2020 BITD King Shock Desert Classic
The Baja Designs Night Race Pushed Drivers Harder Than Ever!
Photos By: Bink Designs
Best in the Desert had a cruel surprise for UTV racers at the Laughlin Desert Classic(LDC). The race has been run at night now for a couple of years, and if driving in the dark wasn’t brutal enough, this time, they would run the course in the opposite direction. It’s a well-known fact that cars tear up the dirt while they are racing. Hard braking causes stutter bumps to form, and the same is true about acceleration. The bumps tend to be smooth and rounded on one side, and sharp and square-edged on the other. When you run opposite to the usual direction, instead of hitting bumps, it’s like hitting curbs. The LDC is always a tough race due to the multiple laps run at a feverish pace, but running the other way turned it into a meat grinder.
Racers were met with a dilemma—run at your usual pace, and survive the attrition, or run fast enough to break the competition. Running in the dark just adds to the confusion. You can only see where your lights are shining. There is no sneaking a peek across the desert to gauge where your competition is. With a few exceptions, every UTV looks the same in the rearview mirror—blinding lights dancing up and down, sometimes while bearing down on you. Is it your arch-rival, or someone in a different class you should just let go? Lapped traffic, and dust were also major factors. Those who fought to the front earned every foot of track position along the way.
The production, sportsman/rally, and RS1 cars ran first, staging at 6:00 p.m. They would get the worst of the hard edges, but there was still plenty left for the turbo and unlimited cars that ran the second race at 10:00 p.m. Cars left the line 3 at a time. Many of those packs stayed glued to each other’s bumpers for several laps. It would seem that starting in the back was a death sentence, but several drivers had the pace and the skills to end up on the podium. In the Pro Production class, Eric Brisco started 3rd and finished 3rd. Seth Quintero started 7th and climbed up to 2nd place. Amazingly, Kolton Hustead started back in the 17th position and ran a blistering pace to capture the win. In the Unlimited class, Michael Isom started 1st and checked out. He won by about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Gilberto Rodriguez took 2nd over the 3rd place racer Tadamitsu Niihori by less than a minute.
In the turbo class, the same pattern emerged. Phil Blurton started on the pole and ended up 2nd. Mitch Guthrie Jr. left the line 6th but refused to lose. He outpaced everyone for the win. He was chasing Blurton until the final lap. That last lap Guthrie Jr. caught and passed him, but Blurton passed him back. Mitch finally got around and held onto the lead for good, winning by 20 seconds. Ryan Piplic was in a new car with little test time. He started back in the 13th spot but found his way through what seemed like endless cars to get the final spot on the podium. He said it was the roughest Laughlin race he’d ever seen, and it seemed like he passed 100 cars. Whether they crushed the competition, hung on for dear life, or flew through the pack to take a podium, everyone had the scars to show for it after the race. The Laughlin Desert Classic was another showcase for the best racers in the world.