I was winning. Until I wasn’t.

What a fantastic week! After a long brutal winter, some SLIGHTLY warmer weather and desert therapy is just what the team needed. Read on for a tale of incredible highs and dismal lows. The 2023 Mint 400 was an emotional roller coaster for us here at Off Map Racing, and despite the setbacks, we are excited to finish off this season and return to the Mint next year.

It was snowing when we shoved our Race Car and Prerunner in the trailer. Some of you will immediately think. Why bring the Prerunner? You can’t prerun the mint. Our good friends at Superwinch and X Comp Tires were sharing a booth this year, and the Prerunner has all of the good stuff on it from both companies, so we volunteered to bring it down for them to use in the booth. Thankfully the day we headed for Vegas, the snow had let off, and we mainly had dry roads to sin city.

Upon arrival, step #1 was cleaning the road dirt that had built up outside our truck and borrowed trailer. Side by Customs lent us their 38-foot enclosed for this race so we could get both cars to Vegas behind one truck, and I was not about to drive their billboard around filthy all week. After about an hour in the semi-truck wash wait line, we went to the timeshare we always use for this week.



One of the things we love about racing the Mint is ALL the other things you can do, and this year was no exception. If you get to Vegas for whatever reason, you should check out the Meow Wolf Museum. It’s not a typical museum, more of a sensory overload. If I had to describe the experience, it would be like the  Home of Tomorrow at Chicago’s 1930s World Fair; only Andy Warhol was in charge of everything. Confusing right? You have to experience it yourself.

Parade day. This is a huge bucket list item for me. I’ve watched the parade but never been in it. Let alone in my car. Recall the snow I mentioned earlier. The cars were filthy. It was way too cold to try and wash them at home, so we had to find a wash in Vegas. I threw dirty Mike and the Boys in the truck, and we found this awesome little car wash in a bit of town that isn’t the flashy side of Vegas. It was a little chilly, but I bet this car wash is a happening spot when it’s warmer. 90s hip-hop blasting while bathing the cars was superb. We had a few locals come to chat us up, too—super cool carwash.

The parade itself. AWESOME. But let me tell you about a side of this dog and pony show that the average spectator doesn’t see. There are roughly 250 spots in the parade, and you have to register to be in it. Those 250 cars must be unloaded and staged in a parking lot that won’t hold the cars, let alone the race trailers involved. So it was a mess. And then that whole mess had to move into downtown vegas to get them picked up—super big shout out to Las Vegas Metro PD. I don’t know any other city that could pull that off. But thankfully, they were doing a little bit of a pre-tech inspection which we passed, and the only thing we had left to do on Fremont the next day was our fire gear. I have some stills from the parade, but the crowd was amazing. During the safety brief, we were told 150k people were standing on the roadside and overpasses waiting to see this show, and I believe that to be an understatement. The bridges and the southbound lane were standing room only. Every possible vantage point along the strip had people standing almost on each other to get a look, and not going to lie. Felt like a rockstar.

Tech and contingency day. This year was extra special. For the first time, I can remember we were taking the cars under the canopy. One of my guys had brought his girls with him on this trip, so I decided to opt out of being in the vehicle for this and sent him and the two girls in the car. The ear-to-ear grin on that 12 and 8 is a highlight of the trip for me, and I can’t wait until my two are big enough to experience it. His oldest steered the car through the tech line while we pushed.

Due to changes in how things are registered, tech took a lifetime this year. But we made new friends in the line. I got to chat with many of our sponsors and potentially made some new ones (time will tell). It was a long day, and with the final race prep required still, it was a mad dash back to the parking lot of our hotel to put it all together for race day.

RACE DAY. I have been doing this for several years now. I still get nervous on race morning. Until that green flag drops, I am like a chihuahua without his anxiety meds. It’s not anxiety, but it’s the level of excitement that starts to grey that distinction. This year was worse, however. In the dark of leaving the lot…. Our iPad was left on the truck bed and had flown out. The remote pit crew was still there, and when we noticed it missing, they went into full Colombo mode, trying to find it. After giving up and going to our backup nav setup, Eric was driving down Tropicana blvd and saw it in the middle of the road. Undamaged after being in the lane for several hours at this point! If you had your doors blown off by a Cherokee on the way to Primm that morning, I apologize. I, too, wasn’t aware those little jeeps could go that fast.

Let’s talk about the race for a minute. Our class was in the back aways. Not entirely sure, but I think we were somewhere around the 110th car of the line that day. In class, we had pulled a 4th place start. Going off the start line next to our new friend Mike Merryman was awesome. Looking back at the video Mike had either a delayed reaction or his motor bogged initially, and we were able to take the lead thru most of the short course.

In the last big corner before the speed zone, I ran a little wide, and he would come under me and take the spot back as we entered the speed zone. For those unfamiliar with this, there is a large solar farm in Primm, and on the access roads, we have to keep it to 25mph while in this area. This is awkward for the racers. We get ramped up and go wheel-to-wheel racing for 1.5 miles. Then it’s 25mph max for 3 miles before we can return to racing.

