A Relentless Pace For Jeepspeed Racer Skyler Gambrell Tops Hard Chargers At Silver State 300
The General Tire ATX Wheels Jeepspeed series took on one of the most popular race courses of the series at the Best in the Desert Silver State 300. A packed field of Jeepspeed Challenge (1700) and Jeepspeed Cup (3700) racers showed up to take on a course that has a bit of everything; twisty trails that cling to the side of mountains, long fast straight-a-ways, epic scenery and the rocks, ruts and deep silt that Northern Nevada is known for. From the valley floors to the high summits, Jeepspeed racers got a little taste of everything. The scenery is fantastic but this race was no vacation for anyone.
Jeepspeed Challenge winner Skyler Gambrell relied on his crew and a relentless pace in his Grand Cherokee to beat a faster but problem plagued George Mortis who was also driving a Grand Cherokee. “My new ATK motor was running strong, but with the increased power I fought a bit of heat issues and had to back off the throttle to keep it cool,” said Gambrell, “We had a fairly uneventful race to Pit 3 where the crew of Russ, Wayne and Dillon fueled me and sent me on my way. I was surprised to be in 2nd; only a minute away from the physical lead. Midway to pit 4 my temps got uncomfortably warm. I was creeping along at maybe 20mph when the taillights of 1724 Rob Seubert slowly started backing into me up the sand wash. I figured he was battling high temps too. I was able to creep past at a blistering 15mph pace and crest the steep sand wash while modulating the temps back to a manageable state.”
The course has miles of loose dirt that gets churned up by the unlimited cars and trucks that leave the line ahead of the Jeepspeed classes. “Knowing I had started at the rear of the field, I ran a slow but steady pace relying on my chase crew to give me split times on anybody coming from behind. Leaving Pit 5, the steering was getting rather loose and something in the rear end was getting sloppy too. It caused me, who was also tired and rather sloppy, to drive at a snail’s pace over the mountains to Pit 6. The crew took a long look at the car and nothing was hanging by a thread so I took off upping my pace a little; just wanting to get to the finish. I Fought through all the tough silt beds with no issues and stopped at the final pit for a safety splash of fuel knowing I had at least a half hour in the bag. I got to the finish in a little over 7.5 hours, never got out of the car, no flats or anything. All in all a very uneventful day of racing for the driver. I definitely wasn’t the fastest car on course with a top speed of only about 75 but I never stopped moving forward all day. It paid dividends in the end.”
Second place in 1700 was George Mortis. He had a fast truck but was plagued by issues that caused him to climb to the front of the running order then fall back several times throughout the day. He probably occupied every position in the field at one time or another. “We definitely had a blue collar effort,” said Mortis, “We had to get out of the truck six times. The dust was thick in the morning and driving into the sun in the afternoon was miserable. I smacked a boulder early that flattened a tire. The whole field must have gone by. There was lots of climbing on the course and most of it was loose. We had some overheating issues and broke a transmission mount that Baja Pits welded for us. At one point we had to drive over a steep hill and then backtrack to get back on course. The silt really slowed us down. We had to get pulled out after getting stuck but even worse, the silt was getting packed into the beadlocks causing the tires to slowly lose air pressure. I have to give credit to my co-driver Rob Renker. He made a good truck great. He was exhausted after the race; I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Third place Rick Randall’s Jeep was running hot like many others. He had to pull over to let it cool down allowing a pair of other trucks to get by. “We started 5th and by mile marker 20 we were the first 1700 on the road,” said Rick, “We passed one of the jeeps that got around us and closed in on another. I backed off a little when we headed into a deep silt bed but got stuck on the berm. It took us 45 minutes to dig ourselves out. We stopped to change a tire and noticed that we lost our jack. We limped along until we came across a broken down truck that had a jack for us to borrow. Five miles from the finish the motor died; the filter was so packed with silt the engine could not run. We took the filter out and beat on it until most of the silt came out. I can’t believe we took third after all that!” Eric Heiden just missed the podium finishing behind Rick Randall in fourth place.
