blank 08/20/15 07:05AM Best in the Desert, BITD, BITD Vegas to Reno, McMillin Racing, Readers Pics

McMillin Racing Brings Two Trucks Home In The Top Ten At Grueling, Vegas To Reno
Race Report

McMillin Vegas to Reno

The Best In The Desert series, Vegas to Reno race, is the longest off-road race in the United States. It travels 540 miles through remote Northern Nevada Desert. Typically, the race is run at full speed over long stretches of fast road. This year’s event was even tougher than normal. Recent rains severely degraded the course. The flowing rain water exposed the rocks and created deep, sharp edged ruts; some big enough to swallow a truck. Instead of the rains curbing the blinding dust, it was as thick and blinding as usual unless the wind was blowing.

Qualifying was held on Wednesday to determine starting positions. The time trials course was a fast 4.5 mile loop that ran on familiar terrain adjacent to the Jean dry lake bed outside Las Vegas. Luke McMillin qualified the #83 McMillin Racing Trophy truck in the 20th position with Brother Dan in the #23 Trophy Truck in the 21st position. Starting deep in the field, they would have their work cut out for them. Most believe that starting up front is an advantage, but on race day, the desert terrain is the great equalizer.

McMillin Vegas to Reno

The big news on Thursday was the announcement of the 2016 Best In The Desert race schedule. The 20th Anniversary of the Vegas to Reno race will be a multi-day event. Two days of racing; 650 miles total (300 miles on day one and 350 miles day two). The McMillin Family and McMillin Racing will be the sponsor of day one of the two day event.

Racing took place on Friday with Luke off the line ahead of Dan. He immediately started picking off spots on his way up through the field. “Our strategy for race day changed,” said Luke, “We would have to charge in any clean air we had. Right off the start, a couple guys in front of us broke and we caught and passed a few others. We experienced quite a few small issues right off the start, the most serious was an engine issue; we had a bobble at low RPM. We lost first gear and the truck was filled with the smell of burning transmission; making my co-driver, Chris Olimon nauseous. Chris got out at pit 5 and Cameron Parrish took over.”

“Without first gear and the engine bobble, we were slow to accelerate out of every corner, and a driveline vibration limited our top speed to 106 mph. We concentrated on getting to the finish and picked off more and more people as they got flat tires; we had no flats with our BFGoodrich KR2 tires the entire race. We finished 4th physically and 2nd overall on corrected time. Thanks to all the sponsors and the team for getting us to the race.  All of our pit stops were under 40 seconds; the team did a great job preparing for the race and all day, race day. We will be ready to do it again at the Baja 1000 in November.”

McMillin Vegas to Reno

Dan’s race was far different from Luke’s. His truck was running strong but he was plagued by “mystery flats.” Those are flat tires that happen without the driver taking notice of hitting anything. The faster a driver goes, the farther ahead of the truck he has to look. They don’t always see the offending rock and Dan’s King Shocks tend to soak them up with little protest. At the speeds they travel, the tires can get killed often and it may be as little as an inch that determines whether you get a puncture or not. “At race mile 275, we earned ourselves another flat,” said Dan, “we had two tires go down between pits 7 and 8. We had no more spares so we knew we had to be cautious until the next pit, just a short 10 miles away. Once we left pit 8, we charged hard and consequently added another flat tire to our total.”

“After the third flat tire, we had lost significant time. We knew our chances of a podium finish were slipping away, but we never gave up.  We passed a few more broken down race vehicles and were making up a lot of time on the lead pack. From race mile 300 to race mile 505, we had no issues and made up several minutes on the vehicles in front of us. We closed the gap on the truck in front of us from six minutes to only 45 seconds. At race mile 505, with the finish line only 40 miles out, we earned this flat, clipping a rock I couldn’t avoid at 90 mph. After that, we charged even harder to pick off anyone who was in cruise control to the finish line, and we did. When the checkered flag dropped, Casey and I had earned 10th Overall, and 9th Trophy Truck.

McMillin Vegas to Reno

Despite our four flat tires, that cost us an estimated 20 minutes, it was a great race for the team, as both trucks finished. I would like to thank my Parents, the McMillin Racing Team and all of our friends who come out to help and support us!  I also, want to thank DLM Real Estate, BFGoodrich Tires, Ultra Race Wheels, King Shocks, Maxima Racing Oils, Baja Designs, K&N Air Filters, Howe Performance, Walker Industries and Kroyer Racing Engines for their excellent support.”

It was Luke who was first to the checkered flag at Vegas to Reno; taking an excellent second place finish. Dan will be out to even the score when the two line up again at the 48th Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 on November 19th-21st.


Photo Credits: Bink Designs


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