Laughlin Desert Classic Day 1 Recap: Write-up

Day one at the Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic brought some great racing action to Laughlin.  Despite impressive performances in the Trick Truck Class by Jason Voss and Shawn Croll and having their own race with no other classes, the Class 1500’s of Harley Letner, Pat Dean and Jeff Quinn lead the race overall with another day of 68 miles.

Day 1 Top 5 Overall:

1. Harley Letner (Class 1500) – 01:01:24.397
2. Pat Dean (Class 1500) – 01:01:46.527
3. Jeff Quinn (Class 1500) – 01:04:25.772
4. Jason Voss (Trick Truck) – 01:04:29.173
5. Shawn Croll (Trick Truck) – 01:04:32.903

Click here for official overall results.

Click here for official results by class.

 

The first race mixed Class 1700, 2700, 3700, 4700, 5000, 7100, 8100 and Vintage classes together.  In Class 8100, #8172 Keith Waibel put a full minute on second place finisher #8108 Rob Mills heading in to day 2.   The two were being chased by down by Sara Price, who debuted her skills in the #8108 RPM Off-Road Trick Truck and finished just four minutes off Waibel’s pace.  Having spent most her life in an off-Road car co-piloting in many different vehicles from desert racing and rally car to grand prix and rock crawling, RPM’s Justin Matney and Clyde Stacy invited price and navigator Erica Sacks out to have their hands on the wheel of a trick truck.

“The first lap we were just kind of seeing things and feeling them out.  Erica and I didn’t have communication with each other,” said Price.  “On the second lap we had a flat, so that was a bummer but we didn’t waste too much time.  Geiser in the pits were on it.”

 

The third lap is where Price says she felt most comfortable, so it will be interesting to see her approach in tomorrow’s race.

#4757 Chris Eisenhouer put the hammer down in Class 4700.  Finishing this race in second position, he put three minutes on second class finisher, #4776 Robert Lant.  The two will battle it out for the class win tomorrow, as third class finisher #4770 Jerry Fisher fell back nearly fourteen minutes from Eisenhouer’s pace.

Twenty seven second separated #5008 Shelby Thompson and #5022 Wade Kelson.  These two are the only Class 5000 racers entered so it’s all up to them in the finale tomorrow.

The Jeepspeed’s were especially awesome to watch through the FOX Proving Grounds.  It’s always fun to watch these guys bounce around through big holes.  #1710 Rick Randall handled the class by just under a minute over second place finisher #1793 Garett Allred.  #1724 Rob Seubert and #1720 Jimmy Perry leaned on the two leaders all day.

Race 2 combined Class 1100, 2000, 2400, 3000, 6000 & 7200.   #7235 Mike Neff led the race for a good amount of time.  Around RM6 on the third lap, we saw Neff pull off in the distance to what looked like check for a non existent flat tire, in doing so gave up precious time to #7281 Randy Merritt through the FOX Proving Grounds.  Neff eventually ran in to issues and did not finish the race, leaving the door open for #7281 Randy Merritt to take the first place class finish.  #7268 Bryce Eisenhouer and #7277 Mike McCarthy finished 2nd and 3rd in the 7200 Class.

However, it was #2446 John Hsu in Class 2400 that holds the lead heading in to tomorrow’s second day of racing in the Class 1700, 2700, 3700, 4700, 5000, 7100, 8100 and Vintage race.  Hsu was in the fourth vehicle on the road through the FOX Proving Grounds on the third lap.  He circled back out front strong nearly 20 minutes later and finished the race with just over a minute lead on Merritt.

Some of the best racing of the day was in the Trophy Lite class. The top 3 position secured by #6001 Todd Jackson, #6068 Ryan Winner and #6021 Craig Spitz finished the day within a minute of each other.  Jackson drew 6th starting position and battled his way to the front to take the class win on day 1.

Class 1000, 1500 & 6200 all battled it out in the third race.  Top qualifier #1575 Pat Dean held the physical lead all day, being rewarded with a lone start off the line for Thursdays accomplishments.  #1570 Harley Letner of Youtheory Racing was cool and calm once he found his comfortable distance behind Dean, where he ended up under the General Tire arch.

At the finish line it was Dean first and Letner second, but Letner took the win on day 1 on corrected time by just over 22 seconds.  #1590 Jeff Quinn finished in 01:04:25.772, solidifying the top three overall positions for Class 1500. Letner’s time of 01:01:24.397 was three minutes faster than first place Trick Truck, Jason Voss.  One can only think what Letner could have accomplished with open air ahead of Pat Dean but that’s where he’ll start tomorrow.

The Class 1000 battle was the closest of the entire day, with only 5 second separating #1068 Blade Hildebrand and #1074 Brock Heger.  Heger is fresh off his win at the 2017 Mint 400 and holds an 11 point lead over T.J. Tuls in the overall points race.  Tuls is not on the entry list, so a win here could extend his lead.

However, the 6100 race was competitively closer throughout the entire class than the Class 1000 race was.  6100 is the second largest class in Laughlin and the top five racers ended the first day within thirty seven seconds of each other.   Twenty two racers came out to compete in battle to grab points in a close overall points race.  #6107 Steve Kovach earned the top spot and a fifteen second lead over second place #6185 Matt Laughlin.  Matt Laughlin, you guessed it, is the hometown hero whose grandfather Don Laughlin was the sponsor of the very first race here in Laughlin in 1975.   #6118 Ryan Hancock trailed Laughlin by six seconds and #6124 PJ Guglielmo sixteen.  Hancock leads the overall points championship by 8 points.

For once, not much can be said about the Trick Truck race other than the fact the leader trails three Class 1500’s for the overall.  Jason Voss is #1 for a reason and he was his typical self today.  It seemed like he had a powerful lead over the field however, a standout performance by #32 Shawn Croll left him just three seconds ahead in the class.  Lalo Laguna is forty five seconds from Croll with an another 68 miles to go!

For more photos visit Race-Desert!