Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dead last in the desert, and proud of it

532 miles of driving in Nevada

Paul Robinson Photo by Willy Cook

     Dead last in the desert but exhilarated by the 532-mile ride, Wood River Valley off-road driver Paul Robinson of 9 Lives Off-Road Racing was proud to finish the longest and only point-to-point off-road race in the U.S. on Friday, Aug. 15.

     It was the General Tire “Best in the Desert” 532-miler in the challenging dust and rocks of the off-road prairie from the Las Vegas area to Reno, Nev.

     Robinson, 56, was a hired driver for owner Michael Benedict’s custom car in the Class 1100 Pro Limited Desert Buggy class, No. 1115.

     He drove two shifts for a total of 13 hours in the Desert Runners Racing Team vehicle that unofficially placed 114th of 114 cars and trucks in 22 hours, 26 minutes and 55 seconds.

     The team of Robinson, 47-year-old Benedict of Las Vegas, 20-year-old Wade Ridings of Nellis Air Force Base and 33-year-old Kyle Oliver of Las Vegas had all kinds of problems but still managed to finish.

     Robinson said, “It was a long fought battle against the Nevada desert. We unofficially finished third in Class 1100, 114th overall with a time of 22 hours, 26 minutes and 55 seconds.

     “We were the last RUNNING car over the finish line!

     “We had three flats (not on my watch), were stuck twice (not on my watch), had alternator problems with five shredded fan belts and also had ignition issues.

     “We faced stupid silt beds, rocks and more rocks, mud, water, deep water, darkness, long repairs in the darkness, more stupid silt bets, rattlesnakes and lost chase trucks around Area 51! Go figure!”

     “But I’m super proud of the Desert Runners Racing Team and proud to be driving for such a stubborn team. None of the others ever gave up, so I kept going, too. When the other teams were loading their rigs on their trailers with half the problems we had, we forged on.

     Robinson’s vehicle struggled with alternator problems in the final 50 miles and ended up with a shredded belt with just 20 miles remaining.

     He said, “A bad pulley on the alternator left us running but dead in the water. We were out of options with no more belts and only one Class 8100 truck on course, 10 miles behind us. Our only hope for a finish was a tow by them, which they don’t have to do.

     “But they did! We unhooked just before the finish line, started her up, and coasted down through the finish. And none of us can wait to try our luck again—which makes us either tough as nails or dumb as a box or rocks, or both.”

     Qualifying leader and No. 1 starter Jason Voss, 27, of Cupertino, Ca. won the race in his Ford in an unofficial 8.29:28.

     Robinson said, “Thanks to all my sponsors here, to all the guys and gals at Desert Runners Racing and to Michael Benedict the owner for trusting me to drive his race car.”



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