This years Best In The Desert Silver State 300 took place just North of Las Vegas, NV. The 300-mile course was full of fast rally style roads, towering trees and silt over 3ft deep. The 3 race cars of Banning Motorsports didn’t let the elements and race gremlins get the best of them as all 3 cars finished in top spots.
Steve Melton was behind the wheel in the #1178 Banning Motorsports car and a smooth start to the race would see them gaining positions on the class leader. Just after pit 1, Melton would take over the class lead and pass the car to son, Hayden Melton with a large lead.
Hayden continued moving up through class 10 cars but it would be at race mile 178 where Hayden would slid off the side of a mountain and get the car stuck. Co-rider, Ryan Marley assessed the situation and got the car out of the bad situation and back on the road. Losing two positions while being stuck didn’t deter the team from continuing on. At pit 6 they passed a class 11 car that was getting fixed and never looked back, driving the car to a 2nd place finish.
EcoBoost is Ford Motor Company’s top sub-brand. As significant as VTEC was for Honda in the 90’s, EcoBoost is poised to do even more for Ford Motor Company. This marks the first time a major auto company leveraged the identity of a turbocharged engine in such a strategic and effective way. EcoBoost improves fuel economy by as much as 20 percent but costs far less than the several thousand dollar increase hybrids and diesels demand. Merging split personalities ‘Eco’-friendly and turbo-‘Boost’, EcoBoost engines offer a unique combination of torque, horsepower, fuel economy, performance, utility, durability and reliability. Launched in 2011 to international acclaim, these highly refined small displacement turbocharged *ECO*boost engines have fuel efficiency MPG gains while cruising around town or at light throttle on a highway – but when pulling a load up a steep hill or stomping on the gas pedal eco*BOOST* engines spool the turbo instantly with powerful torque for controlled acceleration with unrivaled towing capacity.
“Banning Motorsports is very proud to have the opportunity to work with Ford and Ford Racing. We are helping to show the durability and dependability of the EcoBoost platform to the world and off-road community in the most grueling environment any where.” Stated Lee Banning.
Banning Motorports debuted the Ford EcoBoost in their 1500 car at the Mint 400 and with minor changes before the Silver State 300, they were looking forward to see the outcome of the #1588 Unlimited car and the results it would produce with the changes. Bryan Folks and co-rider Bradley Mcfarlin started the race in 28th and before handing the car over at pit 5, he would make up valuable positions.
“This 4-cylinder EcoBoost motor proved to be an advantage in the tight and twisty mountain terrain. The suspension changes we made as well proved to be just what we needed. The car ran great for us in the first half of the race.” Stated Folks
Folks passed the driving duties to Rick Graff and co-rider, Tim Sullivan at Pit 5 and the team was quickly back on course. Between Pit 5 and Pit 6 a minor oil leak presented itself and after resolving the issue in pit 6 the team continued the race. A quick air filter change at pit 7 and no flats would help Graff bring the car into the finish with a 10th place finish in the 1500 class.
Team owner, Lee Banning Sr. started off the race in his #1023 car and with a 3rd starting position, this put them right where they needed to be to stay clear of major dust. With a more technical course after pit 3, Banning Sr. experienced more rocks and silt that the bigger race vehicles left behind. A clean first half of the race and no flats was just what they needed when they handed the car over to Gary Williams Jr. at pit 4.
Williams pushed the car hard for his first 50 miles and after attempting to make a pass on a 6100 truck, they veered off course and hit rough terrain causing the GPS to malfunction. Co-Rider Chris Godfrey managed to call out the course based off memory for Williams and throughout the dust, the team managed to pass 2 class 10 cars and were working their way up to 3rd on the road in their class. Continuing their hard push to the front, Williams would miss a turn and took the car out into trees. Godfrey worked hard to get the car out of trouble, but not quick enough and they were passed back by the two class 10 cars. The #1023 team brought the car across the finish for a solid 5th place. The #1023 car will maintain their 3rd place position in points.
Despite minor throwbacks in the race, Banning Motorsports pushed all their cars to their limits and finished the race with no flats on their General Tires. They have a pristine set up and are looking forward to the next race in the series, Vegas To Reno, where they will fight for those points and class wins.
Lee Banning Sr. would like to thank the entire Banning Motorsports crew, volunteers and sponsors for another successful race weekend. Banning Motorsports would also like to thank Cliff Irey from Ford for his dedication to the team and they wish him luck and success in his new venture.