Despite some harrowing moments – including brake failure and veering off course into a ravine – Team OTSFF/MOTUL managed to persevere in one of the most gruelling off-road races on the Best in the Desert Racing Association’s schedule, the Silver State 300. Staged on May 5th in the vicinity of Alamo, Nevada, the hair-raising 300-mile desert course also featured extremely rugged terrain that climbs and drops over mountains and through valleys. Definitely not for the faint of heart and a challenge that saw more than half of the 325 entries, which included trucks, dune-buggies, UTVs, ATVs, and motorcycles, never reach the finish line. Team owner/driver Andre Laurin and navigator Kerry King, however, soldiered on to take their purpose-built 6100 Spec Trophy class truck, of which there were 25 entered in the event, to a noteworthy eighth overall finish.
Laurin, who is a relative newcomer to the off-road racing scene, wasn’t happy with his 14th place qualifying time, knowing it did not reflect the OTSFF/MOTUL truck’s actual top speed capability. But that just inspired him even more to pour on the gas in the 300-mile point-to-point race. At Race Mile 61, however, the brakes failed on the truck, which caused Laurin to miss a corner and careen off the course into a ravine. Fortunately, he was able to keep the truck under control, dropping it into first gear and steer it down the shale and boulder-strewn ravine. At the bottom he turned the vehicle around and powered it back up the incline. At this time the brakes were functioning at about 30% capacity.
After cresting the top of the ravine, Laurin and King continued down the race course to Pit 2, where the crew bled the brakes. It took around 45 minutes before the OTSFF/MOTUL truck was able to get back into the fray. Undaunted by the setback Laurin and King were soon tearing up the parched Nevada countryside at speed. However, while reeling in lost time, an electronic issue at Race Mile 81 caused the “fly by wire” throttle pedal to stop functioning. This resulted in the motor dropping into limp mode. Less than 100 miles had been completed and misfortune had struck again.
Fortunately, Adam Fitza, the team manager/mechanic/backup driver and the life-line that is in continuous communication with the driver and navigator, was nearby in the chase truck on the road not far from the race course. Fitza, who is not allowed on the race course with the chase truck other than designated pit areas, informed Laurin and King that he had a scan tool available that should be able to help fix the electronic problem. King ran the approximately half-mile to the highway, where Fitza was standing by, in order to retrieve the scanner. Although more valuable time was lost, King managed to rectify the problem and the OTSFF/MOTUL truck was off again.
No sooner where they back up to speed, though, when the adversity gremlin struck again. This time Laurin and King were betrayed by a flat right front tire. As they were only two miles from Pit 3, they opted to drive there on the flat tire. Fitza, who had zoomed down the highway in the chase truck, was already waiting there with a spare tire. He quickly changed the flat so Laurin and King were able to resume the race, with a minimum of further time lost.
After Pit 3, the duo was tearing down the course into the sunset … literally! While dreaded by many a driver, night time proved to be a friend for Laurin. He pushed the truck – fitted with powerful darkness-taming Rigid LED lights – harder than he had during the daylight run. Laurin flew past a number of rivals and shaved precious minutes off the time deficit the technical issues had brought about. When all was said and done Laurin and King, who had set off at 1:00 pm, crossed the finish line at 10:30 pm, having lost 1.5 hours making repairs.
“This off-road truck Baja stuff is really intense. Definitely the toughest discipline of motor racing I’ve ever been involved in. Racing up to eight hours, on a track that changes contours practically by the minute, is both mentally and physically exhausting,” Laurin said. “Although we all want to make it onto the podium, you can give yourself a pat on the back just for making it to the finish line. I’m fortunate to have a navigator like Kerry at my side. He not only makes sure I stay on course, he makes sure the truck keeps going and reaches the finish line.”
Team manager Fitza concurred: “Given the circumstances, I am pumped on the results of the Silver State 300. New truck, new team, and we finished. Finishing a race in itself is a win. Now it’s back to the drawing board to make this vehicle faster for our next event.”
Team OTSFF/MOTUL would like to thank all the individuals and companies for the invaluable support that helped make our participation in The Silver State 300 possible. You guys are awesome!
Next on the agenda for Team OTSFF/MOTUL is the “Vegas to Reno Run”. At approximately 550 miles, with 14+ pit stops, it is the longest off-road race in the United States. Vegas to Reno will be held on Friday, August 17th, and run into Saturday morning. Two sets of OTSFF/MOTUL driving teams will campaign this monstrous race: Laurin and Kerry will drive half of the course, Fitza and a yet to be announced navigator will drive the other half. To help ensure OTSFF/MOTUL has a reasonable chance to complete the point-to-point race, the team intends to have 2+ chase trucks for this event.