Split Decision for Raffo Racing The 2007 edition of the SCORE Laughlin Challenge saw unseasonable cold weather pass through southern Nevada. This combined with persistent strong winds, kept the six-mile desert course almost dust free the entire...
Split Decision for Raffo Racing
The 2007 edition of the SCORE Laughlin Challenge saw unseasonable cold weather pass through southern Nevada. This combined with persistent strong winds, kept the six-mile desert course almost dust free the entire weekend. To ensure great viewing for the fans, SCORE officials continually watered down the infield portion of the course throughout the week.
The actual race consists of two, sixty minute races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The various divisions of buggies and trucks are divided into six groups with the first group starting at 7 AM. The winner of each class is then determined by combining the finishing positions of both days.
Chris Raffo and his #302 California Tomato, Fig Partners, Hot Creek Capital, D & L Performance, Phil's Inc., Powermaster, BFGoodrich Tires, Chevy K5 Blazer, have high hopes for the 2007 SCORE Class 3 Championship. "The California Tomato Chevy is ready to make a serious challenge for the championship," stated Chris Raffo during his wait in the tech line.
Friday afternoon saw Chris, and his co-driver Dennis Chencherick, made one practice lap, and found the race truck's powerplant running slightly off song. The guys brought the truck into the pit area and the team went to work. The problem was diagnosed back to the newly installed carburetor. Quickly the team went to work, the original carburetor was installed and a new set of sparkplugs were dropped in for good measure. As the sun set behind the mountains, the team was confident that the 'Raffonator' Blazer was ready to race.
Saturday morning, Chris made the decision to lighten up the race truck, by removing all the spare parts, as well as the tools the team carries during a typical desert race. Since this was a short course type of an event, the pit area would never be too far away. This decision would come back to bite the team later in the day.
Saturday, 12 Noon - Race 1 The 'Raffonator' left the start line next to #303 Ken Leavitt. When the green flag flew, Chris stomped on the pedal and the D & L Performance powerplant launched the California Tomato Blazer down the front straightaway. Halfway though the first lap, Chris had pulled away from the #303 and passed two other competitors. Then suddenly, the driveshaft broke and the #302 quickly stopped in its tracks. Since the spare driveshaft and tool bag was removed before the start, the day was over for Chris and Dennis.
"The truck was running strong and the Bilstein shocks really handled this rough track, but removing all the tools and spares from the truck, cost us the race today," commented Chris Raffo. "My guys will have the truck ready before the sun sets, and will get'em tomorrow."
Sunday morning, saw the crew double check the truck, and top off the fuel cell. Of course the tool bags and spare parts were mounted back on the truck, just to be on the side of caution.
Sunday, HIGH NOON - Race 2 Right off the start, Chris and Dennis took the lead in the class by the first mile of the race. This time the four lap race went perfect. Gradually the #302 California Tomato, Fig Partners, Hot Creek Capital, D & L Performance, Phil's Inc., Powermaster, BFGoodrich Tires, Chevy K5 Blazer built up a commanding lead. At the finish line, the 'Raffonator' Blazer won the Class 3 race by over nine minutes.
After conferring with officials, Chris Raffo was awarded with fewer championship points than expected. This was to due the 'Did Not Finish' result on Saturday. Even so, the team was extremely pleased with Sunday's winning performance.
"Once again the truck roared off the starting line. The run went perfect. We were able to pass both of the Hummer H1's that started in front of us. That was just icing on the cake. Even though this is considered a short course race by many, we went into today with a desert racer's mindset. We ran fast were we could, didn't take any chances in the real rough stuff. And this course is really rough. Now it's time to get ready for San Felipe." - comments from Chris Raffo.
"Friday night we were talking about how the WSORR Short Course racers just would fly over that first hill without slowing down, and I just hoped Chris would remember to slow down," commented co-driver Dennis Chencherick. "Well, Saturday we charged it pretty hard, today Chris took it much easier knowing we had to finish. I just went along for the ride, as everything went as planned."