We knew going into 2022 that this year’s Baja Nevada event needed to be pretty special because the 2021 Baja Nevada was a two day adventure that was talked about for months leading up to and months after the event was over. We decided to change up the format and go from two days to one, changed the Start location and were able to bring back some old race courses that haven’t been used in over a decade.
We were privileged to have Vision Wheel join us as a partner for this event. Vision has been in business for over 40 years now and customers have come to expect the best. They look beyond the current trends and to the future in developing, manufacturing and distributing wheels that set future trends. Vision Wheel has an extensive line of athletes that compete in off-road racing. Here is what Vision Wheel had to say about the event: “We were very excited to be a part of the Vision Wheel Baja Nevada event. We feel that this event will become one of the marquee events in the future for desert racing and what an accomplishment it is for teams to finish an event 650 miles long. Congrats to Legacy Racing for putting on such a unique event and each and every one of the finishers who completed the adventure.” Jim Beaver – Vision Wheel Brand Manager
Qualifying started the event off with the weather on our side. Clouds covered the sky and rain made for a beautiful afternoon. The course was unlike any other course the racers had seen. This course was tight and technical and the fastest times were not the average 3 to 5 minutes, they were 9 minutes and above. The start line was a steep uphill and just a preview of what terrain lay ahead. One Racer remarked that it was the craziest but most fun they ever had on a qualifying course with giggling and pucker factor moments happening simultaneously. One second we were cruising along and the next our nose was in the air going vertical up the side of a rock mountain.
The Stronghold Engineering Unlimited Qualifying was once again dominated by #1 Eric Hustead. In his 4 wheel drive truck, he was on a mission to continue his winning streak taking the Fastest Qualifier at every Legacy event thus far, this event makes 6 out of 6.
The 6100s had their chance to compete for the Diamondback Materials Fastest 6100 Qualifier. With a stacked field, the 6100’s had the most entries within a single class. The competition was intense with this group of racers and the bragging rights, well they are almost more important than the start position itself. 6173 Conner McMullen, making the recent transition from open wheels to fenders, secured his 1st Fastest 6100 Qualifier in his new Brenthel Industries truck.
Thursday brought Tech and Contingency and another exciting Vendor Row Quick Draw. The prize for this event was a handheld radio donated by Rugged Radio, the Official Communications of Legacy Racing. The fun began at our Motorsports Safety Solutions Booth. Hoping to bring awareness to everything our Safety team does for the sport, this was the perfect starting point. Next came our 5 vendor stops. Event Partner, Vision Wheel was excited to be a part of the new and exciting Vendor Row Quick Draw. Liqui Moly and Rugged Radios jumped onboard again as they saw this was a great way to get foot traffic to their displays. Including our partner Vision Canopy was a no brainer and Vision X Lights took the 5th stop. After stopping at each booth everyone would finish at the TrophyLites Booth for the chance to win the Rugged Radio Handheld Radio. The winner was Sam Arnst who was with a TrophyLite team that came from Connecticut. With Sam’s new handheld Rugged Radio and Liqui Moly swag, he was ready to help chase his team to the finish line.
As the SeeDevil lights lit up the night, the Motorcycles and Quads geared up for the Green Light at 4 am Friday morning. The stars were bright in the sky as they took to the Vision Wheel Baja Nevada 636 mile course, hours before the sun would rise. With the safety of all participants as a major factor, we decided to give them a huge head start on the Car/Truck UTV classes which proved to work in everyone’s favor. Not a single Motorcycle or Quad was caught by the Car/Truck, UTV classes .
95X Taylor Stevens was first off the line. He was nervous about being the first one on course and the pitch black desert didn’t help his nerves. He asked to take a look at the course map one last time before starting. 1X Danny Cooper’s team started with retired factory rider David Pearson. Pearson came out of retirement to help Danny by replacing his injured cousin Axel. Pearson joked with Stevens and told him that he was leading the way and they would all be following his tracks so as not to get lost. Being first off the line has its advantages of clean air but also the disadvantage of not having anyone’s tracks to follow. At Pit 3 Taylor jumped off the bike and his partner Wyatt Brittner jumped on, still in the lead. As 1X switched riders to Tuffy Pearson, they were trying to make up some ground on 95X. But before they could make the pass, the 95X crashed just before Pit 4. Seeing the downed rider, 1X showed true sportsmanship by rendering help, making sure officials and medical staff were alerted and waiting until help had arrived before continuing on. After getting their injured rider taken care of, the 95X would continue on with Taylor Stevens and Brian Whiteside wanting to finish for their injured teammate. The 95X was able to get to the finish line taking 2nd Open Pro and 2nd Overall motorcycle.
