When Herman Motorsports announced its new Ford Trophy Truck program at the start of 2001, the news made everyone in the racing community pause to take notice. While a majority of observers knew that the combination of team owner Rob Herman, driver Damen Jefferies and their silver Ford F-150 had serious potential, nearly everyone agreed that it would take the better part of a year to crystallize the combination into a race winner. Taking any new Trophy-Truck into the winner's circle just takes that much time.
With the dust of a season's racing now settled, the final results of their rookie Trophy-Truck campaign surprised nearly everyone - with the possible exception of Herman and Jefferies. The beautifully engineered Herman Motorsports Ford F-150 came out of the box as a potent contender, and finished the year with a hat-trick of three consecutive Best In The Desert (BITD) class victories. A year that should, in reality, have been a development program became a dream season for Herman and another romp to a Driver's Championship for Jefferies - his fifth off-road desert title in the span of just six short years. This year's championship backs up a 2000 BITD crown in the unlimited Class 1 open-wheel ranks.
Their 2001 efforts were culminated last weekend in the rough and dusty desert just outside of Las Vegas at the BITD "Las Vegas 200." With team owner Rob Herman riding shotgun for the very first time since the new Ford/BFGoodrich/Kar-Tek Herman Motorsports truck was built, Jefferies motored past the competition to earn a first place victory in the "Trick-Truck" division and a fine second place in the final overall race standings. Another race weekend, another race victory and another championship for the boys at Herman Motorsports.
The win at the Las Vegas 300 matched earlier season triumphs at the Tonopah 300 in June and a prestigious victory at September's "Las Vegas to Reno" - the longest point-to-point race in North America. The potential of the team's 2002 run to the championship was demonstrated at the BITD "Terrible Town 250" season opener in April, where the brand new truck rolled off the trailer with very little test time and still claimed a third place finish.
"In truth, we felt we had a very good package even when we were finishing up this truck at the shop," said a joyous Jefferies after collecting his 2001 championship title. "Right after that first race, we knew we could make some improvements all year to the truck and our team that would make things really come together. To win in this class of desert racing takes so much more in terms of effort and complexity, but we took a very step-by-step approach to making it better every time. Still, to win a championship the first year out is just an awesome accomplishment."
Despite the winning efforts of the team - which includes Damen's younger brother Casey and veteran mechanic Lee Perfect - the Herman Motorsports effort is even more motivated to reach the coming 2002 season. Current plans call for an aggressive schedule of testing in the coming months, followed by an appearance at the SCORE International season opener in January, The Laughlin Desert Challenge in Laughlin, Nev. The crew will then defend their BITD title throughout the year, finishing up their campaign with the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 in November.
For team owner Rob Herman, the championship trophy that now resides next to the others at the Herman Motorsports shop represents the next step toward the overall vision for his operation he now holds so close to his heart. "This championship is very rewarding, especially considering all of the obstacles we overcame to get here so quickly," he concluded. "Our clearly stated objectives when we started Herman Motorsports were to be one of the most professional and best presented teams in the sport. The 2001 season proves that we are well on the way to making that happen in a big way."
Herman Motorsports enjoys corporate support from Ford, BFGoodrich, Kar-Tek, MSD Ignition and Edgewater Hotel and Casino - Laughlin. For additional team information, please visit their new website at www.hermanmotorsports.com.