ACE Motorsports takes double season Championship; wins two awards for 2001 racing season -- The undisputed ACES of Off-Road racing just won a coveted double victory on Dec 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This makes 5 straight years of championships for this awesome team, a track record that may be unbeatable for years to come.
Both the mighty Expedition, driven by Marc Stein and Mike McComas, and the formidable Explorer, driven by Marc Winocur and Dave Turner showed up in the cold December dawn to finish the punishment they had inflicted all year long on the competition. Staging for the start of the popular BITD Las Vegas 200, both FORD Trucks sat impatiently idling at the start line, waiting for their turns to churn up the desert, and cross the finish line first to claim their checkered flags, and the season championship.
The Expedition was leading in the points again this year, and had to finish 5th or better to be the 2001 season champs. The Explorer, having gone undefeated all year long, had already clinched the title of champion before ever starting, and was running this race hoping for another first, and an undefeated year.
The format of this race was 3 laps around a 72 mile loop that turned out to be a mix of high-speed sections over dry lake beds and graded roads, along with punishing silt beds, massive car-high rollers, and edge of your seat cliff driving along mountain rises.
Explorer Report #3102: Through the eyes of the participants: Marc Winocur/Dave Turner
Busy pit crews, smoke rising from the cold chill on their breaths, prepped the Explorer to take its final run this year. A final quick blast of nitrogen into the Bilstein shocks assured the team that they were indeed ready to turn the Ford truck over to the capable hands of Marc Winocur to drive the Explorer to victory. Having dominated all races this year, the pressure was off for the season championship, but adrenaline flowed as always, as the infallible Goodyear tires rolled to the green light. The green light flashed, and Marc was off to capture the competition. [Photo courtesy of ACE Motorsports]
Starting off very easily to allow the shocks to warm in the bitter cold, Marc set a casual pace, yet still came up to the first target, the Air Force entry Escape. Realizing how quickly the ACE Explorer came up; they allowed Marc to pass without incident. But as in all racing, the luck of the Explorer would begin to slip away this day. At race mile 6, the Explorer took on a vicious vibration, and to worsen the situation, began to lose power dramatically. Deciding that both problems were too big to continue onto the first pit to evaluate, he pulled the truck over, and made two completely unrelated findings. A front-drive half shaft inner boot had disintegrated and was taking on the entire desert worth of sand, but more devastating was that a coil wire had somehow melted, and the truck was running on 5 cylinders only. Disengaging 4-wheel drive solved the half-shaft issue for the time being and some resourceful "zip-tie" and taping stuck the wire back onto the coilpak, and away they went. The repair cost the truck 14 minutes, and was now in last place, clawing its way to Pit A to assess the situation further. The repair slid off a couple more time before arriving to the pits, costing the truck valuable minutes. Upon arrival to the pit, the awesome ACE Motorsports crew worked quickly to repair the wiring problem, but being down near 16 minutes in a short race, the decision was to leave the vehicle as a 2-wheel drive, to minimize further lost time. Marc bolted out of Pit A, with a mission, and tried to reel in the competition by the start of lap two. Marc brought the Explorer into the main pit with the truck now down just 10 minutes. It was a quick stop for fuel, a thorough check of the truck, and a driver change to allow veteran driver Dave Turner to take over as planned for the rest of the race.
Dave knew he had little time to move up on the leaders and immediately began his push to the front, closing to within three minutes of the class leader. Nearing Pit B Dave was in the dust of another truck and hit a "digger" that was big enough to break the inner tie rod right off at the steering rack. Unfortunately the spare parts kit in the Explorer only had outer tie rod ends and Pit B was TWO miles away. Best in the Desert rules require that pit crews remain stationary at their assigned location and parts can only be "delivered" by another race vehicle if practical or the driver must go to the pit and pick up parts. This rule required Dave to run two miles to Pit B to pick up the parts while co-driver Roy Bradley removed the broken pieces. Upon Dave's return with the parts, the Explorer was repaired in record time. They were now almost an hour down in third place, but back in the race. The goal now was to finish the race since the Championship was already won and the Ford Explorer, on the original set of Goodyear tires, finished the race without a problem. Dave said after the race "it would have been great to win all four, but winning three and being the only entry in our class to finish every mile of every race this year was quite an accomplishment for the Ford Explorer and Ace Motorsports team." Ace Motorsports rocks and we proved it again.