For several years, talk in the desert racing off-road world has been the eventuality of four-wheel drive unlimited trucks as the sport’s next evolution. While history shows that two-wheel unlimited vehicles have dominated the overall victory columns, Justin Matney’s win at yesterday’s Best in The Desert (BITD) VT Construction Silver State 300 might indeed be a harbinger of things to come.
Taking full advantage of his Geiser Brothers-built four-wheel drive Trick Truck over a 301-mile desert course highlighted by rally-style roads, Matney, along with co-driver Kellon Walch, piloted their No. 4 RPM Off-Road sponsored machine to the well-earned victory. Taking the checkered flag wasn’t a simple task, as Matney played the patience game to perfection with both pole winner Jason Voss (No.1 King Shocks Trick Truck) and the No. 41 Fox Racing Shox Trick Truck of Justin Lofton taking the P1 position only to succumb to mechanical issues. The 32-year old desert veteran, who hails from the unlikely home of Bristol, Tenn., stopped the timing clocks in a time of 5:15.33 and beat a hard-charging Justin “Bean” Smith (Las Vegas) driving Canadian Tracy Graf’s No. 58 Ford Trick Truck by just under six minutes.
Led by owner and racer Clyde Stacy, the RPM Racing team has long partnered with the Arizona-based Geiser Brothers to push the development of new desert racing technology, often entering multiple trucks and cars in a variety of classes. Four-wheel drive unlimited trucks have been tried in the past (most notably by the Herbst family), but their time might be coming despite added weight, complexity, cost and traditionally limited vertical wheel travel.
Matney’s performance represents the third different BITD overall winner in 2018, with Andy McMillin claiming the season opener at Parker, Arizona and Bryce Menzies taking the BFGoodrich Mint 400 in March.
In the unlimited open wheel buggy (Class 1500) ranks, pole-sitter CJ Hutchins led for much of the day, but suffered terminal issues, opening the door for Las Vegas resident Ladd Gilbert to take top honors and third place overall in his No. 1562 Jimco-Chevy. Gilbert beat fellow Las Vegas desert veteran Pat Dean’s No. 1575 Bunderson-Chevy by just under five minutes.
The top five was completed by the fourth-place performance of second-generation racer Brett Sourapas in his No. 88 Coors Light Herbst/Smith-built Ford, followed by Mesa, Arizona, driver Johnny Angal in the No. 63 Polaris RZR-back Geiser Ford.
Other performances of note included 18-year old Brock Heger (pictured above) taking the Class 1000 victory and a 15th-place overall position driving the limited displacement No. 1001 Method Wheels-backed Alumi Craft-Chevy, as well as Oceanside, California’s Corey Terry overcoming a highly competitive Class 6100 field in his No. 6189 Ford truck.
In the equally competitive BITD tires wars BFGoodrich took four of the top five positions, with Toyo Tires being well represented by Ladd Gilbert (below).
Best in the Desert racers will next tackle the General Tire “Vegas to Reno” presented by Fox Shox event scheduled for August 15-18. The annual run up the Nevada desert represents the long point-to-point desert race in America.