2020 BITD Tensor Tire Parker 250
Carnage Ensues As Blurton Takes The Win!
Story By: Mike Ingalsbee
Photos By: Brandon Bunch
Phil Blurton, and his partner in crime co-driver Beau Judge have a strategy that’s hard to beat. They prep their car to perfection, and then go run a pace that pounds everyone else into submission. At the first race of the season in the Best in the Desert series, the 2020 BITD Tensor Tire Parker 250, Blurton, and Judge ran their usual race. This time though, they almost beat themselves. I think they’ve finally found a pace that’s even tougher than steel. After a blistering first lap that put them in the lead, they broke a radius arm that caused Judge to get out of the car and go to work. He commented that it’s been a long time since he’s had to jump out and make repairs. Unfortunately for the competition, even a broken suspension part was not enough to slow their pace. They didn’t walk away with it, but they held on for the victory by enough seconds to count.
Only seconds behind was Austin Weiland which gave Can Am a 1-2 finish. Weiland ran the proverbial smart race, and it paid off with a second place podium. He said he ran his own pace, and had zero problems. If only he was 10 seconds faster he would have won, but pondering such things as that in racing leads to insanity; there are way too many variables at play. Weiland stands out as an anomaly because so many fast teams suffered mechanical breakage due to the challenge that the course in Parker poses. The deep, heavy sand is notorious for braking axles, frying belts, and cooking engines. The rocks are relentless, and the dust can be blinding. Weiland admitted that it was hard to see into the setting sun as the wind died down on lap 3.
The old saying goes that chrome don’t get you home, but it seemed to work fine for Jake Carver. Carver always has one of the nicest looking liveries out there, and his new for 2020 scheme has chrome looking accents on both sides. Jake’s chrome brought him home in third place in the Turbo class. At one point, he thought he had a flat tire out on the course; the rear end felt squirrelly, but it turned out to be a broken axle shaft. Broken parts also hampered the Murray Brothers who led at one point, but as Jason tells it they got a flat tire, then broke a front hub, and finally a broken axle. It was very hard to limp in on one wheel drive as the other cars caught and passed them. They finished 5th place behind Randy Romo, Larry Heidler, and Brian Sallee. Randy is no stranger to UTV racing, having competed for years, and Brian Sallee is the father of “Little Ripper” Travis Sallee. Brian’s racing career includes time spent racing Trophy Trucks in Baja.
Other typically tough teams suffered equal amounts of mechanical mayhem, most of it suspension, and axle breakage. The Parker course is just so hard on parts, there’s not much you can do to avoid it other than to drive slow, and the competition won’t allow that. Justin Lambert had issues, Dustin Jones had difficulties. Matt Burroughs was just off an impressive podium finish at a brutally tough Baja 1000. He made it to the finish, but had some breakage that cost him down time. He says that the sand washes get chopped up with square edged bumps. They hit those bumps flat out, and it pounds the cars; sending huge shock loads through the entire drive line.
There was a rolled over car on a single lane section of the course that created a log jam as the NA cars came around on lap one. Some cars got by, but others were held until the course was cleared. BITD officials set them off again at 30 second intervals. It must be a challenging task for timing, and scoring to keep everything straight.
Regardless of the timing challenges, Kaden Wells added another win to his resume. He edged out Joe Bolton by a couple minutes to take the victory. Wells and Bolton are both Polaris racers so they brought home a 1-2 finish to match Can Am’s in the turbo class. Max, and Robby Gordon had a strong run to finish on the podium in 3rd place. I asked Max how he felt the day before the race, and he said that he knows the dirt well; Parker is his back yard.
The unlimited class win goes to the defending champ Michael Isom. Isom was very fast in his No Limit Engineering Can Am finishing 8th place overall. The unlimited field in Parker was stout with nearly twenty cars taking the start. It looks like UTV racing is continuing to grow. This year’s field set an attendance record with 310 entries.
The first race of the season typically has everyone showing up with their best. They’ve had some time to catch up on maintenance, or make changes based on what they learned last season. The goal is to get as many points right out of the gate, and to show the competition that they have it all figured out. After this Parker 250 though, there might be several teams that are leaving with more questions than answers.