BITD: Mongo Racing mid-season race report

The 2003 Best In The Desert Racing Association season began with round one, the Blue Water Resort and Casino "Parker 425," in Parker Arizona. On the chilly February morning, the race started on the asphalt in down town Parker and then headed to...

The 2003 Best In The Desert Racing Association season began with round one, the Blue Water Resort and Casino "Parker 425," in Parker Arizona. On the chilly February morning, the race started on the asphalt in down town Parker and then headed to what most commented to be a fast course. Once again, the desert surrounding Parker proved to be the enemy for nearly half the participants. With an only nearly fifty percent of all the starters finishing, completing the course was a feat in it's self. Mongo Racing began the season with high hopes and goals with the first race of the year being held in Parker, where Randy Merritt and Steve Solaiza had won the last five Whiplash Parker races. The Mongo Racing FORD F-150 was looking sharp with the new paint from award winning AUTOCOLOR Paint & Body.

At the starting line, things sounded and felt good, but things suddenly changed shortly after race mile 8 when the rear break line parted. Randy and Steve made necessary repairs to get back into the race, but had to navigate the course with only front brakes for 130 miles back to the pit area in Parker. Randy stated, "things were slow going, but the dirt roads were fun." After repairing the brakes problem the Mongo Racing Ford F-150 when to the finish line without problem, but could not make up the two hour lead of the Ford F-250 of Greg Foutz. Randy Merritt, Steve Solaiza and Mongo Racing finished fourth on the day and this left Randy in an unfavorable position in the season point's standings.

With round two of the Best In The Desert Racing Association series-taking place in Pahrump Nevada, "The Terrible's Town 250," billed as the richest race in Nevada. Randy and Mongo Racing were looking forward to bouncing back from the disappointing finish at Parker and reported to have fixed the truck after their first race in this truck. Randy and Steve were the first to leave the starting line in class and physically lead the race for the first 177 miles, with the battle for the lead constantly being contested for between the factory supported Ford of Greg Foutz and the Factory supported Hummer of Chad Hall. With Chad Hall, following closely and leading on corrected time Randy set the pace and the rest had to follow, until race mile marker 177 where the passenger-side front spindle broke sending the wheel and tire out into the desert.

Randy and Steve lost 45 minutes to an hour changing out the spindle and steering assembly that broke, but had to contend with collateral damage and once again finished approximately two hours behind race winner Greg Foutz. Randy commented after the race, "this is two races with out a flat on these Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires. The Sway-A-Way shocks are performing as expected and are really exceeding our expectations for their longevity." "The spindle breaking where it did was a fluke and good luck all rolled up in one, we had just been at high speed for a long period of time and I can't think of what would have happened if it had broke then. We just got lucky, real lucky" added Steve Solaiza.

Round three of the Best In The Desert Racing Association series took place in the Nevada desert with the prestigious TSCO "Las Vegas to Reno". With the two races down and three to go, Randy Merritt and the Mongo Racing Ford F-150 were third in points and looking for consistency for this race. With Trophy Truck driver Jimmy Beaver agreeing to drive for approximately 250 miles of the 513-mile race, Randy and Jimmy wanted to be there at the end of the race and contend for the win. Randy started the race in Alamo, Nevada and soon called his crew notifying them of their situation. He was 10 miles off the start line with a broken left front spindle, Randy couldn't believe his luck again only seconds before he was at high speeds and in a technical section of the course, and the crew went to work getting Randy and Co-rider Chris Golding the required spindle. Randy and Chris changed out the spindle and were back on course about an hour and half behind the class leaders. Randy continued to the first designated pit area were the Mongo Racing crew changed out the brake pads. Randy and Chris were back on course and running in seventh place.

At mile marker 125, Randy and Chris turned the truck over to Jimmy Beaver and Steve Solaiza and they left the pit in sixth place. Jimmy and Steve drove a smart race, Jimmy was catching up to the slower vehicles and passing them smoothly and smartly. Jimmy had never driven this truck prior the race and did a great job and at mile marker 334 Jimmy and Steve turned the truck back over to Randy and Chris, who got back into the race truck for the last of the race.

With the sun, descending Randy and Chris drove past the disabled Hummer driven by Chad Hall moving them up to fifth place. Driving was slow because of the dark night and at mile marker 510 Randy and Chris passed fourth place to move up one more position. At 12:30 am, Randy and Chris crossed the finish line of the 513-mile TSCO "Vegas to Reno" off-road race in fourth place. Mongo Racing had there first finish of the legendary "Vegas to Reno" race and thanks to Goodyear Tire Company and Sway-A-Way, because Mongo Racing has now raced three races with a flat over what could be described as the worlds toughest terrain.

Randy Merritt and Mongo Racing are now second in the class 8100 season points standings and only one of two trucks in the Best In The Desert Racing Association Class 8100 to finish every mile of every race entered in the 2003 season to date.

Mongo Racing wants to thank and encourage all to check out Goodyear Tires, Sway-A-Way suspension products, Autometer gauges, Signcraft signs and lettering, AUTOCOLOR Paint & Body, Parker Oil, Gibb's A/C, For You Tire and Auto, Race Craft suspension seats, Lickity Stitch embroidery, Parker Roofing, BEKO Radiators and NAPA Auto Parts in Parker. Mongo Racing also wants to thank F & M Farms, RENO Sheet Metal of North Hollywood CA, RLH Communications and everyone else who supports Mongo Racing in our chase for the championship.

You can visit Mongo Racing at www.mongoracing.com, or contact Steve Draper at stevedraper@mongoracing.com.

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Series Offroad
Drivers Greg Foutz