Eduardo Laguna Takes First in Class at Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno
Dougans Racing Engines Consistent at the Longest Off-Road Race in the United States
Promoted as the longest off-road race in United States, Best in the Desert’s 545 mile trek from Las Vegas to Reno has a wide variety of terrain from rough rocky areas to flat dry lake beds to some of the deepest silt beds in stateside racing. The weather that pounded the Silver State for weeks leading up to race only made things more difficult for the 330+ race teams that showed up to take on the brutal terrain. Dougans Racing Engines fielded fourteen racers all fully capable of walking away with the overall. At the finish line in Reno, it was #1537 Eduardo Laguna who was the first Class 1500 to cross the line, earning the win in Class 1500 and a 4th place overall finish.
Laguna was third fastest in the Time Trials event held in Jean, NV. The wicked fast track enabled speeds in excess of 100mph. Laguna averaged a speed of 87.79mph on his way to a third place qualifying time behind Dougans racer, Justin Lofton, with a time +00:00:03.493 off the top qualifier Bryce Menzies’ time of 00:03:00.937.
Often times, starting in the front can be a burden, as you are exposed to the rocks, deep rain roots and all the other hazards on the race course. Despite earning the second starting position in Time Trials, Justin Lofton immediately dropped back a few spots after an early flat. At times, Dougans Racing Engines pushed Lofton’s #41 “Badco” JIMCO Trick Truck to speeds topping out at 144mph. “If I didn’t have to turn, we would have kept going,” later stated Lofton.
Suffering a total of eight flat tires, Lofton was never able to find his rhythm and finished +00:53:34 off the winning pace. Despite the unusual amount of flats, Lofton was able to salvage a 9th place overall finish.
Laguna’s day was not flawless. The class win had to be earned from ten minutes back at times. The first half of the race, Laguna sat patiently allowing the race to unfold while he drove the #1537 within striking distance. Race mile 300 was the turning point in Laguna’s race. At this time, he was just under ten minutes behind class leader, Cody Parkhouse. In the next 100 miles, Laguna closed that gap to +00:01:16 and forced the leaders to push their comfort zones. Applying this pressure while keeping his composure, Laguna was first class 1500 to the finish line and earned himself a 4th place overall finish.
“I want to dedicate this race to our friend, Jose Carlos Durazo Bugarin. Race in peace, professor,” stated Laguna later on his Facebook page.
Steve Olliges shared driving duties with John Marking in the Ford/Fox/BFGoodrich #27 Geiser Trick Truck. Olliges started the race in in the middle of the unlimited pack after a 30th place qualifying time. Olliges quickly powered his way to 17th on corrected time after the first hundred miles and continued to make strides towards the front. At the halfway point, Olliges was +00:23:08 off Jason Voss’ leading time. Marking drove the truck to the finish 8th overall and earned Dougans racing a third top ten finish.
#58 Tracy Graf flew out of the gate with a promising start. 100 miles in to the race, Graf was +00:01:27 off Jason Voss’ leading pace. He remained second on corrected time at race mile 200 but began to fade in the second half of the race. Graf finished the race in +01:00:19 off the winners time in 11th place overall.
After missing the SCORE Baja 500 in June to make massive changes and test the #16 Trick Truck, Cameron Steele came to Vegas to Reno for a podium. Anything less would be a failure in his eyes. The Desert Assassins crew risked a lot with the changes but proved its worth after a 9th place qualifying run. Steele made fourteen stops in the race, plus a few stops to protect some bikes from a truck charging behind him that he had passed. Steele finished 14th overall and one thing is certain, it’s all or nothing for Steele.
“To say that 7th across and 11th on time is a huge let down would be a massive understatement. We came for a podium and anything less is a failure to me. We’ll be ready for Baja. Never surrender,” said Steele.
Among the other finishers for Dougans Racing Engines were #62 Ryan Poelman, #95 Scott Whipple and #4 Justin Matney. Matney debuted his new four wheel drive Geiser truck that definitely turned some heads at Tech & Contingency in Las Vegas. The first time Matney drove the #4 was off the trailer to staging for Time Trials. Matney qualified 41st out of fifty three qualifiers and wheeled his way to a 17th place finish on race day.
#34 Ken Losch was the final finisher for Dougans, crossing the finish line in 24th place overall +01:40:24 behind winner, Jason Voss.
The remaining six Dougans racers that started Vegas to Reno, #10 Greg Nunley, #11 Carlos Apdaly Lopez, #37 Jerry Welchel, #5 Clyde Stacey, #59 Craig Potts and #98 Gary Weyhrich, succumbed to the brutal Nevada course but will be back to charge the SCORE Imperial Valley 250 September 23rd – 27th in El Centro, CA.
Dougans Racers 2015 Vegas to Reno Results
4. Eduardo Laguna – 09:28:31
9. Justin Lofton – 09:46:06
8. Steve Olliges – 09:44:52
11. Tracy Graf – 09:52:51
14. Cameron Steele – 09:55:43
17. Ryan Poelman – 10:09:48
20. Scott Whipple – 10:13:15
23. Justin Matney – 10:27:46
24. Ken Losch – 10:32:56