Damen Jefferies takes the Trophy Truck and Overall Win at the Nevada 1000. Oak Hills, CA - This past weekend, Damen Jefferies drove the Herman Motorsports Ford F-150 Trophy Truck to his 5th straight win in the Best in the Desert Series. To add...
Damen Jefferies takes the Trophy Truck and Overall Win at the Nevada 1000.
Oak Hills, CA - This past weekend, Damen Jefferies drove the Herman Motorsports Ford F-150 Trophy Truck to his 5th straight win in the Best in the Desert Series. To add to the excitement of this impressive victory, Jefferies also captured the OVERALL win, beating the elapsed times of more than 80 other four-wheel teams.
For many years a 1000-mile race through the beautiful landscape of Nevada had been a dream of Casey Folks, Director of the Best in the Desert Silver State Series. Folks, who has dedicated his life to promoting spectacular off-road events did it again, he proved his critics wrong and undoubtedly left 154 race teams and thousands of race fans eager for next years return of this epic event.
The event, which started on Wednesday, June 19 at the Suncoast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, spanned five days with three stages of racing. On day one, teams arrived from around the country for tech inspection and contingency in a relaxed but exciting atmosphere. It seemed everyone was awaiting their fate of the days to come.
Stage One / Alamo, NV to Ely, NV / 322-race miles: After an early wake up call it was time to transfer the Herman Motorsports Ford F-150 Trophy Truck and team to the start line some 80-miles away in the town of Alamo, NV. When the team arrived, orders were dispersed to the more than 20 crewmembers in six support vehicles to take their spots on the 322-mile racecourse.
In a random drawing for start positions, Jefferies had drawn second off the line in the prestigious Trophy Truck class. However, starting behind the Trophy Trucks were 22 of the worlds fastest Class 1 Unlimited driver's, all of whom were competing for not only their class win but also the overall win against the Trophy Trucks. "In this first stage our goal is to get to clean air and put as much time on the Class 1 guys as possible. A majority of the first stage has a lot of real technical sections were the light and agile buggies thrive," said Jefferies, the 2000 Class 1 Champion. "If we can get to clean air, I will be able to out accelerate most of these drivers and hopefully end the day in the top five."
Clean air was not to be. The green flag waved for Jefferies exactly one minute after rival Dave Westhem in his Chevrolet Trophy Truck. Jefferies was gaining valuable ground when a rock, hidden in the Chevy's cloud of dust punctured a tire at race mile 65. Having just cleared HMS pit one and 20 miles to pit two, the onboard crew of Damen and Casey Jefferies pulled off the desolate dirt road to change the flat and immediately experienced a failure in the automatic jack system. The team that frequently practices "in field" tire changes, were left to the back up manual system.
While only out of the race for 5 minutes, Trophy Truck competitors Kyle Taylor (Chevrolet), Ed Herbst (Ford) and Jason Baldwin (Ford) were able to get by. Back on the road with three times more dust to contend with, Jefferies settled into a pace with the lead pack. "This is a three day race, and to win, you can't tear up the equipment on day one. Driving hard in the dust and the pressure of catching up can easily lead to disaster. If this was a one day race we would have had no choice but to lay it on the line, it's not," commented co-driver Casey Jefferies.
Two thirds of the stage through, the Herman Motorsports Ford was able to climb its way up to fourth on the road after the Chevy driven by Kyle Taylor was sidelined in the pits for transmission failure. Continuing on in the lead pack, the team suffered yet another set back at mile 245 with another flat.
Having repaired the automatic jack system during an earlier scheduled pit stop, the Jefferies brothers where able to change the 125lb tire in just two minutes. However, during this down time, the Class 1 Unlimited buggy of Doug Fortin was able to get by. Once back on the road and at the tail end of the lead pack, Jefferies drove conservatively to the finish line just 20 miles further.
For stage one, the Herman Motorsports Ford finished the day 3rd in class and 7th overall with an elapsed time of 7:10.45. The overall winner of the day was the Class 1 Car of Doug Fortin with a time of 6:52.37.
Upon finishing stage one in the town of Ely NV, teams where given 70 minutes to prepare (or repair) their race vehicles for the following day of competition. With the entire Herman Motorsports crew on hand the truck was thoroughly inspected and pre scheduled tasks where performed in less than 45 minutes. The only damage to the vehicle was the hood portion of the carbon fiber body, which had been pushed though a narrow tree section earlier in the day.
Stage Two / Ely, NV to Tonopah, NV / 296-race miles: The start order for the days racing was based on the physical finishing order of the previous day. This put Jefferies in the 7th starting position, almost 18 minutes out of the overall. "This truck was built for today's style of racing. We expect the course to be extremely fast," explained a focused Jefferies. "Were ready!"
Ready indeed. The duo of Damen and Casey Jefferies put everything on the table and at mile marker 45 had already passed the Class 1 car of Gary Weyhrich and the Trophy Truck of Ed Herbst. It was at mile 90 when they where able to overcome the Class 1 car of Dale Ebberts. "That was a real nail biter," said Casey Jefferies, "We where closing in on Dale when he started to brake for a ditch, Damen drove along side him and powered us through first. We hit the other side of the ditch pretty hard with the rear of the truck but no damage was done. It was time to find the others," continued Jefferies. Ten miles after passing Ebberts, Jefferies passed the Class 1 car of Bob Lofton and a few miles later lost that position while performing a scheduled pit stop only to pass Lofton again while he was in the next pit down the road.
