Mongo Racing Get's Back on Track
For Mongo Racing October has been a real test for the team from Parker, Arizona. Beginning with the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, CA and ending with a competitive finish at the BITD "Las Vegas 200" in Jean, NV and we cannot forget to mention all the hard work they put in with six weeks of testing following the team's first DNF since 2002.
Soon after the BITD "Vegas to Reno," the crew went to work repairing and conducting maintenance on everything found during the team's post race inspections. Knowing what the next seventeen weeks were about Randy Merritt and the rest of Mongo Racing went to work to make the truck more competitive. "We were close, but I think we could do a little more fine tuning to get there," stated driver Randy Merritt. "And where else better to tune a desert race truck than in Parker, Arizona," stated, Co-Rider and team Senior Master Technician, Chris Golding.
After returning home from the BITD "Las Vegas 200" Pre-Run on September 25, 2004, the team went out for another test session. This session proved to be costly. Driver,
Randy Merritt, felt more comfortable with the truck and finally found a point were machine cannot keep up with the wants of human. The ensuing incident caused the team to replace key suspension components and then get the truck to Bodyline Auto body and Paint for needed repairs. With less than two weeks to the Off-Road Expo, Bodyline Auto Body came through with more than enough time to prep the truck for the now number ten-ranked trade show in the United States.
The Off-Road Expo was a team success, being a featured vehicle for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and alongside the competition, rock crawler of Walker Evans was awesome. To have so many see our truck and to receive such great complements for our hard work was the greatest feeling from the weekend.
After the Off-Road Expo, the team headed back to Parker to prep the truck for racing. That does not sound like much, but the truck had to be re- outfitted for racing in the harsh Nevada desert and only three nights to do it.
Race activities began Friday October 15, 2004 at the Fiesta Hotel & Casino in Henderson, NV. With a field slightly smaller than usual, contingency was also slightly smaller thus the team was able to get through tech inspection quickly and prepare for the race with a team meeting prior to the Driver's meeting.
Saturday October 16, 2004 was race day; the team awoke to clear skies and a chilly morning. The drive to the dry lakebed, where the start and finish was, was expected to be short, that was until the team turned right of the pavement. The sight was remarkable yet unwanted. The dust was hovering over the dry lakebed like dense fog and with no wind or breeze to carry it away. Visibility was very limited. With the start of the race at 7am and the BITD Class 1500 cars first off the line for the first time since the introduction of the Trick Truck. Mongo Racing started 6th in class and had a plan to race a smart race. After the first lap the Mongo Racing black Ford F-150 was in sixth place, though some of the trucks in front changed the team was on there pace keeping the class leader with in 12 minutes. On the second lap, Randy Merritt drove the truck into third place, but just before pit 2, co-rider Chris Golding radioed in that Mark Handley had passed them for third. With a scheduled pit stop on the second lap, the team was on a good pace with class leader only minutes ahead. After Randy and Chris left the pit, Randy was gave the word the truck could be pushed harder if needed. Randy did just that. With the trucks driven by Handley and Henn only five minutes ahead, Randy was on the move.
By the main pit, Randy had picked up a minute on Handley and by pit 1 Randy was within a minute of Handley and Henn. Randy was looking ahead and wanting second place when the truck's computer went to default at full speed. Randy and Chris were in a section of the track where they could not just stop and fix it safely, so they dove it a short ways until they could get off the track, thus losing time. Chris had an idea what the cause was and had the parts to fix it, but first a reset of the ignition and they were back on track. An estimated ten minutes was lost to the Ford truck of Handley and time was of the essence. The Mongo Racing Ford F-150 looked good going through pit 2 on the final lap, but Randy was running out of track. At the finish line, an enthusiastic crew and crowd of spectators met Randy and Chris. The Hummer of Chad Hall, who finished first, was on the podium thanking his supporters. What a great race, first through fourth in class separated by 19 minutes and fifth was only 13 minutes behind Randy. Randy stated after the race, "This race was a great leap forward and improving is the goal for this team. We just ran out of track this day."