Vegas To Reno 2015 Polaris RZR Turbo ITP Tire Race Report – Johnny Angal 1921 UTVinc.com
As I sit here less than 2 days after a none stop storm tryin to turn a 2016 Polaris RZR Turbo in to a off road race car my neck is sore, my stomach, back, arms, shoulders, teeth, jaw, hands well you get the Idea but let me tell you not just me but after the race when you see all your fellow racers slowly climbing out of their race cars after 10 12 15 hours of getting tossed around in the race car, sweeting, you have a death grip on the steering wheel as the car gets bashed, you bottom out in large washes and the g-forces pound your spine and every joint and muscle in your body and after the first 100 miles you asking your self what the hell was I thinking ? what am I doing here ?
Well this race was a pretty special race for me and my Team after winning the Baja 1000 last year Polaris Industries sponsored my team, ya that’s what I was thinking why the hell would you put your faith, your Company name and everything you built behind Me a 50 year old guy that has never really raced anything ? well they did and when they released the 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo they Invited me to the release in Las Vegas and asked me If I wanted one to race ? how freaking special is that ? now you guys have to understand im 99.99999% sure they didn’t think I was stupid enough to Risk a season of racing and Being the Current 1900 Pro UTV Class points leader on a new untested as far as Racing is concerned machine as we all know that taking anything and Driving it as fast and as hard as you can none stop 545 Miles thru the most brutal terrain in Nevada will break anything and everything it can… Can you say Death Valley, Area 51, miles of burning hot, desolate Valleys, sand washes and barren waste land that is so remote they tested the first atomic bombs in the area because they knew nobody was stupid enough to ever journey into the area.
Well im sure they didn’t want nor think that somebody could build a competitive desert race car out of one of their brand new just released Turbo RZRs in 12 days and even if they could if a person was stupid enough to do that and they broke down 50 miles in the race it wouldn’t exactly be good for new car sales and I had that in the back of my mind when I told my Team at the shop we had less then two weeks to turn a stock RZR into a race car and throw caution into the wind again and race it with no spare parts 545 miles from Vegas to Reno
As we started the build and posting up a few pictures of our progress I was expecting a call from somebody at Polaris asking me what the hell I was doing and why would I risk everything on a new untested machine ? but that call never came and all I could think about was the new turbo machine was faster and I wanted to go faster. I also knew it was the next step of progress of all that they had learned thru the years and not JUST a faster more powerful machine but a complete upgrade of all the systems in the RZR that made it better, Better transmission, better brakes, clutchs, engine, the whole package
So anyhow I asked my two main fabrication guys Eric “Boner” Ringler and Craig Hammar if they could get it done ? really I told them here its is and I want it done in 10 Days and after getting the machine at 4:30 Pm they had it tore down into piles of parts scattered about our shop floor the first night, the next day I started making Phone calls to all the people that support our Team, Like Dan Fisher from lonestar racing asking him if he could build me custom axles in a week and if he had a spare racing fuel tank laying around and he said yes yes and yes, my guy from Fox Racing Shox Yes Yes and Yes, my guy from Rigid Industries LED Lighting Yes Yes and Yes, Method Wheels, ITP Tires, Wolf Designs, Crow Racing Harnesses, Impact Racing, PCI Race Radios, UPR racing supplies, SDHQ, everybody I called was there for us Making it happen it was The Team making it happen not me but the amazing people we work with making our problem there problems and getting it done for us. Thank You all so Much
Well we got it done and started loading our two chase trucks because we had to pull out the next morning for the 6 hour drive to Las Vegas for Tech inspection and contingency and the to the 5PM Drivers Meeting and yet even more another 2 hour drive to the starting line and the hotel we spent the night at the Death Valley Inn
The next morning is Race Day and Im thinking we will be off the starting line around 11:30 am but they want us to line up at 8:30 am lol so we can sit in the sun and cook in our full Fire race suits and knowing better I pull over to the staging area around 10 am and yep you guessed it sit in the sun cooking and sweeting till we leave the starting line right around 11:30
