The Best In The Desert racing series visits Parker Arizona two times a year. They hold a 425 mile desert race to kick off their season and come back in the fall for the BlueWater Desert Challenge, a two-day short course style event. The terrain in Parker is very demanding on the racers. It includes rocky sections, deep silt and shifting sands. The 425 mile race demands patience, the BlueWater is a sprint race. Regardless of the challenge, Banning Motorsports always does well in Parker.
The weekend actually began on Thursday when the 1023 qualified for starting position.
Unfortunately, they qualified 18th out of 19 class 1000 cars. Gary Williams, Chris Godfrey and Bradley Mcfarlin would have their work cut out for them. Qualifying requires going ten tenths on a short, technical course. The pressure is intense and crashes are common. There is no prize for throwing the car away before the race even starts. Lee Banning Sr. was unable to drive due to eye surgery so Gary Williams was behind the wheel.
On Saturday, the 1178 Banning Motorsports car driven by Bryan Folks and Ryan Marley would race first, taking the start in heat 2. They put in another impressive performance running trouble free to take the win. “The car worked great, the team worked great and the new lighter General Tires were perfect in these conditions,” said Bryan.
The 1023 was up next racing in heat 3. Gary Williams was behind the wheel with Bradley Mcfarlin navigating. Starting in the back, the dust is horrible. It takes great teamwork just to stay on course. The two did much better than just stay on course. They had only three intense laps to make their move and they did. After a blistering fast first lap they clicked off two more consistent laps before crossing the line. From their 18th starting position they moved up 11 spots finishing 7th in class, 10th overall!
After racing on Saturday it was time for the crew to get the cars ready to do it all again on Sunday. For all the action that takes place on the course, an equal amount of work is done in the pits. A huge reason for the team’s success comes from the hard work done behind the scenes. The crew and their families play a big part as well as the incredible support from their sponsors; Ford, General Tire, FOX,NEO Synthetic Oil, Select Glass, Azuñia Tequila, Foddrill Motorsports, Eibach Springs, Weddle Industries, Odyssey Battery, P.C.I Race Radios, MasterCraft Safety and KC Hilites. Everyone deserves an equal share of the team’s success.
Sunday morning would be a whole new challenge. After 5 heats run on Saturday, the course was even rougher. The dust would be thicker, the holes were deeper, the rocks were stirred up and the sand was ready to swallow a whole car; Sunday was all about survival. Chris Godfrey would start things off behind the wheel of 1023 in heat 2. It had been 25 years since Chris last drove in competition, his challenge would be great. Despite the dust, the rough course and the other competitors hot on his tail he maintained the huge gains Gary and Bradley earned the day before. They finished 7th again which gave the team 6th place overall in class 1000 on the weekend; a huge accomplishment for the fill in drivers.
In heat 3, Rick Graf would be behind the wheel with Megan Banning navigating. They started first in class and never looked back. They backed up the win on Saturday giving the team the overall victory in class 1100. “It was an absolutely perfect weekend for us!” said Bryan Folks. The weekend’s results put Bryan in an even stronger position to take another BITD championship.
The team is now preparing for the 46th running of the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. It’s just
around the corner on November 14-17. The team has to get the cars and support trucks in shape plus they will be taking donations to the kids at the oasis orphanage again. Lee will
be leaving on the 9th of November. Anyone who can contribute food, toys or clothing can drop them off at the shop or call Lee if you need them picked up.