BITD: Mongo Racing Parker 425 summary

MONGO Racing wins with a third place finish at the BITD Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425. Mongo Racing went to work on the all-new 2004 Ford F-150 shortly after it arrived in Parker November 3, 2003. Randy Merritt, Chris Golding, Steve ...

MONGO Racing wins with a third place finish at the BITD Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425.

Mongo Racing went to work on the all-new 2004 Ford F-150 shortly after it arrived in Parker November 3, 2003. Randy Merritt, Chris Golding, Steve Solaiza, Steve Draper and Manny Esquerra spent two evenings dismantling the stock truck to begin its transformation into a race truck. November 5, 2003 Mongo Racing delivered the truck to TNC Machine and Metal Fab in Kingman AZ with the goal to debut the race truck at the Parker 425. This left ninety days until qualifying. Tracy Rubio and crew went to work that day. Many, including Representatives from the FORD Truck Motorsports division, did not believe that a race truck could be built in ninety days especially one that did not have many after market parts for the all new truck in production. TNC and Mongo Racing met many challenges in the ninety days of building the new truck including finishing the 2003 BITD season in December, in Las Vegas NV.

Mongo Racing capped the end of the 2003 BITD season with, not only second place at the Las Vegas 200, a second place in the 2003 season points and only one of two FORD Class 8100 teams to complete all five BITD races. This gave Randy Merritt the 8102 number for the 2004 season and expected to put it on the new truck.

Randy stated, "many said we couldn't do it, including Casey Folks when he visited Monday night before the 2004 Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425. Tracy, RD and the rest at TNC put allot of hours into this truck and on February 1, we brought the truck back to Parker to finish. That Saturday night Chris worked until 1:30am to get the truck started. This truck was a challenge from the beginning we spent weekends in Kingman and returned home to prep the old truck as a back-up if something were to happen to the new one."

Monday began with several people stopping by the shop through out the day to get a glimpse of the new truck, but several local racers saw the goal, hard work and vision of those working in the shop and jumped in. Tuesday night Randy climbed behind the wheel of the new 2004 FORD F-150 race truck for the first time and took it for a test drive. Mongo Racing and all those involved were excited to see it in the desert. Chris stated, "It took a few people here in Parker and several engineers in Dearborn, Michigan working together to get this truck running." A couple of changes to the Sway-A-Way shocks were completed Thursday and additional lights were wired in that night for the first race of the season. Qualifying was out of the question this year.

The first goal was now accomplished; the new Ford F-150 was completed in ninety days and race ready in ninety-one days.

Friday brought vendors and crowds of onlookers to the Blue Water Resort & Casino parking lots for the Best In The Desert Racing Association's "Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425" Contingency and Vehicle safety and technical inspection. The crowds were moving with the race vehicles, both young and old were amazed at this great spectacle of cars and trucks. The all-new black 2004 FORD F-150 truck driven by Randy Merritt was one of the crowd favorites this day. Mongo Racing as a team was excited to have the newest truck in the desert and to debut the new truck in their hometown was great.

After getting through the crowds the truck was loaded onto a trailer headed back to Randy Merritt's race shop for the night, yet there was so much more to do for race day. The crew went to work getting pit supplies in order and assignments agreed upon. Steve Solaiza said, "usually we have two weeks to get everything in order, but this year the challenge was to get the truck race ready and we did, now we have to prepare for the race in one night." Mongo Racing did.

Saturday, February 7, was a chilly, but clear morning in Parker; Arizona with the golden sun was rising from the desert. As tradition started several years ago, the race vehicles started in downtown Parker at the streetlight and raced out of town reaching high speeds then turning left at the edge of town for the desert. The crowds lined the streets and the racecourse for miles. With Randy Merritt behind the wheel and Chris Golding in the co-rider seat, the Mongo Racing FORD F-150, left downtown Parker approximately 8:15 am, thus starting a new chapter in Randy Merritt and Mongo Racing's career. The first lap was a test for the new truck and the crew was elated to hear Chris radio in they only needed a gas and go pit stop after the first lap. Randy and Chris left the main pit in Parker 27 minutes behind leader and fellow Ford driver Greg Foutz in third place following the Chevrolet of Larry Tunnel.

The second lap was a little more troublesome. The plan was to finish, but also see what the truck was capable of doing. The shocks were still a little soft, but Randy said he could adjust and continued until the truck just shut down. An electrical short caused the new Ford F-150 to be side lined for approx. twenty minutes while Chris located and fixed a shorted wire caused by tool bag rubbing through it then grounding it to the cab. Chris relocated the tool bag and secured it and they were back on the track. After leaving midway pit 4 the truck was running smooth and Randy was comfortable driving the truck. Then nine miles from the main pit Randy and Chris had flat caused by a rock puncturing the rim. This was Randy's first flat in six races on the Goodyear Tires, but it was not the tires fault. Randy and Chris got back on coarse then Chris radioed in they needed gas, a clean air filter and a new spare tire. Once in the pits, they got their gas, the air filter cleaned and reinstalled and a new spare tire. Randy and Chris left the pit still in third place, but the Fords of Mark Handley and Gary Sunderland were with in a minute and half of them physically.

The third lap was another flawless lap for the new FORD F-150. Chris radioed in to confirm, "They did not need to stop for gas to get to the finish line." Steve Draper informed them, "they had enough gas to do another lap," but Randy and Chris were happy they only had to do another seven miles after completing all new Parker Python. When Randy and Chris drove by the main pits in third place in class, the crew and families that sacrificed so much for this day cheered. Chris radioed in, "do not start celebrating yet we still have not finished."

The crew and families headed to the Blue Water Resort & Casino beach to watch Randy drive the newest truck in the desert this day to its first race finish. Randy said after climbing out of the truck, "This truck was built tough and today we put it over some of the worst terrain possible and it handled it. I bet we could go another 400 miles with this truck right now, but we need a break right now."

Some drivers were overheard comparing the "Blue Water Resort & Casino Parker 425" to a race in Mexico where so many spectators lined the course to watch cars and trucks go by. With having Shea road open for spectating people even camped out for the weekend to watch the race.

-mr-

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Series Offroad
Drivers Greg Foutz