The 1Xe Team of Danny Cooper, David Pearson and Tuffy Pearson charged ahead, keeping the lead and taking home 1st Open Pro and 1st Overall motorcycle. 61X Eric Holt, Tyler Harvey and Marlo Carducci pushed themselves and their 61X bike to its limits. Being chased down by the livestream helicopter 61X rider Carducci brought the bike in for a 3rd place Open Pro finish.
In the old man Over 40 Pro class, 9K battled it out with 69K. 9K Chris Fry, Jason Trubey, and Nacoma McCormick got out front and kept a good pace all day, bringing home the win in the Over 40 Pro. 69K Brett Steven, Robert Church, Jeff Hughes and Rich Nelson switched riders at every pit to give each rider time on the motorcycle. During one of his sections on the bike, Rich lost the seat and had to carry it in his backpack to the next pit where they duct taped it back on. They brought home 2nd Over 40 Pro trophies.
In the Open Expert class 106 Brett Aguilera and Travis Wells would team up. After a flawless day at the track, they would take home 1st in class and 6th Overall motorcycle.
202 Dylan Tondreau, Dayton Esposito and Wyatt Cooper typically race amatueur but with the bypass in play they stepped up to the Expert 399 class to be able to do the full 636 miles. Not only did they prove they can compete in the Expert class, they finished 7th overall motorcycle and 1st in class.
Our Ironman division is where the ambitious competitors are. The Ironman Pro and Ironman Expert classes were set to race all 636 miles solo on a motorcycle. Unfortunately 722 Bryce Nebeker had a crash early on in the race and was unable to finish. In the Pro Division 14M Georffrey Buscho was able to get an early lead and bring home the win. 11M Colton Scudder kept a steady pace all day, his main goal was to finish. He ended up being the last motorcycle across the finish line completing it in just over 15 hours.
For most racers with age comes the cage but not with this group in our Over 50 class. 540 Clint Chew, Kelley Pate, Colie Potter were excited to show these young guns how it’s done. Chew would be the one to start the race, handing the bike off to Potter for the middle section which left the finish for Pate. Although Pate had finished many races throughout his career, this was his 1st opportunity at a long distance race to ride the bike across the finish line for his team. They all celebrated his accomplishment and the team’s 1st place position.
The Over 30 class saw 302 Happy Dave Martin, who is always happy and this day was no exception. He was originally scheduled to race on a different team but there was an accident during testing which caused the rider to be unable to race. Dave, having set his sights on the 636 mile endeavor decided to create his own team, adding Brandon Hunt to the roster, they finished 1st in the Over 30 Expert class.
Open Amateur class saw 190 Dave Tullar, Ran Hooper and Bill Shaffer go up against the 169 of Robert Sanchez, Trevor Nichols and Kyle Schuler. The two teams were neck and neck 400 miles into the race but the 169 team was able to open up a lead and cross the finish line 1st just over an hour ahead of the 190 team coming in 2nd.
11W Krista Conway and Kimberly Loppnow were our only two women on two wheels for this race. They came to battle the men and show them just how tough they are. Unfortunately they lost a fuel pump early on that took them out of the race.
Both our Quad Expert team 801 Jason Romans and our Quad Ironman 906 Michael Sluski suffered mechanical issues midway through the race that prevented them from finishing.
5 and ½ hours after our last Motorcycle left the Start line, the Cars, Trucks and UTV’s lined up to take on the Vision Wheel Baja Nevada. The Fastest qualifier #1 Eric Hustead was first off the line, ready to set the pace and to take his chance at the overall. Next off the start line was the 1512 Blaine Conrad who qualified 2nd in his Class 1 car. 1512 Conrad would keep the 1 Hustead within his sights but at mile 149 a rock hidden behind a bush would put the 1512 up on two wheels and on its side in the blink of an eye. Quick thinking, a tow strap and help from fellow competitor 1562 Ladd Gilbert, who suffered a flat during qualifying, rendered assistance and got the 1512 back on all 4 tires. Unfortunately after his good deed for the day, the 1562 would end his day of racing 15 miles later at Pit 4 with a mechanical failure. 1512 Conrad would regain his track position but not be able to reel in Hustead for the Overall but would take home 1st place in Class 1.
1 Hustead would have a flawless day putting his truck 1st overall and 1st in Unlimited Truck covering the 636 miles in 10:02:58.
Our 2021 Class Champion 6101 Travis Chase was able to get out in the lead early on and kept out front till just before Pit 15 where a mechanical issue would set them back. This allowed 6173 Conner McMullen to retake the front runner position in class 6100. 6146 Brent Fox shared driving with his co-driver Cayden MacCachren, who is no stranger to off-road racing, they held down the 2nd position. 6144 Todd Jergensen, who shared driving duties with son Kyle, was running 3rd and lurking just outside the dust until mile 420 where they began to charge hard. By mile 615, the lead 3 6100’s were within seconds of each other.
