SCOTT DOUGLAS DEBUTES RANCHO / AMSOIL FORD EXPLORER AT PARKER 425 PARKER, AZ-Dust-a fine talc hangs in the air reducing visability to near zero on the race course as Scott Douglas and co-driver Jeremy Runyen inch forward to the starting line of...
SCOTT DOUGLAS DEBUTES RANCHO / AMSOIL FORD EXPLORER AT PARKER 425
PARKER, AZ-Dust-a fine talc hangs in the air reducing visability to near zero on the race course as Scott Douglas and co-driver Jeremy Runyen inch forward to the starting line of the one of the most legendary off-road races in the world. After a 15-second interval, Douglas gets the green light and launches the Class 3100 Explorer down Parker's main street before turning left off the pavement and into the desert. In an instant, the Explorer disappears in the dust, facing three laps of the brutally unforgiving Parker 425 race course.
Framed by a dramatic backdrop of rugged Southwestern desert, mountains, and the Colorado River, Douglas Motorsports debuted a fresh look and new sponsor support for the 2004 Best In The Desert Class 3100 Ford Explorer. In addition to Douglas Motorsports long-standing primary sponsors; Rancho Suspension and Ford Trucks, Douglas' 2006 program now includes major support from Amsoil and Kumho Tires.
2006 brings new competition in BITD's Class 3100 for the DMS Ford Explorer as well. General Motors has entered the BITD 3100 fray with a very serious H3 Hummer fielded by off-road veteran Rod Hall. The factory backed Hummer was expected to be fast and Hall is not one to make too many mistakes.
Douglas started second in the Class 3100 grid behind another Explorer, which he quickly passed in the opening miles. By the time he reached the midway pit 26-miles into the race on lap one, Douglas and Hall were just 15-seconds apart. The pair ran in each others dust for the remainder of the first lap, neither allowing the other to gain a time advantage.
The split at the end of the first 135-mile lap was telling. The pair was running considerably faster than any stock class 3100 had every run at Parker and were still locked together like it was a sprint race. "The pace was incredible, we were hammering the Explorer hard, and the pounding was non-stop for hours on end" commented Douglas after the race. "Don't let anyone tell you the Ford Explorer has gone soft around the edges. Yeah, it's a great family grocery getter, but Ford's tough truck heritage is evident in just how much punishment the Explorer platform can take off- road."
Douglas' Parker entry also marked the first time Kumho Tires raced in the desert. "We were confident the Kumho's would work well out here, but this terrain is really hard on tires. In addition to the soft silty sand, Parker has a lot of hard rocky surface and the race course is literally littered with rocks-all sizes of rocks. At speed, it's sometimes not a matter of avoiding rocks, but deciding which rocks to hit" stated Douglas. "The Kumho tires were flawless, we ran them hard and they took the abuse without complaint. We didn't have one flat and the Kumho's delivered excellent bite when we needed it.
By the second lap, Douglas and Hall took picked up the pace once again and soon had a two hour margin on the third place 3100 entry. Despite the extreme conditions, the mid-day desert heat had little effect on the Explorer's performance thanks to the Amsoil fluids used throughout the truck. "Even the heat of the day, engine temperatures stayed low and allowed me to lean on the powertrain when I needed to" Scott said in a post race interview. Douglas stretched his lead over the H3 to 40-seconds at the aqueduct crossing on the second lap, knowing he had to pit for fuel at the midway pit on the return loop. Douglas left the pit just behind Hall who was fueling at the main pit and didn't stop at midway. When the pair entered the short-course style Parker Python section of the track at the main pit, Douglas was 15-seconds behind Hall. Showing his short-course expertise, Douglas closed to 10-seconds at the exit of the Python and Hall pitted for fuel. A quick fuel stop put Hall out just 75-seconds behind Douglas at the start of the third and final lap.
It looked like Douglas had worn Hall and the Hummer team down as the H3 began having power steering issues. After passing the Graham Wells pit for the final time, at one of the most remote sections of the race course, the Rancho / Amsoil Explorer broke a ball joint. "We're not sure what caused it to break, but it was likely a rock. This is the forth season we've raced the Explorer and we've never broken a ball joint before" said Douglas. Due to the remote location, a replacement part had to be sent to Douglas onboard another race car. Scott and Jeremy were able to replace the ball joint trackside, but by the time the repair was complete the H3 was long gone.
"It's not our style to layback and cruise for second. We run every race to win and we just didn't happen to win this one" stated Douglas after the race. "I'm really looking forward to racing against Rod Hall and the Hummer team this year. They took this one, but we've conquered every other challenge we've faced with the fully-independent suspension Explorer, winning 7 out of our last 10 starts. With the support of Rancho Suspension, Amsoil, Ford Trucks, Kumho Tires, Reider Racing, Precision Gear, MasterCraft Seats, DynoMax, MSD, and Howe Performance Power Steering, we plan to race 'em hard all season. "