Johnny Angal TT63 – Polaris RZR – Vegas to Reno 2017
We will call this report ‘Mind Games’
So… after the Method Race Wheels Laughlin Classic, a race we finished in 6th place, in the new to us Trophy Truck we would start getting the truck ready for Vegas to Reno. Since my truck prep guy moved on to bigger and better things it was up to Vance, Boner, a new guy in my shop Ben, and myself to get the truck ready for 550 miles of crazy Nevada terrain. I must mention Vance went above and beyond working his ass off getting us ready for this race. I never dreamed Vance and I would be pulling and replacing transmissions, rear ends and everything else that had to be done on the truck to get it ready for the race but we got it done. LOL! We did a pretty good fucking job too!
So, during all that prep work I was thinking “550 miles… in the trophy truck… can I do it?” Now some of you guys are thinking ‘Wow, Trophy Trucks are like riding on a magic carpet, so fast and so smooth, 11 hours is no big deal!’ as you sit in front of the computer… right? Well you can all eat shit! It is so, so, so, physically demanding its’ just mind blowing. Yes it is faster and better riding then my Polaris RZR, but I am now hitting holes in the desert at 100-110 MPH vs 30-40 MPH. It is brutal. You can’t take your mind off what you’re doing for 1 second. It is 100% concentration the whole time or you’re going to be making new roads through the desert.
So anyhow I figured I’d ask the man I bought my truck from if he wanted to race with me. I figured he had a lot of seat time in the truck and he is one of the World’s top off road racers. I said to myself ‘The hell with it!’ and called him up. The call went great and he said he would let me know on Monday. Well Monday came and went… but I understood 100%. I figured if I was one of the best off-road racers in the world why would I team up with somebody who has only been racing for 3 years and has only raced a Trophy Truck 3 times in his life? Yep, I agree. It all went through my head and I had no problem with it. I had a backup plan. Remember how I told you it is so punishing on the mind and body? Well I started meditating to cleanse my mind and body. Yup, that’s right. LOL. Not really! I can’t believe you fell for that! LOL!! But I did start going to the gym and working out 5-6 days a week, hard for about 2 ½ months with Vance. We’ve had a blast I started seeing muscles that I had not seen for years come back to life. I was feeling good and ready to take on V2R!
Any way a week goes by and Jesse Jones whom I consider to be one of the ‘Original Bad Ass Trophy Truck Racers’ texts me back and says “Sorry, I’ve been so busy but yes, I’d love to race with you.”
My mind is blown! Jesse Jones is going to race with me! Woot! Woot! You would not believe my excitement! I tell him my plan and he’s like “Yep sounds great lets go race and have fun.” He asks “How well do you qualify?” Um, I say “Not great.” followed up with, “Well at qualifying for the Laughlin race I took the barbed wire fence out while on two wheels!” … So … yah … “Not bad” he says, “well as long as you qualify top 20 we’ll be fine.” Sounds easy enough to me, top 20, we got that.
Anyway, we finish prepping the truck and Boner gets to haul it up to Vegas so our motor builder, Kevin Kroyer, can get it on the dyno to make sure everything is good. They end up fixing some other issues on the truck and find a little more horsepower for me in some adjustments and a bad throttle body position sensor. To me it’s like a new truck and it’s pulling harder than ever before. Boy, I wish I had that extra power at the last three races! LOL!
Now that everything is a go and we head up to Vegas the day before qualifying. I am going to do it because I want to start the race and Jesse is very busy at work and he won’t be able to make it. As I am getting ready to get in the truck Jesse walks up with a big smile and says he just flew in last minute to check things out and he had to fly out in a couple of hours to take care of unfinished business back in Phoenix. I was very excited to see his passion for racing. Boner and I jump in the truck and sit in line sweating our asses off as we wait our turn to go. Its freaking hot out and our 468-cubic inch Kroyer motor is building heat like an old wood stove in the cab of the truck. It’s gotta be 130 degrees sitting in the truck waiting. We do our practice lap and Jesse comes over and gives me a few pointers and teaches me tricks and tips that he has learned in his years of racing. It is awesome! So now we have to sit and wait for our turn to qualify. Racing has a lot of sitting around, LOL! It is really freaking hot and, yes, I’m really freaking nervous, but it’s our turn and I have a plan for each section. Each bump. Each straightaway… Boom! Before you know it and, after a nose wheelie or two we are done! I feel good about it, I was nice and smooth. It seemed fast, I am sure I got that top 20 starting position we were shooting for, without a doubt in my mind! The results are posted and I qualified in 38th.
WWWWWHHHAAATTTTT?! 38th?!?!?!? NO WAY!!!