Just after the speed zone, there are some whoops, and then we hit what everyone calls Rockets at race mile 5. I had been staying just out of Mike’s dust till this point. Rockets is a dry lake bed, so finding your car’s max speed here is common. It turns out 97mph on the GPS is our top speed, and we blew past to take 3rd quickly. My clutch tunning guy is brilliant. He thinks we can get it up over 100 next time. We started getting into some slower class traffic pretty quickly after that. I passed a couple of the 1400 class trucks before we caught up to 2nd in class. He wasn’t set up correctly for the whoops we were in, and my car bounced by him pretty quickly. 2nd on course. Before race mile 15. Wow, we were hauling it.

Watch us move into 2nd place thru all the traffic.

Pit 1 is 21 miles into the race. We were in 2nd by a healthy margin at this point. It was time to go to work and find that #1 spot. After pit one, we immediately hit the Fox proving grounds. This section sucks and is immediately followed by the rock quarry, then the shooting range road. Somewhere along shooting range road, we made that pass. I’m not sure what was broken in their car, but both people were out and working on the vehicle’s rear. They gave us a thumbs up as we went by and from that point on. We were in the lead. I didn’t back out of it, but it was time to start playing conservatively. I pulled into remote pit two and had them give the car a good once over, and we were back at it. There were still 200 miles left to go, and we held the physical lead in class. Beer Bottle Pass. Done. And it was onto the Johsua tree highway. Easy enough. When we rounded the last bend and saw Primm again, it was all downhill.

And that’s when it all went wrong. Every racer has this same story at some point in their career. “I was winning until I wasn’t.” We hit something that would later turn out to be an adorable little rock, and the front-fight knuckle decided it was done. Yesterday morning I was looking over the broken parts, and it appears that we cracked that hub somewhere earlier in the race (my guess is the rock quarry), and that little impact was enough for it to finish giving up. The video of our flop on its side is just below.

One minute you’re on the road looking at the scenery. Next thing ya know you’re in the scenery looking at the road.

A gentle land on the passenger corner is almost not even worth talking about. We scrambled out of the car, and Jon went to flag traffic as we were not in a good location. I set about getting the tie rod undone. Those death-grip stage 3 tie rods from Kryptonite are excellent. I can’t believe it was the only piece still holding that whole side of the car on. With that undone, I grabbed a strap and started begging for someone to put me back on my feet. A 2-seat UTV tried to stop, but it was soft ground, and he was too light. Rather than risk his race, I told him to stop and sent him on the way. I wouldn’t risk his belt drive trying to fix my mistake. Thirty-three minutes go by, and 2nd place in class finally overtakes me. We made it to race mile 86 and had a 33-minute lead. I was shocked.

Finally, a jeep came by and put us back on our wheels (I still need to find this guy as I want to send him a case of beer from our sponsors at Roosters). Race Safety showed up seconds later and started getting us off the course and figuring out how to get it somewhere safe. These guys are fantastic. I won’t get into details, but they put much effort into getting us somewhere safe to repair the car and get going again. While we were getting towed out, we got a hold of our crew at the main pit, and they sent everything we needed to limp it home out to us with one of the course officials. Super fantastic of them to mule parts for us, as we would have been disqualified had someone from our team entered the race course.

Fast forward a bit, and Jon and I band-aided the car enough to limp it back to the main pit. One axle and prayer is all that stood between us and being broken down again, but we made it. I’m going to get a little gushy here for a minute. When I tell people I couldn’t possibly do this whole racing thing without the crew I have, it’s not a lie. It’s not even an exaggeration.

Our pit looked like someone had kicked over an ant hill, but it was all purposeful movement. 2 new axles, brakes fixed and bled, ball joints replaced, full load of fuel, and we were off again. This time it was Mike in the Co-Driver seat, and we went back to work. After the Off Map team put it together, I had complete faith in the car, and I SENT IT. Another 97mph run across rockets to remote pit one, and it was all throttle for that lap. Coming around to the main pit again, I only needed fuel. During our repairs, we dropped to 5th in class. (Apparently, I wasn’t the only one having a rough day). In that heater of a lap two, we had clawed our way back into 3rd.

Lap 3, GO! If the math was correct, we had about a 20 min buffer of crossing the start line inside the allotted time—no chance to slack off, so I kept the screws to it. We had lost our victory chances. But we had a solid shot at a podium finish.

“I was killing it… until I wasn’t.”

Around 15 miles into the final lap, a faster class car caught us. I could see his lights getting closer and was counting the seconds those lights disappeared every time we rounded a corner. He was gaining. So I made the command decision to let him by. I pulled over on the widest section I could find to give him ample passing room. Car 1996 decided that in a 40 ft wide section ( I paced it off later), the 76in wide section where I had come to a complete stop is where he wanted to be. He slammed into us, ripping the front left side of the car off. I knew we were screwed when I could see the end of the tie rod sticking straight up. We were out of the race with no time left on the clock to fix it.