In Jeepspeed Cup competition, 3700 class winner Brian Davidson had no better inspiration than his co-rider for the race, 16 year old Paige Ellens. Paige was born with Cystic Fibrosis. The disease affects here lungs and pancreas. Despite the medical treatments and regimen of medications she takes, Paige leads a very active life. The honor student plays goalie on her school’s soccer team, performed in her high school production of Phantom of the Opera and is active in her church youth group. “I am very blessed to be asked to co-pilot in this race,” said Paige, “Life isn't always easy but it is always good and blessings can be found in any situation.” Brian will probably want Paige in the Jeep more often. They finished nearly three hours ahead of second place Jeepspeed Cup finisher Billy Bunch.
“We got our JK ready, but had no time to test, so we decided last minute to run the 1700 car in 3700,” says Brian, We were still in the points hunt and had a better chance getting a finish in a tested car. We developed an engine knock, and lost oil pressure. We developed a vibration over 60mph so we were limited to about four thousand rpm’s and 60 mph. A mile or two out of pit 3, I went through a cattle guard way to hot and hit big dips on the other side. I think the whole car must have been 6 or 7 feet off the ground but somehow landed and stayed upright. Tom Barnett had just jumped in the car, and I'm pretty sure he wanted to get back out again. We managed to keep up with Bunch the whole race, but didn't have the power to get around. We hoped to finish on his tail and win on corrected time. Finally, about 200 miles in we got around him. When we stopped to pit, he got out of the pit just ahead of us so we were eating his dust again. Eventually, Bunch pulled over with an issue. The vibration and the short shifting cost us a little time, but no complaints. After 11 starts and 7 dnf's, it was great to get a win!” Billy Bunch got their problem fixed to finish second place with Rob White filling out the podium in third.
With the Silver State 300 in the rear view mirror, the Jeepspeed competitors will be gearing up for the longest race of the season Vegas to Reno (V2R). The generous support offered by General Tire. ATX Wheels Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, Howe Performance, T&J Performance, Baja Designs, Rubicon Express Suspensions, Smittybilt Off Road products, G2 Axle & Gear, Oakley and PAC Racing Springs will be put to good use when the competitors battle for 540 more miles of the toughest Northern Nevada terrain. The Silver State 300 will seem like a warm-up compared to what lies ahead at V2R!
Remember, No other spec class allows you to design and build your own vehicle for desert competition. If you would like to find out how to compete in the Jeepspeed series go to www.jeepspeed.com. There you will find additional info, deals on some attractively priced race Jeeps, Jeepspeed news, rules, forums, race results, videos and much more.
Jeepspeed Challenge Results
1. 1707 Skyler Gambrell
2. 1721 George Mortis
3. 1710 Rick Randell
4. 1717 Eric Heiden
5. 1720 Frank Leyendekker
6. 1730 Mike Bragg
7. 1786 John Brannon
Jeepspeed Cup Results
1. 3718 Brian Davidson
2. 3799 Billy Bunch
3. 3798 Rob White
4. 3704 Bob Mamer
Photography By: Crene Studios / Bink Designs
The Jeepspeed series is a competitive, cost effective series that has pitted Jeep vehicles against each other on challenging desert courses since 2001. Unlike the more expensive spec racing classes, there is no obligation to purchase your race vehicle or parts from the series organizer. You build your own vehicle the way you like as long as it fits within the rules. Jeepspeed offers the most fun and closest racing in the desert today. Jeepspeed series is supported by General Tire, ATX Wheels, RDM Offroad, Howe Performance, Currie Enterprises, King Shocks, TJ Performance Center, Allpar.com, Sunoco Race Fuels, Baja Designs, Rubicon Express, G2 Axle & Gear, Smittybilt & PAC Racing Springs.
About General Tire
For 99 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs. General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, Best in the Desert Racing Series, Major League Fishing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late-Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, American Sprint Car Series, FreestyleMx.com
Tour, Zero One Odyssey, and Spec Tire of Trophylite and JeepSpeed. Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including CJ Hutchins, Garrick Freitas, Harley Letner, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell/Jerry Whelchel/ (Camburg), Jim Riley, Justin Lofton, Macrae Glass, Randy Merritt, Ray Griffith, Steve Alexander, Steve La Roza, Ryan Beat, Carl Renezeder, and Robby Woods.
About Continental AG
With provisional sales of around €33.3 billion in 2013, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has more than 177,000 employees in 46 countries.