Chris Raffo and his California Tomato Powermaster Chevrolet Blazer went to Nevada hoping to challenge the perennial SCORE Class 3 champions. The SCORE Laughlin Challenge is a Short-Course race that's contested in the desert. Chris with his...
Chris Raffo and his California Tomato Powermaster Chevrolet Blazer went to Nevada hoping to challenge the perennial SCORE Class 3 champions. The SCORE Laughlin Challenge is a Short-Course race that's contested in the desert. Chris with his extensive Midwest Short Course racing background, felt confident on his chances for a podium finish.
After a Friday afternoon reconnaissance run on the 8-mile long course, Chris and his team were ready for the typical rough Nevada desert. The Laughlin Challenge is a two-day event, Class 3 competitors racing 4 laps on each day. The race officials also designated the event as a limited access race. Unlike traditional desert races, this meant the teams wouldn't be able to use typical chase teams for support during the race. The designated pit area at the start/finish area was the only section of the race course for teams to repair their vehicle during the event.
Saturday Chris Raffo had Jeff Dolan riding shotgun for the day's sprint. The start went off well; with the #301 BFGoodrich shod California Tomato/Powermaster/Phil's Inc. Chevrolet Blazer catching some of the Class 7 trucks. Then during lap two on the fastest part of the course, the ignition system began to misfire. This hampered the pace of the truck the rest of the day. As the race went on, the dust really became a problem. "More than once we found ourselves slightly off course, having to slow down to get back online," noted Chris Raffo.
At the end of the day the team finished a very respectable second place, three and a half minutes behind the winner.
Sunday After a quick ignition fix, the truck was ready for Sunday. The second race had Jeff Dolan in the driver's seat with longtime team member Charlie Herrera as co-driver/navigator. This was Jeff's first time at the wheel of the red and white Blazer.
The start went well, with Jeff keeping pace through much of the spectator area of the course. During the first lap, Jeff was fighting the limited vision thanks to the dusty conditions as well as the suspension limitations of a Class3 race truck. On lap two, something broke in the front drive stopping the truck dead in its tracks. After several discussions on the radio and a lengthy on-course fix by Jeff and Charlie, the team was up and running again. Unfortunately, the 75-minute time limit expired as the team finished its second lap. In the end the team was only credited with one lap.
For the weekend, the team was credited with a fourth place finish.
"The extremely dry desert combined with a large number of cars on such a short course made this a real challenge just to stay on course. My off course adventures cost us the win on Saturday. These conditions didn't make it any easier for Jeff's first time behind the wheel of the Blazer. A typical desert event has the driver pacing himself as well as the truck to last the 500 miles. This event is an all out sprint-Drive fast. Drive hard and hope you get to the finish before everyone else. This was desert racing?. Crandon style." Chris Raffo.
"Sunday I was really hopeful for a solid finish. The dust really kept visibility at a premium. I was out there to get some seat time to prepare for Mexico. The time spent out on the course was a learning experience for myself and Charlie." Jeff Dolan.
Next race is the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, March 10-12.
Raffo Racing is committed to competing in the entire 2005 SCORE desert series and coming home with 2006 Class 3 championship.