2019 Laughlin Desert Classic
Some Got Dusted And Others Blown Away At BITD Season Ender
The Method Race Wheels Laughlin Desert Classic is a unique race. The final race of the Best in the Desert series, it would have a huge impact on the final points chase. Not only is it a multi-lap race on a short desert course, but it’s also a night race. It throws a lot of variables at the drivers. With so many cars on the course, real estate is scarce, and dust in the darkness is always a factor. Everyone prays for wind, but they got more than they bargained for. The wind was a constant 30 miles per hour with gusts to 50. When it gets that windy, it creates its own dust, but that was just the beginning. Multiple laps at such a fast pace wreaks havoc on the course. It doesn’t take long to become a merciless meat grinder. The gruesome combination turned many dreams to dust, and several favorites got blown away.
First to run on course where the naturally aspirated cars. Seth Quintero was chasing a perfect season. He had won every race this season; the tension must have been unbearable. At the drop of the green flag Quintero came charging out of the pack with the hole shot. It’s amazing that Seth is only 17 years old, and does all his own prep on the car. After a couple laps it was Quintero, Kolton Hustead, and Adrian Orellana running out front. As the laps went by, Hustead was on Quintero’s bumper, and Orellana had dropped back due to a belt change. The two out front went back and forth until Quintero suffered a broken bolt in his front suspension. Hustead took the lead, but soon pulled off with his own issue. Orellana was on a mission after stopping for repairs, and crossed the line minutes ahead of second place. Quietly but surely Madeline Wedeking (also 17 years old) crossed the finish line in second. Third place went to Joe Bolton who edged out Corbin Wells. Quintero was eloquent in his post-race interview. He missed his goal of a perfect season, but was proud of his championship, and vowed to defend his title next season.
With the course nice and broken in, the turbo cars were lined up and waiting to go. The field was filled with heavy hitters; many with multiple wins in Laughlin. At the start of the race the field got a familiar and disheartening view of the back of Phil Blurton’s car, and he was flying. That usually means game over, especially in Laughlin, however Blurton suffered a rare but fatal blow as his car was getting an over boost signal, but with no boost. He was in limp mode before he got to the first road crossing.
As the race settled in it was the Murray Brothers out front (Jason behind the wheel, and Derek riding shotgun), followed by Austin Weiland, Dustin Jones, and Mitch Guthrie in that order, but not for long. Guthrie was charging. He got around Jones, and set his sights on the lead. With 2 laps to go the order was Guthrie, Weiland, and Murray in third. After starting 10th, Mitch Guthrie ran a pace that nobody could match; taking the win. Also coming from back in the pack (18th), Brandon Sims put on his own charge to finish second. He praised his Baja Designs lights; saying he could see forever. Third place belonged to Jason Murray who admitted to hanging on with a brake issue. He was hoping the podium finish was enough to take the championship. “If I finish second place again by one point, I’m going to be pissed” he said. It may be that close. Blurton said that he was leading the points coming in, but might not even finish on the championship podium after his disappointing results.
Laughlin proved once again that you never know what will happen whenever the competition lines up to race on this unique course. It was the perfect season ending race if you like intense competition, challenging conditions, and heart breaking consequences. Seth Quintero wrapped up his first NA championship, but the turbo class is not as clear. With that in mind, it’s still not over. We’ll have to wait for the number crunchers to weigh in.