Reno, NV - The 2017 General Tire “Vegas to Reno” is considered a true American Off-Road Adventure and this year the course will be leading teams some 540 miles through some of the toughest terrain found in North America. Miles of silt beds threw dust in all directions as race vehicles travel through them however the winds were calm cutting visibility down to nearly zero for several minutes at a time before the slightest hint of the course would appear. There are 14 pit locations along the course ranging from 25 to 55 miles apart allowing teams to stop to make repairs if needed and fuel up, change drivers, tires or other equipment that had been utilized on course.
Thursday morning brings Tech and Contingency in the parking lot of the Texas Station Gambling Hall in North Las Vegas. The Children of the Dirt team made their way through the contingency line visiting their sponsors along the way. Safecraft Safety Equipment, KC HiLites, Currie Enterprises and Pro Eagle among many others were stops in a very long line of vehicles awaiting tech inspections.
The race plan was laid out and starting the race as navigator for PJ would be Shon Hepler. With a limited pit crew there were would be just 2 planned stops for the 6124, the first stop would be at Pit 6, roughly 211 miles from the start where Shon would hop out and Joe Herrera would jump in to navigate PJ to the finish. Pit 11 is the second scheduled stop at race mile 398 where at both pits the 6124 is due to re-fuel and get some fresh rubber on the rear.
Shortly after mile 70, PJ and Shon caught up to TT 128 that was holding up traffic and became very difficult to pass. Much slower in the twisty, single track sections PJ was doing everything he could to let the driver know he had someone behind him, but once the course would flatten out, the 128 would speed away. The battle would come to a head when the 128 was unable to navigate a turn at the top of a steep hill in a section of the forest and started to back up and rammed the front of the 6124. What had seemed like minor fiberglass damage to the front of the truck would lead to more issues further down course. PJ would be stuck in the dust of the 128 all of the way to Pit 6 covering over 100 miles and during this time the Children of the Dirt team would fall to 12th position on corrected time.
After a very fast pit stop, now leaving Pit 6 with Joe Herrera in the right seat was to get an ear full from PJ as he had to get some stuff off of his chest about the events that occurred over the last 2 hours. No longer behind the much slower 128 truck PJ was able to make up positions on the rest of the field. With Joe calling out dangers and keeping the 6124 on track it wasn’t long before they had worked their way back toward the front in 3rd position.
PJ and Joe were holding a solid pace all of the way up to Pit 11 which was race mile 398. Here they would take two new rear tires, KC HiLites light bar and top it off with fuel. Another very quick pit stop and the 6124 was on their way to Reno. However, shortly after leaving PJ and Joe noticed the radiator was spraying fluid in through the front window and it wasn’t much longer until the truck began to overheat ending their day at race mile 411. Further review of the cause appeared to stem from the minor collision they had with the 128 earlier on, which had pushed the radiator shroud back causing it to rub a tiny pinhole into the radiator. PJ said “Overall we had a solid run and we were hauling ass, this truck is fast and my crew was on point all day. Getting in and out of the pits quickly was key for us to stay up front.”
Taking a DNF this year at Vegas to Reno is not something PJ and the Children of the Dirt team is accustomed to, however PJ did receive some valuable seat time competing with the top of the class before their race ended early. Moving forward, the truck will receive a couple of modifications and some suspension adjustments PJ continues to dial in the 6124.
PJ and the Children of the Dirt Motorsports team know they wouldn’t be out racing though the desert if it wasn’t for the help of family and sponsors. Special Thanks to my Dad and Southern Cal Seafood! My wife Alicia, daughter Savana, my mom and all of my friends who help make adventures like this possible. A huge thank you to the companies that put together killer products. BFGoodrich Tires, KC HiLites, Currie Enterprises, Armada Engineering, Flippobuilt, KING Shocks, Method Race Wheels, Mob Armor, PCI Race Radios Pro Eagle and Safecraft Safety Equipment.. Please check out these companies, they produce some of the best equipment that keeps the COD team competitive.