Douglas Dominates at Parker 425
Anyone who thinks the third generation Ford Explorer has gone a little soft around the edges with its fully independent suspension and luxurious interior appointments certainly hasn't talked to veteran off-road racer Scott Douglas. Douglas, driving a production Ford Explorer in the Best In The Desert Pure-Stock Production Mini or Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle class (3100) finished the brutal Parker 425 nearly 50-minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. Perhaps more astounding, the Ford Rancho Suspension Explorer was the 27th vehicle overall to cross the finish line beating many of the more exotic full-race vehicles.
"Parker is notoriously hard on equipment" explained Douglas. "It's a mixture of high-speed graded roads, deep-silty sand washes, and incredibly rough desert terrain that conspires to tear vehicles apart." The Parker 425 had a sizeable attrition rate as the unforgiving desert claimed competitor after competitor. Douglas continued "I pushed the Rancho Explorer hard right from the green flag. There were at least 15-Cherokees entered in the JeepSpeed class starting ahead of us and the plan was to pass the Jeeps early on the high speed sections so we wouldn't be stuck behind them on the more technical parts of the course. I ran right on the ragged edge on the graded road section and was able to pick my way through the field."
Class 3100 Pure-Stock rules dictate that front and rear suspension components must remain stock. "The shocks are the only component we can really work with. Our long-standing relationship with Rancho provides a wealth of knowledge about getting the shocks right." said Douglas. Big- bore 3-inch i.d. DMS Rancho prototype race shocks built by crew chief Ted Kendall, owner of Kendall Engineering in Lakeside, CA, provide the necessary rebound and damping control. "We run huge 35-inch BFGoodrich race TAs on the Rancho Explorer and the additional wheel and tire mass puts loads and stress on the suspension it was never intended to handle. "
Douglas Motorsports provides feedback to the Ford Explorer platform engineering team, testing the limits and ruggedness of the fully- independent suspension. "I must say, the Explorer has surprised everyone involved with just how much abuse it can take. Though there were a few teething problems last year, this truck has finished every mile of every race it was entered in.I guess that's what they mean by Ford Tough" Douglas commented.
Those big BFGoodrich tires also deliver incredible bite that loads the stock drivetrain beyond design limits. "We run all stock Explorer components in the drivetrain and the failure rate is incredibly low. The setup on our stock differentials is handled by the crew at Reider Racing and Precision Gear - their expertise is a huge factor in our success rate with the drivetrain" stated Douglas.
Scott Douglas and co-driver Jeremy Runyen were also thrilled with the performance of the MasterCraft race seats since Class 3100 is a stock production class limited to nine inches of wheel travel. After 11-hours, 31-minutes, and 39-seconds of pounding on the race course the Ford Rancho Explorer team was ready for more.
With a win in the first race of the season under his belt, Scott Douglas now leads the Class 3100 by five points. Parker marked the 52nd career win for off-road champ Douglas. After the race Douglas commented "The Parker 425 win told us that we have the Ford Rancho Explorer well sorted out. Everyone on the Douglas Motorsports team is focused on a Best In The Desert championship in 2004". The next race on the 2004 BITD schedule is the Terrible's Town 250 - The richest off-road race in Nevada - April 23 - 25, 2004. For the latest information on Douglas Motorsports and links to sponsor websites, log on to: www.douglasmotorsports.com.