Blogger turns Vlogger? That’s right! Here’s my first attempt at getting some behind the scenes footage of what I do when i’m not at the BikeBandit office writing blogs or other copy for our website! This past weekend I drove up to Henderson, NV for the Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno race which saw over 300 entries (from all over the world) take on 515 miles of Nevada’s most unforgiving terrain. Upon arrival we were greeted with 118 degree weather and had no choice but to push through it!
Tech and contingency took place Thursday, August 13th. All 3 cars (Honda Ridgeline Class 7 Truck and 2 Honda Talon Unlimited UTV’s) passed pre-race inspection with no issues! It was now time for our final team meeting and for the distribution of equipment and spare parts between all of the chase vehicles. My plan for the weekend was to set up “visual” pits at pit number’s 2, 6, and 13, as well as “fuel stops” at pits 4 and 9 so I loaded up our chase vehicle with 3 fuel red-head valve dump cans, a 55-gallon drum of extra fuel to refill the dump cans after the first fuel stop, 3 spare 32″ UTV tires just in case the Talon encountered any unwanted punctures, 2 huge tool boxes with everything you would ever need, spare front & rear axles, and our ice cooler full of food & drinks!
It’s race day! By luck of the draw to determine starting order, both Honda Talon Unlimited UTV’s driven by Christopher Polvoorde and Eliott Watson started towards the very end of the pack. That didn’t stop the boys from charging their way to the front early on in the race! At pit 2, only 80-something miles into the race, Chris and Eliott had already made their way into the top 5 physical positions and were battling for the podium on corrected time! In less than 100 miles, the boys moved up and passed 14 other Unlimited UTV’s!
Photos by Factory Honda Off-Road Racing
Honda Talon UTV
Unfortunately, “Watson’s Talon encountered a “freak” mechanical issue that all the testing and prep wouldn’t have solved. According to Jeff, “It’s a simple fix, and part of the fun of new race builds.” Jeff Proctor
Watson recounts, “It was great to be back behind the wheel of the Talon this weekend. Although, the end result doesn’t show it, I felt that we had a really strong run going with no mistakes and making passes early on in the race. With all of the silt, rocks, and heat of the day that we had to deal with, we showed that the Talons are capable to run up in the front of the pack of UTVs in demanding conditions. Now it’s time to focus on getting the Talons ready for Baja for the first time.” Eliott Watson
“Right off the start I saw a few opportunities and started picking off cars.” Polvoorde recalls his race day, “The dust was really bad, so any chance to get by someone, you had to take it. Once we got a solid track position I just cruised and started clicking off miles. Next thing we knew, we were third physically after starting 25th. Unfortunately at RM 290 we had a mechanical to deal with and we were down for about 2 hours. The team worked hard to get us back in course and we finished. Overall it was great to see see how fast theses cars were without even pushing hard.” The No. 2994 Talon finished the grueling race in P12* with a time of 15:37:51. Christopher Polvoorde
Honda Ridgeline Class 7
Our 2020 @bestinthedesert #vegastoreno was full of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In typical endurance Off-Road racing fashion, our team fought hard to overcome challenges to get to Reno.Jeff Proctor
After qualifying P1 in the Ridgeline, we started in front of the 10 cars but also behind a long dusty train of Spec TT’s. We worked through the blinding talcum powder dust over taking several spec trucks and widening the gap on our class for the first 150 miles. While approaching our first scheduled pit stop at Pit 4, we began to encounter vaper lock as our fuel cell was low. After a quick refuel and rear tires we were in a great track position and running strong. Unfortunately a mistake in the pits caused us to loose the driver rear tire and hub. Evan Weller made quick work of the situation with an in-field repair and we were moving forward without loosing track position.
There was a lot of race left and we kept our focus forward, yet being conservative due to our track position on the P2 truck. However, around race Mile 300 with low fuel and 26 miles until our next scheduled stop at pit 9, we began to encounter vapor lock again. We lost a considerable amount of down time, but we made it to Pit 9 for fuel and rear tires.
Pat Dailey and Mike Loomis got in the truck and the hub issue began to resurface. After making repairs and our team having the never give up attitude, Pat and Mike delivered the truck to Pit 12 in P2. Evan and I got back in and raced to the finish trying the close the gap. Ultimately finishing 21min behind the leader after having approximately 2 hours of down time during the race.
We will take the podium finish, but frustrated with not being able to link every variable together to win. We will fix our mistakes, make adjustments and come back stronger for the Baja 500 in September.
Thank you to all of our Partners, teammates, crew and fans that make it possible to race at this level of the sport.
On the pit crew side of things, Factory Team Honda Off-Road never lost sight of getting those vehicles across the finish line. If the win is no longer in contention, you want to at least finish, and that’s exactly what we all set out to do that weekend. Some of the chase crews, including my own, threw our pit plans out the window and made game-time decisions in order to guarantee that the #7209 Ridgeline and #2994 Talon made it to the very end. We drove back and forth between pits, topped off fuel at every other pit towards the end, and even made an emergency driver swap in the Talon to give it 110% to the checkered flag.
All in all, it was a great weekend in the desert and alongside Factory Honda Off-Road. I want to thank Jeff Proctor, Pat Dailey, and the entire Honda crew for letting me be a part of this effort time and time again. We will be back, and we’ll be stronger and faster!