Best in the Desert Parker 425
Polaris RZR Race Report Racing The Geiser Spec Trophy Truck
by: Johnny Angal / UTVinc.com
Well I started desert racing just over a year and a half ago in a Polaris RZR and to my surprise (and in my eyes) I did pretty well. After about 10 months I started getting the itch and was thinking I wanted to race something a bit faster. When I got into racing the Polaris RZR my friends at Geiser Brothers had helped me a lot with stupid questions and were always willing to help. So when I got that itch the Geiser’s pretty much had sealed the deal before I even started shopping. They are known for building the most race winning trucks in the world. So after a couple of weeks of “This is what I want.” and “How much is this going to set me back?” They started working on a slightly used Geiser truck that I had purchased thru them. One of the things that was a deal breaker for me was the truck had King Racing shocks on it. After dealing with Fox Shocks, racing with them and the support they had provided me I would not buy the truck with the Kings on it. We came to an agreement where they would keep the Kings and they installed new Fox Racing Shox for me.
Well my plan was to race the Score International Races in Baja in the Truck and my new Polaris RZR XP Turbo car in the Best in the Desert races. The 2015 race season was just about over when I got this brilliant ideal. Since Polaris RZR is pretty much the definition of off road these days, I asked my contact at Polaris if he thought they might be interested in sponsoring a Spec Trophy Truck in the races. “Pipe Dream, Ya Right, wake up, You’re dreaming etc. etc.” Now remember, I have never raced anything other than my Polaris RZR so why would I think they would be remotely interested? Well low and behold they came back and said “Yes”! Not only that but they wanted to be the TITLE SPONSOR!!! I couldn’t believe it, me, going to my first race, with a title sponsor how cool is that! Thank you Polaris for all the love and support.
Anyway, I get the truck and head out to the desert for the first time. I am impressed! It’s crazy smooth and faster than I thought it would be. Next time I head out with Rick Geiser to “Geiser loop”. It’s a little testing loop on the north side of Phoenix. Well Rick lets me drive around the loop a couple of times giving me pointers here and there and then asks if I want him to drive? This way I can see what the truck will do. So we swap seats and I will admit after about 30 seconds I was looking for something to hold on to in the truck. My Catholic upbringing was back in full effect as I was praying to Jesus and thinking to myself ‘no freaking way’ as we repeatedly hit water bars that crossed the road at 90 plus MPH and flew a 100 plus feet thru the air! When he was done I mustarded enough thought to ask ‘So was that what you think race speed is going to be?’ His answer being “YEP!” Oh shit, I am in trouble, I thought to myself without trying to show the trepidation and anxiety that just entered my mind.
So I am thinking I need a lot more seat time because these guys are crazy! There is no way I am going to even be in the race. I just spent A LOT of money for that lesson. So I go out again and again even sneaking out Christmas Day to get seat time. My first race is going to be the San Felipe 250 and it’s a brutal race course. I start thinking maybe I should race the Parker 425 and get some real race experience. So I set that plan into motion but in the back of my mind I know I can’t race the whole 425 miles myself. All the racers I know are UTV racers. Who out of that group should I trust my life savings with that are now in the form of a race truck? Who do I know that is a safe, fast racer? Well I blame most of this racing addiction on one guy. This is the guy who hooked me up with my first RZR to turn into a race car. I also think how cool would it be to turn the tables on him since he also races a RZR and is pretty fast. I have chased him for miles in the desert, he hooked me up with a RZR, he works for my Title Sponsor and he can learn a lot from racing a truck as his Job is the General Manager of Polaris Off Road! So I send a text message to Craig Scanlon and ask if he wants to race with me. I tell him I only have one stipulation: you must fly out from Minnesota to practice and get seat time in the truck. He mulls it over, talks with his co-driver and says they are in! I think how cool this is, we are going to have a great time. So he does everything I asked: flies out for practice and for the pre run. My guys start getting the truck figured out and again Rick and Jeff Geiser go above and beyond helping us out with everything.
Okay, you are here because you want to know what it’s was like to race a truck don’t you?
Ok, fuck everything, we will get right to it! I won’t say “Thanks” to all my great sponsors like Polaris, Fox Shox, Method Race Wheels, Rigid Industries, Wolf Designs, CR Designs, Geiser Brothers, Howe Power Steering, Danzio Performance, Kroyer Racing, etc.
So race day is here! We line up around at 12 in the afternoon and the race starts at 1:30PM. I am ready but I’m also a bit on the scared, nervous, concerned, antsy, on edge, tense side but I know as soon as we are off the line adrenaline will take over and I will be fine.
We line up at 12 noon and head to the start downtown on the streets of Parker AZ around 1pm in the afternoon. We slowly start edging forward to the starting line. I am starting 23rd in my class and that’s behind about 120 cars and trucks that started in front of me. We start getting closer to the starting line and I think to myself ‘Should I just floor the truck and do a big nasty burn out when the flag drops?’ or ‘I should ease into it so I don’t break anything on the starting line.’ We pull up to the start line and we are next Casey, the gentleman that puts the races on, he shakes our hands and 30 seconds later we are off!