I had a smooth, clean, fast run, no way! Fucking 38th?! I sit there thinking to myself:
‘Well 38TH, no, no, no…’
‘I guess I will race the last two races of the year, then put the truck up for sale.’
‘Man, I suck!’
‘There is no reason for me to keep racing. I just don’t have what it takes to line up with these bad ass mother fuckers.’
‘Yup, it’s over, I’m not spending this kind of money to be the 38th fastest guy in the desert.’
‘I need a new hobby, I suck. 38th? LOL What am I doing here?’
‘Man, the timers must be wrong.’
‘38th THIRTY, EIGTH.’
That number is burning into my brain, that’s all that runs through my head for the next two days! Well that and boy do I suck! 38th?! Really?! I just let the whole team down and I just made Jesse think ‘What the hell was I thinking? This guy sucks! 38th place really?’
So I am guessing you guys now understand how I felt? Yah, fucking 38th place. So what that means is 37 guys that are faster than me, making dust, hitting huge rocks and throwing them out in the course in front of me. 37 trucks loosening and grinding the roads to a fine silt with no traction, oh well to much effort went into this to stop now, but I suck!!!
Contingency sucks, so we will just forget that even happened and get right to racing! I asked one of the best racers in the world to race with me and yup, I suck, I shouldn’t be here, I’m burning $100 bills like they grow on trees and for what I ask?
We are 38th off the line might I remind you? Oh well, here we go!
Our motor roars to life! Tires are spinning and we are off racing the 2017 Vegas To Reno in a Trophy / Trick Truck! I feel fine now. It feels like we are hauling ass. I catch the truck in front of me in the first 15 miles but when I go in for the kill I get dusted out. This happens for the first 100 or so miles. We are flying thru the air! I am feeling great! I am going fast, right? Oh shit, maybe I am just going 38th place fast…? We charge as hard as we can at times doing 117 miles per hour in dust so thick I can’t see Boner in the passenger seat. I am even thinking about God at times. Man, I am feeling good, I am pumped up! Right about then sweat starts rolling from my forehead. I am hot. I am nauseous. Oh fuck, I think I am going to throw up.
We are right around race mile 100 and I am thinking ‘I wonder if Jesse will mind getting in the truck at race mile 150? I suck anyway and should not be here.’ A few minutes pass and I am feeling better. I’m sliding the truck around corners and it’s feeling great over a few small jumps. Around race mile 150 I’m laughing and screaming in my helmet as we fly thru the air! Boner is thinking I’ve lost it! LOL! At race mile 200 we get a flat tire and get passed by 4 trucks in the blink of an eye. Now I’m in the dust again. Yep, you guessed it, I start feeling queasy again. At the next pit stop they tell us we are doing great and making up all kinds of spots. They think we have moved up to 16th truck on course. Now everyone is getting excited and saying we are doing great! I get out of the truck at race mile 300, and Jesse gets in with Boner. Kind of a slow driver change but all is good.
The truck is running strong and besides the one flat we are killing it! I start chasing from pit to pit and I am in Jesses Raptor. I have a hand-held radio and I think I hear Boner say “We need two tires on the rack.” I radio back with no response but Boner keeps calling with the same request. He just can’t hear me. So, I yank the spares out of the raptor and ask the Graf Racing guys if they will help me rack them and they kindly oblige. A huge thank you to those guys! I was feeling much betting knowing I started in the back and moved up 24 spots physically and on corrected time was close to the top ten. I was just smiling, happy, and my world was once again at peace. I was even thinking about ordering up that new 4 wheel drive trophy truck… fuck me, right? That is the ups and downs of racing. I can’t say much about Jesse’s 250 miles in the truck but Boner said we have a lot of the same driving style. However, Jesse isn’t afraid to hammer down in the rough stuff and Boner said as they were flying through the air at 108 mph Jesse said “This aint nothing! She hasn’t even started to stretch her legs!” So they ended up getting a couple of flats, and breaking the floor jack, then our air jack got stuck in the mount and wouldn’t come out which set us way back. All in we ended up with a 14th place finish and we had a ton of fun doing what we love!
I came home and learned I had taken the truck from 38th to 9th place on corrected time and my mind was blown. I was so excited, pumped, stoked, yah it aint first but I am learning! Sunday I loaded up my Polaris RZR and went for a 6 hour ride to relax, chill and reflect on one of the most bad ass Fridays of my life. Not to mention it was an awesome Sunday!!!
Shout out to Polaris RZR, Jesse Jones, The Geiser’s, Method Race Wheels, Baja Designs Lights, Fox Racing Shocks, Kroyer Racing Engines, Gear Works, Boner, Joe, Nickers, Nate, Vance, Chris, Tyler, Al, Conwon3, BITD, KN Filters, Howe Power Steering, my bad ass team at UTVINC
Team Work Makes The Dream Work!!!!!