Yes we are off and running and the new car hauls ass we pass 2 or 3 cars in the first 10 miles and then our first problem is realized I had the guys set up the ride height a little lower for this race as last year it wasn’t to ruff but this year 250 other race cars and trucks started ahead of us and have worn huge deep rutts in the race course so our car is dragging it belly and bottoming out all over the place I tell Boner he needs to call the chase truck in Pit 1 and tell them they need to jack up the car and adjust the shocks so the car rides higher and he does, well about the time he gets done with that the car engine has overheated and we have to pull over to let it cool down, you see when we built the race car we had to modify the cooling lines and added a front bumper and lights to the front of the car in front of the radiator and turbo intercooler thus slowing down air flow to and thru the radiators so I also tell him to call to the pits and tell them to pull off the front lightbar hoping that would help it was 110 degrees out in the shade and we had to keep pulling over to let the car cool down and as we set on the side of the race course watching all the other racers drive by us we knew the mistakes we had made pretty quick
We made it to the first pit loosing at least 30 minutes and the changes helped a lot we where off and hauling ass again and when I could keep the car cool we would fly past the competition but in the 2 to 3 foot deep silt beds and deep sand and gravel the temps would still climb on the car and we had to pull over and let them pass us back and at this point I figured we just had to deal with it as we knew we had screwed up and didn’t have the tools or parts to fix it at this race
So we raced on having to take it easy on the gas pedal but even with that we slowly started gaining ground we also had a couple of problems with our rear aftermarket axles that slowed us down when we hit a large washed out section of road doing about 70 mph and when we pulling into the pits we had a problem removing the CV cup from the transmission to install a spare
Our chase pit crew was on the spot getting everything fixed as fast as they could while fueling our car with gas, fixing problem, feeding us and giving us drinks at the pits
We had one flat tire and Boner jumped out making quick work of it changing it out and I had told Boner I was going to race all 545 of the race myself with him as my navigator but if I did get wore out I was going to get out and have him get in the drivers seat with Craig as his navigator because Craig was the Navigator during the second half of the race last year and Im sure Boner was excited about it because in the last year and a half I had never let him drive he had always been my navigator well as his luck would have it around 10 PM race mile 400ish I told him I was ready to get out I had had enough and even my teeth hurt and he said his neck was sore I told him I would call on the radio and have Drew and Craig finish the race when all of a sudden he piped up with “oh my neck don’t hurt that bad” as we chuckled I knew after building me the best race rzrs over the last year he wanted nothing more then to get in the drives seat and show us how he could shine and I told him take it easy as there is nothing more important the getting this car across the finish line
As we rolled into the pit at race mile 410 I climbed out of the car cutting my finger and now bleeding all over the place Boner and Craig took off into the darkness it had cooled off a lot and we were able to drive harder and faster the next race update I got was we were in third place and I was so excited Boner and Craig had to pull over a few more times to cool down but it seemed as they where staying in third place and I thought to myself how fucking cool is that building a race car in 12 days and we going to podium the race little did I know their where two cars infront of us that trackers didn’t work so we where really in 5th place as I walk up to the finish line in the dark I thought it was our car sitting their but as I got closer I realized it was Jagged X while it took a few minutes for that shit to sink in our car crossed the finish line in 5th place
Im still super happy with the 5th place finish and my awesome Team that make it all possible and as it turned out I think we held our lead in the points race for the end of the season
In all reality How cool is even finishing a 545 Brutal off road race that rattles, shakes, pounds, and beets to death over half of the machines that start the race !!!!!!!!!
Congrats to all the racers and teams that took on Vegas To Reno !
Thank You Polaris RZR, UTV INC, Lone Star Racing, Method Wheels, ITP Tires, Wolf Designs, Rigid Lights, UTV Underground, Mad Media and everybody else that plays the tiniest part in our race program. Without you we wouldn’t be racing!
And a Special shout out for the help from Marc Burnett and Branden Sims