless pace for the entire 425 miles. Unwilling to yield, some even ran door to door despite huge rocks and endless square edged bumps. Half way through the race there were 4 or 5 trucks that were in the hunt for the win. At the finish, it was the Premiere Garage Trophylite of Todd Jackson with the win, his second Parker win in a row. Braden Abatti and Brother Ben Abatti III finished a close second in their Baja Farms Trophylite followed by Andrew McLeod in the Southwest Boulder Trophylite. McLeod made a charge to close in on Jeff Proctor’s Metro Honda / Metro Acura Trophylite on the last lap; overtaking him for the final position on the podium.
In the short time between the final race of the season, the Henderson 250 and the Parker race, several teams took advantage of shock tuning hosted by FOX shocks, who is celebrating their 40th anniversary and a night time test session with KC HiLites to introduce the drivers to their Flex LED light.
KC HiLites and FOX join General Tire, (the entire field chose to run the aggressive red letter General Grabbers at this race), Mastercraft Safety, Impact, 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 to give racers in the Trophylite series the products and support they need to compete.
“The dust was horrible and the lack of wind made it even worse,” says Todd Jackson, “We started 5th with the goal of running a smooth clean race. I could tell right away we had a great truck; thanks to the countless hours my co-driver Mike Slater put into the prep. In a wash, I hit a rock hidden in a berm and got a flat. By the time we got going again, Abatti and Procter got by and were about 5 min. ahead. It took a lot of pushing but we finally caught back up to Procter and got by him. It was a tight pass but he is a great driver that I have all the faith in world in so we did it.
We then started to chip away at Abatti’s lead. We caught a slower car and all three of us went over the road jump at the same time. I don’t think he saw me on the other side of that slower car. Coming into the pits 5 seconds ahead of him was great until they had one of the fastest pits stops I have ever seen. Entering the course, I picked a line with smaller bumps that allowed us to barely squeak by. I tried to put some time on him so they wouldn’t pass me in the pits again! It worked out and we were able to stay in front all the way to the finish.”
Brothers Braden and Ben Abatti shared the driving duties with Ben starting the race and Braden driving the remaining two laps. “This is a great start to another great year for us,” said Ben Abatti III, “I got out to an early lead and handed the truck to Braden.” 17 year old Braden is the driver of record this season and will carry the number one plate for the Abatti team. “We went back and forth with Jackson for two laps until we hit the goat trail,” said Braden, “I hit a rock and had to change a tire. After that we just eased the truck to the finish to finish second. This gives us great momentum heading into the season.”
Third place finisher Andrew McLeod had to push hard to overtake Jeff Proctor for the final spot on the podium. “It was a hard one,” said McLeod, “It was one of the roughest to date on the equipment. We started second to last so we had a lot of dust on lap one. We climbed up to 4th place going into the second lap; there was a lot of silt and the course was much rougher. By the third lap it was not fun to be in the car. Despite the conditions we had no mechanicals during the race. The only thing that got beat up was the driver and co-driver. We hit more sharp rocks and boulders than ever; you could hear them scraping along the skid plate. I tried my best to take care of the truck and it paid off with one of our best races so far.”
4th place finisher Jeff Proctor was a little disappointed in missing the podium but was very happy to get a solid finish in such demanding conditions. “Our race went according to plan,” said Proctor, “I did have an issue with the throttle cable sticking. While battling with Jackson, I had to lift with my toe to pull the pedal back; it took a lot of energy to do that at the pace we were running. By the second lap the course was dug out pretty bad; it was gnarly. We rigged up a bungee cord to pull the throttle back during our pit stop and driver change. Kevin Davis took over the wheel on lap three. Kevin and I will be back at the Mint after a full prep on the truck to go all out for a podium.”
There were several racers who had bad luck at Parker. PJ Guglielmo had his spare driveshaft come loose on the Children of the Dirt Trophylite that punched a hole in the radiator hose and caused engine issues.
Newcomer Craig Spitz from nearby Lake Havasu suffered a transmission issue, George Mortis had some suspension and chassis damage but managed to finish 6th in his Artisan Wraps Trophylite.
He was heard to comment on the course being the roughest he’d seen and was grateful he had moved up into the Trophylite series this year as it would have been worse in the truck he raced last season. Jason Cobb and Nick Isenhouer put up a good fight but succumbed to the course as did Morgan and Ken Olson who came all the way from Wyoming to race their Extreme Truck Outfitters Trophylite.
A pair of rookies to the Trophylite series would not be deterred. Despite a huge crash on lap one, Loren Worthington and Brother Landon stacked rocks and used their jack to upright their Abundant Water Wells Trophylite after going end over end twice. Logan Holladay took the wheel for laps 2 and 3. “We were in the dust when the crash happened,” says Worthington, “We are sore and have bruises from our belts but that’s it. I am very impressed with the truck and feel safe in it. We had a bad crash and despite the body being wrecked the light bar still bolted right on when we got to the pits. I am also impressed by the great work done by Baja pits and the help and encouragement we got from fellow Trophylite competitors; you don’t see that often. We had a leaking steering rack but we made it to the finish with decent points. Those points will come in handy towards the Rookie of the Year standings that we are going for.”
Another Trophylite rookie going for the title is Brandon Arciero. He and Abrams Protection Group Trophylite owner Ian Abrams overcame nagging issues to cross the line at 11:00 pm. “We had computer problems that put the truck into limp mode,” said Arciero, “I kept hitting the ignition reset button to get the truck to run. When it was running I could feel that the motor had good power and really wanted to go. We also had some vapor lock issues but I might have gotten it a little too hot in a sandy section. I was pushing the truck trying to stay out of the way of the unlimited trucks and was not watching the gauges.
We were committed to getting a finish at our first race. It was a lot of fun; some high speed, some technical and even some rock crawling on the course. I learned a lot about the truck and we earned points. I will be racing for the Rookie of the year title.” Brandon earned some points and was awarded the Metro Honda / Metro Acura, Hard Charger award and a $500 cash bonus. The Metro Honda/ Metro Acura, Superior Performance award and $500 cash bonus went to race winner Todd Jackson.
With a strong sense of accomplishment and maybe a touch of relief, the Trophylite teams will toast their successes and heal their wounds before heading to another tough race, The Mint 400 on March 13, 14 and 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada where the fierce competition shown in Parker will continue.
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.
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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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