COLORADO SPRINGS, CO FEB 15, 2011 – After months of anticipation the Baja 1000 of the rockcrawling world went down in grand fashion. A race as wild as King of the Hammers can yield triumph or heartbreak but like most epic races grand adventure is guaranteed.
The Lovell Racing crew showed up on Means Dry Lakebed with the best equipment, personnel, and strategy. As soon as the pre-run file was available, the team took to the desert to explore the brutal terrain. Bugs were quickly worked out of the race trucks and everything went relatively smoothly until a vicious wind storm blew the team tent away scattering tools and parts. Luckily, nobody was injured, the pit was reorganized, and pre-running continued for the next 2 days.
By the start of the race, the brothers had driven the entire course and surveyed most areas twice. The GPS’s contained a library of notes and AMSOIL rock racers were in top order. Everything was prepared, fine tuned, and ready for battle.
#232 Brad Lovell / Joachim Schwiesow started the race 7th with a fast pace. The morning desert air was frigid and Brad battled numbness in his fingers. Extremely dry conditions and light wind led to hovering dust clouds and unseen dangers marked every mile. As the #232 AMSOIL team reached the roughest of the rock trails (Outer Limits), they had climbed to 4th. Once free of the rocks they made the call to bypass Pit #1. As soon as the call went out, a loud bang erupted from the drivetrain and the truck was dead in the water. The transmission output shaft had sheared. With hopes of a win gone, Lovell and Schwiesow started dismantling the truck and a new transmission was sent from the main pit. #4432 Lovell / Ashley soon crested the hill and gave them a much appreciated tow into pit #1.
The Lovell pit crew did an amazing job and completed an 8 hour transmission change in only 1 hour and 15 minutes. “The camaraderie of rock racing is amazing,” recalled Brad, “Everyone around us pitched in – Torchmate, 4 Wheel Parts, 667 Rockers, RJ Brown, and our crew did an amazing job and we got out of the pit still in the top half of the pack.” En route once more, the pair faced heartbreak as the front differential gradually chewed itself to chards leaving #232 with no front drive and miles from assistance. Unable to continue, they were forced to throw in the towel. “In 8 years, we have never lost an output shaft or differential. In the months leading up to the race we rebuilt and inspected every part of the vehicle and there were no signs of faulty parts. It is very discouraging to lose this way.”
The red AMSOIL clad rock racer of Roger Lovell & Dallas Ashley ran strong all day and after towing their teammates to the pit passed enough racers to regain their original starting position of 9th. With a strong pace, #4432 completed lap #1 with no problems and made quick work of the huge rock climb on Backdoor. Disaster struck near race mile 83 as the truck took a tumble and ended up resting on the driver’s side. Undeterred, the pair managed to winch the vehicle upright and lost only one position. With 15 miles to go, progress was badly hampered when extreme heat caused the truck to vapor lock. Without a functional engine, the pair could only watch as an onslaught of racers passed by. After repairs were made, Lovell & Ashley made up enough ground to finish the race in 15th position and automatically qualify for the 2012 race. 47 of 100 entrants finished the race.
“I am really happy to show these guys that we are competitive,” Roger concludes, “A couple small problems delayed us but overall the truck is solid. The new 39” BFG’s made all the difference. It feels like a new truck in the rocks. I really want to thank my co-driver Dallas and everyone else who came out to support our team. I wish Brad could have finished and we’ll do whatever is needed to weed out the mechanical problems he had.”
In addition to the team’s loyal sponsors, Brad & Roger would like to thank the following individuals and organization for support during King of the Hammers:
Joachim Schwiesow, Dallas Ashley, Ron Stobaugh, Austin Stobaugh,
Jim Ginn, Parker Ginn, Shannon Boothe, Baja Racing Texas,
Jordan Stemas, Jeff Stemas, Zach Stemas, Jud Leslie,
Rennie Leslie, Ryan Filar, Eric Filar, Jeff Belknap,
Dwayne Clewell, Ralf Kueller, RJ Brown, 667 Rockers,
Torchmate remote pit, Steve Hansen, Chad Jock, Totally Off-Road Radio