Best in the Desert Las Vegas 200 Dec 2, 3, 4
The outcome of this race was to determine the pro/unlimited class standings for 2000 so we were all pumped up for the event. The BITD staff had, once again, done a superb job with the preparation and the competition was out in force. With over 180 entrants and 10 vehicles in our class, this proved to be the most interesting race of the year. During the technical inspection, Casey Folks, the director of BITD, announced that there was a problem with the permits from the Indian lands and the race would be changed from two 100-mile laps to four 50-mile laps. This meant that the silt would be deeper and that the vehicles would take more of a beating later in the event. Starting times were adjusted and all appeared to be well.
Three trophy trucks started ahead of the pro/unlimited class and Sam had drawn third starting position in class. By the end of the first lap, Sam was second in class but the engine was failing fast. Limping into the pits, the cylinder head had melted and the engine failed. Of concern was Damien Jefferies who was first overall in class points for the year and was running strong. If both Sam and Damien finished the race, we would be second in class for the year. Team Margarita set about a 53-minute engine change and got Sam back onto the course without loosing a complete lap. In the mean time Jefferies car had an engine failure at mile 26. All we had to do was finish the race to be first in class for the year.
In VORRA, engine changes are allowed in the unlimited classes however in BITD they are not. By the end of lap 3, Sam was running in second place in class and third place overall. Two flat tires slowed him considerably but he managed to finish the fourth lap in a respectable third place in class. What the crew was unaware of was that Sam had already been told by one of the BITD officials that he had been disqualified for the engine change. The crew was waiting at the finish line as darkness approached and Sam completed his last lap to hear Casey tell him that he had officially been disqualified and that he would receive no points for the day. Sam acknowledged that he already knew and that we were wrong to have changed the engine. It was a very quiet ride back to town as we all pondered what we could have done different.
Since Jefferies did not finish, we got disqualified, and the third place vehicle in the running for the overall did not show up for the event, we completed the year with second in the pro/unlimited class. Casey and the crew of Best in the Desert had finished the year with a bang even with the complications and course changes. We look forward to next year's events with Best in the Desert and wish all of the staff and competitors a safe and happy holiday season.