Before the halfway mark, the team only had to pass two other vehicles. "We where flying," said Damen Jefferies, "We could see the dust trails of both Baldwin and Fortin and were closing in fast. We caught Baldwin at mile marker 200 and followed closely for a few miles until we could get by him safely." Only one person was ahead of them now and that was the Class 1 car of Doug Fortin. Jefferies was able to get as close as eight feet behind Fortin but that was in the closing mile of the stage and chose to stay back. Doug Fortin was the first four-wheel vehicle across the line for the second stage followed by Jefferies, fifteen seconds back.
On corrected time, Jefferies and the Herman Motorsports crew were the four wheel overall winners of stage two with a time 5:07.17 and 4th on cumulative time. Doug Fortin was able to retain his lead on the field, however, his motor was not sounding well at the end of the stage. It was later learned that damage to his vehicle would put him out of contention for the overall.
Stage Three / Tonopah, NV to Alamo, NV / 287-race miles: Once again, the start order for the stage was based on the previous days finishing order. This put the Herman Motorsports Ford first off the line in "clean air". "Today's stage is very similar to yesterdays," explained Jefferies "The only difference is that we get to start up front which is a huge advantage."
With the Class 1 car of Doug Fortin apparently out of contention with a sick motor, the team was now focused on the second place Class 1 car of Bob Lofton and the first place Trophy Truck of Jason Baldwin. Lofton was not only second in the Class 1 field he was second overall on cumulative time for the event.
With Jefferies starting first off the line, Lofton second and Baldwin third, it was clear this was not going to be a joyride to the finish. Before the green flag waved, the team knew they needed to keep a 2 minute 2 second lead on Lofton and 5 minutes 40 second on Baldwin.
Setting the race pace, Jefferies had a 3-minute lead on Lofton at pit 4, mile 147. It was here that the crew got to shine changing the two rear tires and filling 50 gallons of fuel in a blistering 35 seconds. While a majority of the crew headed south to the next pit, a few stayed back to get time splits on the trailing vehicles in contention.
The Trophy Truck of Jason Baldwin was not to be seen and was later reported to be out of the race. While this news put Jefferies in the Trophy Truck lead at the half waypoint, the team was focused on capturing the overall win. To accomplish this feat, the team would have to keep Lofton better than two minutes behind them for the remaining 142 miles of the stage.
At the two hundred mile marker, Jefferies had put an additional minute on Lofton only to get a flat at mile 206. Working on pure adrenaline, Damen and Casey were able to get the flat changed sacrificing only two minutes to Lofton. Now they where even on time. "That was a little too close for me," said Jefferies, "After that, I was driving harder than I had all weekend trying to make up the distance lost."
As the truck passed through Pit 7 heading to the finish line, the crew radioed the truck to inform them their lead was again 4 minutes on Lofton. Jefferies replied, "We have a left rear going down, we have to stop and change it." The radio went silent for exactly 1 minute 35 second when co-driver Casey Jefferies came on over the intercom to say they were back on the road. Pit calculators on fire, it was clear the team was leading the overall by a mere 1 minute with only 36 miles remaining in the 1000 mile race.
In typical fashion, Jefferies stepped it up even more and took the checkered flag as the first four-wheel vehicle across the line. Although excited, the team stayed huddled around a stopwatch until it hit 2 minutes and 2 seconds. Then the wild cheers came from the crowd as the announcer declared Damen Jefferies and Herman Motorsports the OVERALL WINNER of the inaugural Nevada 1000.
Team owner, Rob Herman was unable to make the journey from Pennsylvania due to a family emergency. However, through the use of modern technology, he barely missed a thing. "It was exciting, I was glued to Off-Road.com the entire weekend following their real time results and commentary," explained Herman. "When I was not online I was in contact with the team via satellite phone. I was at every pit stop and even the finish line to hear the boy's come across and the crowd going wild. It was cool. I couldn't be more proud of this team; this makes five straight wins with Best in the Desert in only seven races with this truck! And what can you say about Damen, what an incredible talent! concluded Herman.
Herman Motorsports would like to thank the many sponsors who make winning possible; Ford Motor Company, BFGoodrich Tires, KarTek Off-Road, Mastercraft Race Products, MSD Ignition, TCS Performance, Wally World Designs, Competitive Door and Finish, Rancho Transmission, VP Fuels, King Shocks, CNC Inc., Porter Race Cars, K&N Engineering, Rancho Performance, Hella USA and Howe Performance. Photographs are courtesy of Off-Road.com.
For more information on Herman Motorsports, visit us on the web at www.hermanmotorsports.com.
The top five overall where as follows: Car # Time Driver Resides Vehicle
1st 1401 16:56:17 Damen Jefferies Oak Hills, CA Ford
2nd 1517 16:59:22 Bob Lofton Westmorland, CA Jimco
3rd 1501 17:17:30 Gary Weyhrich Troutdale, OR Jimco
4th 1545 17:20:20 Dale Ebberts Canyon Lake, CA Jimco
5th 1545 17:20:20 Corky McMillin Bonita, CA Chenowth