The first desert race of 2014 is now history, and many Rigid Industries Racers were there to kick off this year’s racing season. As a part of the “The American Off-Road Racing Series,” the Blue Water Resorts and Casino 2014 Parker 425 was held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 in Parker, Arizona.
Held originally in 1971, the three-lap, 425-mile race is regarded as one of the tougher races on the BITD schedule and comes right before the prestigious Mint 400. Drivers can not gain valuable early points for the season championship, but can test their trucks on Parker’s brutal course as a lead up to the Mint. With multiple crashes, close-calls, and break-downs, this year’s event more than lived up to the race’s rigorous reputation.
Rigid Torture Team Member and five-time national off-road champion “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin concurred with the course’s toughness.
“Parker is kind of a quirky race, and alot of trucks don’t finish,” said Baldwin before the race, who won the 2010 Parker 425. “I’m going to race through the fast sections and try to tip-toe through some of the other stuff.”
BJ finished eighth overall in the time trials while a limit strap tore out the rear brake line on race day, costing approximately 15 minutes in repair time. The Baldwins (Bobby, BJ’s Dad, drove the last lap) finished 15th overall, picking up 118 points.
Rigid Racer Dale Dondel and the Racer Engineering team finished first in the Parker 425 Time Trials, capturing the coveted pole spot.
Dondel bested over 70 other drivers vying for the Team Ford Pole with a time of 3 minutes, 17 seconds with an average speed of 54.79 MPH on the three-mile qualifying loop course.
Not only did Dale win the $1,000 cash price and Team Ford Pole Trophy, he took home a Rockwell Watch. Like many others done in by the grueling, unrelenting Parker desert, Dale and his team unfortunately did not finish on race day.
After cutting their teeth in the competitive 1400 truck class, Rigid Torture Team Greene Motorsport made their debut in the premiere Trick Truck class at the Parker 425. The team spent last year testing their Trophy Truck and added off-road veterans, brothers Rhys and Ryan Millen, to their team.
Rhys, who has raced Trophy Trucks in six Baja 1000s, will mentor Ryan Greene this season while Ryan Millen will help the team with his navigation skills.
With belt issues plaguing them during the race, Greene Motorsport did not finish but will continue to test their truck to be ready for the Mint 400.
Other Rigid Racers who also participated in the Trick Truck race included Craig Potts, who battled two flat tires but still finished 11th overall, grabbing 122 points. Scott Whipple and Scott Gailey placed 17th and picked up 117 points.
Ray Griffith (121 points) ended up losing a tire after hitting a hole and finished the final three miles of the race with just three wheels!
Rigid Racers finishing the three-lap race also included Jacob LeCompte (120 points), Todd Tuls (118 points), Travis Chase (116 points), Adam Ray Lunn (113 points), Rob Martensen (110 points), and Steve Croll and Tim Weston (99 points).
In the two-lap race, Eric Heiden finished second in the 1700 P Class, fourth overall, for 108 points. George Mortis placed third in the 1700 P Class, sixth overall, for 105 points.
Congrats to all the Rigid Racers who participated in the Parker 425 and showed they were definitely RIGID TOUGH, and we’ll see you at the Mint 400 in Las Vegas on March 15th!
Additional information provided by BITD.com, Race-Dezert.com, Millen Adventures.com, and ParkerLiveOnline.com.