It is well known that the Nevada desert can be just as brutal as racing down in Baja. It will suck you up and spit you out with no forgiveness. The 2014 BITD Vegas To Reno did just that to numerous teams as the 534-mile course was damaged by new rainfall creating sharp rain ruts and pulling down jagged rocks. One thing the rain did not change however was the amount of deep silt that spread through the course like an infection. These obstacles would challenge the Banning team but it wasn’t without a hard fought fight that they would either finish or have to load up.
The 1588 car lined up for qualifying two days before the race and the 300hp 4-cylinder Ford Ecotech car managed to qualify 42nd for Fridays race. With over 70 competitors in the Unlimited Classes, all looking to take the overall win, this starting position could benefit the team as it is well known that the winner for Vegas To Reno commonly comes from the back with a faster overall time. However going up against other vehicles with 500-800hp would be where the 1588 car would need to focus on not making any errors and holding a steady speed.
Steering the 1588 Banning Motorsports car for the first half of the race would be Bryan Folks and navigating would be Tim Sullivan. Passing competitors and moving up in corrected time, the 1588 had a smooth first half of the race. As the Banning chase teams fought just to keep up with the car and make it to the next pit on time, Folks and Sullivan didn’t back down until they made it to pit 8 and hand over driving and navigating to Rick Graf and Bradley McFarlin. Fleeing from pit 8 to make up time again, Graf would push the car to the limits and running in the top 10 in the 1500 class. It would be between race mile 405-410 that mechanical problems would have the car pulling off the course and having to call it a night.
“It was a bittersweet ending to our race.” Stated Graf. “We are really on our way to making this car a podium finishing car. Just some minor tweaks and a few more testing days, we will have this thing dialed in.”
KC HiLites is the original manufacturer of off road lighting. With a solid reputation for quality and performance, there was no hesitation when Banning and KC HiLites partnered. Banning Motorsports runs numerous KC HiLites products from their KC Pod to their 24″ LED light bars. There is no doubt that KC HiLites offers every light one would need for their race car or personal vehicle.
Another highly competitive class in the BITD series is the 10 class. With Lee Banning Sr. piloting the #1023 car and Chris Godfrey guiding Banning along the course, this duo was working well together as they steered their way through tight rocky sections and running smooth on the fast roads. As they pulled into Pit 4, a quick drivers change would see Gary Williams taking over driving duties. Not skipping a beat, the 1023 charged forward passing fellow competitors and chased the sun to Pit 8 where the last drivers change for the day took place. Lee Banning Jr. grasped the wheel and headed towards the finish line. Before they would make it passed the checkered flag the car would lose a fan belt and cause the team to pull off the course for the minor repair. Once back on course the Banning Jr. and Godfrey made the final stretch and crossed the finish with a 3rd place finish.
Starting 4th of the line would be young gun Hayden Melton behind the wheel of the 1178 car and Jake Dewitt in charge of navigating. By Pit 4 the duo would take over the lead in the 11 class and continued their charge forward to Pit 7 where they completed their only driver change for the race. Steve Melton would take over driving duties and never looked back at the dust he was leaving behind. The 1178 car made their way through the Nevada desert with what they thought was an alternator issue. They made it across the finish line and onto the podium to claim the win. When attempting to leave the podium the car would not restart.
|“After the podium interview the car would not restart due an electrical issue. We got by a potential big problem that could have cost us the win had we stopped to check out the issue. We made a good call and it is eventually what lead us to getting this win.” Stated Steve Melton.
The entire day of racing was fast and fun for all the drivers and the Banning team. We cannot win them all but we make sure to have fun while doing it and that is just what we did.
Banning Motorsports would like to thank all of their sponsors and supporters for their dedication and help in the success of Banning Motorsports.