This sucks, but let’s not dwell on it. I am a big believer in PMA. Positive Mental Attitude. When we got hit. I was upset and may have gone a bit ballistic initially. Okay, I was furious. But the PMA kicked in quickly, and I realized that rage doesn’t help. A quote I love came to mind. Timothy Olyphant’s character in the TV show Justified said, “You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day – you’re the asshole.” I was not going to let this one incident turn me into one. And I damn sure wouldn’t let that overshadow our team’s amazing work. These guys and gals took a car that should have been out of the race. A car had flopped over on its side and been put back into a race and into podium contention. All of their efforts and that achievement alone was cause for celebration. And celebrate we did with our favorite beers from Rooster’s Brewing.

I have to give some serious shout-out to X Comp tires. The four tires that started this race are still on the car. Despite the roll and the hundreds of times we should have been changing a tire, we didn’t. I have never had a tire survive 200+ miles of brutal rocks as these did. And with two accidents directly involving tires, they look almost new still. So the race course closed shortly after the final incident, and the team was able to drive right up to me. Instead of limping the car out, we put it back together. And drove it onto the trailer. Our race week wasn’t over yet.

Saturday, the big trucks race. Our race was Friday, and the Unlimited guy’s race was on Saturday. Earlier, we promised cars to our good friends at Superwinch and X Comp for their booth. Despite the setbacks of Friday, we still wanted to do that. Bright and early, we rallied the troops and took our Prerunner to their booth at the start-finish line. Their crew had been delayed getting out to the both that morning. Without hesitation, my crew got everything opened for business and started sharing the dream with avid race fans. We went from race car team to booth babes overnight, and it was awesome.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long-winded (again) story. I hope you enjoyed it. I have a ton of pictures to add and sponsors to thank, but more than anything, I need to thank the people who wore the Off Map Racing hat. This event showed me the work we have been putting in and the experience we have gained racing bush league series has paid off, and we are ready to chase the big podiums this year. Today is Thursday. 99% of the parts I need to fix the car will be here today. I have the business’s best sponsors, and they sent everything as fast as possible to get us back into the fight.


All Thingz UTV was right there with us, and my team welder was able to put them back in the fight after a nasty roll too. Dustin has been a long-time supporter of ours and had almost everything we needed at hand, and he put it en route asap.

Desert Speed Shock Tuning killed it again. The car ran excellent, and with everything he’s upgraded over the year, we hit speeds we never could before over stuff that you shouldn’t be able to haul across.

Peughs brew coffee. We love Brad, and although he couldn’t make this race, he still made an impact. He sent us the wake-up juice, and we handed out coffee in the pit to anyone after a cup.

Side-By-Customs. I can’t even put into words the work this team put into fabricating a new chassis for this car. I dread rolling the car back into them with what I’ve done to it. Sorry in advance, everyone, but it looks worse than it is.

Prescott Custom Wraps. Troy and Monica rock. They put so much effort into this showing for us; I can’t thank them enough. They wrapped both cars and continued to bring the heat with pit boards and even sandwich labels. Troy is a good wrench too, and he put the front end of the car back together to his credit before he gave me any crap about the wrap being scratched.    

Kryptonite products. Seriously. Both sides of the car were ripped off; the only thing holding the pieces to the car was those stage 3 tie rods. Crash tested. Off Map Approved. Thanks for being a part of the team Kryptonite.

Superwinch and Westin rock. They have been our longest supporters; without their help, we wouldn’t have some of our great sponsors. They believed in us and have shared that belief with anyone curious, which has been a major assist. It was awesome hanging out with them this week, and looking forward to the next one.

HCR. Both side A-arms are still straight. Just saying. I don’t think I can explain it better than that. Plus, they are just damn good people. Patrick is who usually answers the phone these days. Just give him a call and tell him I sent you.

PCI Race Radios went above and beyond for us on this trip. We had a radio issue, and they did everything possible to sort it out. The radio is just stubborn. The result was, “here, take this one and send us yours, and we’ll sort it out” we went from zero coms for the race to crystal clear that we needed—big shout out to Weatherman Scott as we availed ourselves of his service on race day as well. I hope never to need you in that fashion again, buddy!

Wilwood Engineering brakes performed terrifically. We had such a drastic lead because I could finally break into corners. Going from 4 pistons on the front to 12 makes a big difference.

Roosters Brewing killed it for us, and I wish I could have been on the box holding a beer of theirs. The next race will try again, but we still celebrated our success with our sponsors and friends sharing a few ice-cold Mexican lagers.

Corbeau saved our bacon this race. Two separate accidents, and I didn’t question my safety gear once. The containment seats did their job, and the harnesses kept us tight. Very Very happy we put those seats in before this race. Comfortable too.

X Comp Tires were terrific. I already spoke at length about how well they held up. But they also hooked up, and we had more than enough traction in every situation. It was also a riot helping them in the booth over the week. We are thrilled to be part of the elite driving team that X Comp supports.

Tackform mounts. All three cameras are on the car. Even the ones outside the cage made it home. Tackform mounts survived all of that mess. Super stoked.

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