You’re thinking ‘Johnny floored that truck and did a smokey burnout’, right? Nah, as bad as I wanted to I eased into like an adult and yes I’m still thinking what a wussy! Anyhow we are off and racing! I am excited, I am pumped, holy shit, let’s do this! I take it easy on the black top section and off into the dirt. I push the go pedal down hard and the motor roars to life. It’s loud and I LOVE it! Boner, my co-driver/navigation man, and I start hanging the back of the truck out as we slide around corners and off the first jump. WOOHOOOO! Air time, that was so badass! I think to myself ‘Damn that was bad ass!’ We are doing around 90 mph now and I feel great. Boner is sitting next to me calling out turns, we are flying and I love it! We make it to about a 2 mile long straight away and I catch my first truck. I should just pull right up to him and give him a bump so he gets out of my way but I’m a little scared even though everybody does it. So I sit behind him for 30 seconds or so and then the course widens out a bit and I go for the pass! I tell yah, I’m sorry for the language but I’m really fucking excited at this point. First race, my first pass, hell yes! I am back in the gas with the pedal pinned on the floor. 80mph… 85mph… 90mph… 95mph! Oh my god! Boner and I bust knuckles as we fly down the road over jumps and bumps with the truck pitching back and forth because we are in the groves of the other racers ahead of us. At mile marker ~4 we go down a big sand hill and into the wash. There is a hard right handed turn that now has a couple of huge bumps in it where dirt has piled up about 4 feet tall. We hit the first bump and the front end of the truck springs up in the air and then straight down into the next pile of dirt. The front of our truck digs into it then springs back up, throwing a wall of sand and gravel into the air that we drive into. We are now covered with sand and gravel but you know what? None of that matters because as I came down the hill I saw the next truck in front of me just turning that same corner. I thought to myself ‘oh yes, I’m going to pass another truck in the first few miles of the race.’ I pull behind him pretty fast and you can just call me “The Gentleman Racer” because at first it looks like he sees me and is going to pull over but he doesn’t. I don’t pull up and bump him as we are getting pelted by rocks and gravel coming off his tires but I’m not going to let him go. He sees me, slows and pulls to the side so I can pass. so I floor the truck and go for the pass, hell yes, two down! I am now floored again and the truck engine is screaming! As I let off the gas pedal for the next corner… uh? What the hell…? I let off the gas but the truck is still screaming! I hit the brakes and hit the ignition switch to shut the truck down and pull off the race course. I tell boner the throttle pedal is stuck so he unbuckles his harnesses and crawls to my side and pulls the pedal up and frees it? I’m not sure what happened but its working now, so I start the truck up and he starts buckling up his harnesses as the two trucks that I had passed go roaring by us. ‘Damn’ I think to myself but we are off again.
I catch the first truck again pretty quick and get passed him but the second one is churning up a dust storm ahead of us. This is now a going to be a little harder to pass but I am thinking around race mile 15 or so I can get around him. We keep charging hard thru the dust and there really is no wind blowing, so it makes it difficult to catch and pass people. We slowly catch up and pass a few more racers. We are now on a graded road section and I am moving pretty good. 80 to 100 mph at times! I don’t make it all the way around one of the tighter corners and Boner and I plow a big pile of dirt on the edge of the road. We both take an extremely hard jolt to our bodies and I think I just wrecked this truck. I hit the gas and we are off and moving, everything must be okay. I ask Boner “Are you okay?”, he says “Yes!” and we go back to work. Shortly thereafter I am a going a little too fast again and I come around a corner over corrected and we are sliding sideways at 60 mph. I end up doing a 180 and facing the wrong way on the side of the course. I hit the gas as a truck flies by us and I get us back in the race. We are now eating his dust and of course I yell a bit at poor Boner and tell him to call the corners sooner! However, it was pretty much my fault as I was in control of the truck, not him.
Anyway, the first lap goes great and as we pit they tell us we are in 5th place and doing great. A quick drink of Gatorade and a couple folded up pieces of ham that they hand us is a welcomed treat but we have to get going. We pull out of the pits and as we come around the corner a full on Trophy Truck gets in front of us and Mills Motorsports V10 truck is right behind us. As we leave the speed zone of the pits we all hit the gas about the same time and you can feel the couple thousand horsepower roar to life, consuming fossil fuels at the rate of about 2MPG each! I stick to the truck ahead of me like glue for about ½ a mile. I see the Mills Motorsports truck right on my ass too. I know he has about 400 more horse power then I do, so I pull off the course doing about 80mph to let him pass. About half way thru the second lap I did get to pull up and bump a truck to get him to move. About that same time I was thinking to myself ‘God damn it got rough out here.’ Or, maybe I was thinking ‘I don’t know if I am cut out for this?’ I am getting the shit beat out of me! I really could not believe how tore up the race course had become. It was unreal. I also started to think poor Craig he’s going to race the last lap and boy is he in for a beating, he is going to hate me!
We had some fueling issues during the second lap that set us back to 8th or 9th place but I really don’t know. At the time I was so beat down I didn’t really care I just wanted out of the truck. As we pulled into the pits I jumped out and told Craig “It’s really rough out there, be careful.” Craig and his Co-driver Keith did a great job on keeping it together on the brutal course. After it was all said and done we finished in 8th place. Thanks guys! I am extremely happy with our first race finish and for a couple of guys with not a lot of seat time and having only raced our Polaris RZRs before I know we will get it down.
Huge thank you to everybody that helped make this happen for us!
Pit crew guys from Jagged X, High Lifter and my guy’s thank you all so much!
Boner, Craig, Keith, and the team at Polaris RZR, thank you!
Mad Media, 239 Films, Casey and the crew from Best in The Desert and all my fellow racers, thank you!
Jeff and Rick Geiser as well as the entire Geiser crew, thank you.
Fox Shox, Method Race Wheels, BFG Tires, Wolf Designs, Fiber Worx, Gear Works, Kroyer Racing, Danzio Performance, Lonestar Racing, ITP Tires, Impact Racing, Master Craft Racing, Ron Davis radiators, Pyrotech, Brembo Brakes, Aeromotive, Wire fab … Thank you all so much and a big thank you to all of those I always forget, Sorry …
“Boner” is Eric Ringler