Off-Road Assassin

Post-Race Analysis Changes Winner At Silver State 300

This past weekend kicked off the restart of desert racing with the Best In The Desert VT Construction Silver State “300” Presented by Polaris, and what a race it was. Racers from all over the United States showed up to test themselves against the best of the best and fans were not disappointed. Holding a 300-mile point-to-point race in the midst of a pandemic took a thorough amount of planning, but add in a wildfire that caused last-minute racecourse re-routes, and organizers had their work cut out for them.

In pure Best In The Desert fashion, the race continued and was a huge success. With 289 race teams, including 93 UTVs competing for a title, the race shattered previous entry records. Everyone attending was respectful and followed COVID-19 protocol including social distancing and mask guidelines. Once the fire broke out, just hours before the start, race organizers and officials were quick to reroute the course and communicate the changes with racers and fans through social media platforms.

A wildfire resulted in a course re-route and updated finish line for Cars, Trucks, and UTVs.

Some motorcycles and quads were able to go the full race distance due to their early start, but the majority of the motorcycles and quads were stopped at Pit 7 for their official finish line. The finish line for Cars, Trucks and UTVs was relocated to Pit 6 due to the growing fires. Even with an abbreviated course, Cars, Trucks and UTVs still finished 220 miles while motorcycles and quads got close to 270 miles of tough racing.

“The 2020 VT Construction Silver State ‘300’ Presented by Polaris will go down in the record books as one of the most important, and quite frankly most interesting, races in off-road racing,” said Bryan Folks, CMO of Best In The Desert. “We showed the off-road community we could get back to racing and pull off an amazing event in spite of COVID-19, wildfires, and a host of other challenges thrown our way.”

“Donald Jackson and our entire Operations Team did an absolutely amazing job managing these challenges, and in the end, put on one of the best races of the year,” Folks continued. “The smiles and heartfelt ‘thank yous’ of all the competitors, support crews, and fans we experienced at the finish line was more than sufficient reward.”

The VT Construction Silver State “300” Presented by Polaris saw some of the closest racing in years. But what was most notable was the spirit, resilience, and appreciation amongst off-road racers to be back together racing again. The event saw its share of curveballs with the fast-moving wildfire but everyone was quick to react, with racers accepting the challenges and last-minute changes with a positive attitude. At the end of the day, the event proved to be a great success.

“All things considered, we pulled off an unbelievable event when the cards were stacked against us,” said Operations Manager Donald Jackson. “I want to personally thank the Best In The Desert staff for adapting last-minute to changing conditions, the volunteers who moved locations and jumped in where they saw we needed extra help, Motorsports Safety for helping with course diversions and getting times for our scoring team, the racers for their understanding and adapting to changes out of our control and also to the Bureau of Land Management Caliente Field Office.”

“It would have been real easy for BLM to postpone or cancel the event due to the wildfire but the BLM worked with us and gave the racers as much mileage as possible until the safety factor was too high to risk for the full distance,” Jackson continued. “Without all these people involved, the event would have not been a success or possible without everyone working together as a team effort.”

The VT Construction Silver State “300” Presented by Polaris saw some of the biggest names in off-road racing put on quite a show for spectators and race fans. Highlights in just a few of the classes include:

Skylar Howes braved the whole course as a single rider.

Overall Pro Motorcycle/Quad Pro Class:

Solo Husqvarna rider Skyler Howes and the Factory Beta team of Joe Wasson and Chance Fullerton battled all day long only seconds apart. Howes pulled a slight margin in the closing sections and won in 4:32:59 with Wasson/Fullerton just 69 seconds behind, and the Hayden Hintz/Trevor Hunter KTM team rounding out the podium a few minutes later. Perennial Quad Pro Class Champion Erin Simmons took home the win In the Quad Pro class.

UTV Turbo:

Can-Am’s Phil Blurton and co-pilot Beau Judge finished with a 4:14:18 elapsed time just a minute ahead of Dustin Jones. Brandon Sims came in third only two minutes later with Brandon Schueler just another two minutes behind Sims. A review of the UTV Turbo class shows a mere nine minutes in elapsed time separating the top 10. 46 entries left the starting line making this the largest class of the day.

Robert Van Beekum took the UTV Unlimited Class win just one minute ahead of Randy Raschein.

UTV Unlimited:

This class also saw a tight race with Robert VanBeekum racing for Polaris taking the win just one minute ahead of Randy Raschein with a 4:28:22 elapsed time. Perennial class champion Michael Isom came in just 30 seconds behind Raschein to place third.

Class 6100:

Though Kyle Jergensen was put in a rear start position due to an unfortunate crash in Time Trials, he ended up winning the class in 4:00:24, overtaking Travis Williams and Troy Messer by three minutes and three minutes and a half, respectfully. It was incredible to see Brenthel Racing’s Jergensen fight his way to the finish from the back of the pack! Similar to the UTV Turbo Class, only 11 minutes separated the top 10 finishers.

Jake Johnson, the winner of the competitive Class 1500, raced over 200 miles in under four hours landing him a Top 10 time overall.

Class 1500:

Jake Johnson took home the win in the always-competitive Class 1500 finishing in 3:56:20, racing over 200 miles in under four hours is beyond impressive and lands him a solid Top 10 time overall!!! Rhys Millen finished strong in 2nd at 4:05:56 and rounding out the podium was Event Title Sponsor “ VT Construction” brand new car driven by Ladd and Sean Gilbert with a time of 4:09:43.

Trick Trucks:

This class was super competitive with big names including Luke and Dan McMillin, Jason Voss, Bryce Menzies, Justin Lofton, BJ Baldwin, Adam Householder, Steve Olliges, Kevin Thompson/Harley Letner, Tracy Graf and 15-year-old phenom Jax Redline going head to head for the overall win. No. 35 Voss led physically for 148 miles into Pit 4 before driveline problems dropped him to 9th in the final standings. From there, the no. 70 Thompson/Letner and no. 83 Luke McMillin battled the rest of the way for the overall, each leading at various points on time.

Luke McMillin on his way to a first-place finish in the Trick Truck class.

However, a post-race analysis revealed that the no. 70 Thompson/Letner team made an off-course deviation at mile marker 139 and was subsequently penalized 30 minutes for the infraction, dropping them to 14th in the final standings. As a result, Luke McMillin took the hard-fought overall win by 3:26 over Bryce Menzies in 2nd with no. 27 Steve Olliges another 2:36 back in 3rd. No. 97 BJ Baldwin came home in 4th place.

Class 1000:

Conner McMullen ended up taking home yet another class win after beating Bret Jeffers by a mere 16 seconds, proving to be another super-tight race.

Full the full results of the 2020 VT Construction Silver State “300” Presented by Polaris, be sure to visit the Best In The Desert website.

Steven Olsewski

He grew up with a true passion for anything with an engine. During the year he can be found enjoying the outdoors, building Legos with son, and wrenching in the garage on his race truck.

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