6173 and 6146 were still leading physically but 6144 was beating them on corrected time, 6144 was a few seconds ahead with only 5 miles to go. 6173 would cross the line physically 1st followed by 6146 in 2nd. At the finish line everyone was waiting for the 6144 to appear, but just 2 miles from the end, 6144 got a flat tire that slowed him down.
1st thru 3rd in 6100 class were only separated by 2 minutes after 636 miles of racing!!!
6144 Jergensen would take home 3rd in class and 4th overall, 6146 Fox would finish 2nd in class, 3rd overall and 6173 McMullen would stand at the top with a 1st place finish and 2nd overall fastest vehicle.
The battle for the cash was on in Class 10. Not only was there a 1st place trophy waiting for someone but we partnered with AlumiCraft for the 10 for 10 challenge to pay out $10,000.00.The idea was simple: For every 10 entries in the class, 1st place prize money would go up $10,000.00. With that incentive, a total of 11 Class 10s took off from the start line, fastest one to the finish would win $10,000.00. Another great race was unveiling itself with 1035 Mike Coulter, 1004 Cade Garcia and 1075 Preston Brigman. 1075 Preston Brigman and Trevor Rasmussen would trade out driving duties whereas 1004 Cade Garcia and co-pilot Nick Almada would drive the entire race solo.
When they crossed the finish line, only 2 minutes separated the 1004 and 1075 cars but it was Cade Garcia in the 1004 who would take home the class win and the Alumicraft 10 for 10 challenge $10,000.00 payout.
In the UTV Turbo Class, T916 Jeremiah Scott, T938 Kolton Hustead and T991 Sierra Romo were locked in a 3 way battle for the top position. T916 and T938 were pushing each other hard just waiting for the other one to make a mistake. But it was T991 who made up 15 minutes on the two leaders between mile 560-636.
Although T991 Romo drove the wheels off her dad’s Polaris RZR, it was not enough to catch T938 Hustead or T916 Scott.
T916 Scott would put his Can Am X3 on the top step for the 2nd time this season followed by the T938 Hustead also in a Can Am X3 for 2nd place. All 3 Turbo UTV’s were only separated by 7 minutes.
The TrophyLites had a great race all day Friday and into the night and then finally Saturday morning. 6013 John Ferrari can finally check off winning a long distance race off his list. After years of trying, he was finally able to get it done. The TrophyLite class is all about driving as the trucks are spec. They have the same motors, parts, wheels, lights, etc. This levels the playing field and makes it more about skill. 6013 Ferrari had the skills this event, taking home the win with 6069 Jeff Kay 12 minutes back in 2nd place and 6033 Aaron Guell coming all the way from Wisconsin to take home 3rd place hardware.
As the sun was coming up Saturday morning the final two trucks crossed the finish line which also happened to be the current TrophyLite points leaders, 6081 Larry Schmueser and 6075 Chad Woodruff. Both teams had their full crew with them to celebrate and cheer them on as they made their way to the podium!
6081 Schmueser shared driving duties with Greg Bragg. They started second in their class and kept a good pace until Pit 3… it was all downhill from there. They changed a transmission at Pit 3, driveline at pit 4, axle shafts at Pit 11 and had a bunch of other issues along the way. But they persevered and finished and the best part was, they were not the last team to finish. That prize went to 6075 Chad Woodruff who was leading the pack until Pit 10, where they were plagued with all kinds of mechanical issues. After overcoming 19hrs in the driver’s seat with multiple co-pilot changes, 6075 Woodruff was awarded the 1st place last finisher award at the awards ceremony Saturday night.
Our 1st Place Last Finishers
6081 at the Podium just as the sun was coming up
Within the Naturally Aspirated UTV class, points leaders 1927 Carson Wernimont and 1957 Joe Bolton were ready to take on the rest of the field. But mid race mechanical issues took both vehicles out of contention, turning the race over to Vision Wheel sponsored 1937 Mia Chapman, 1910 Lucas Kassity and 1995 Kaden Wells. 1995 Wells would take full advantage of the clean air and put his Polaris RZR on the top step of the podium. 1910 Kassity would keep Wells on his toes and finish 2nd in his Artic Cat. 1937 Chapman would have the opportunity to race with her dad, Joe, and brother, Ryder. The family trio, along with Shane Till, doing the majority of the co-driving, would put the Vision Wheel sponsored Polaris in the final podium position.
2969 Mike Lesle led the Unlimited UTV field in front of 2901 Nolan Williams and 2993 Joe Fitos. Fitos got his feet wet in desert racing coming up from the TrophyLite series where he spent many years honing his skills before transitioning to the UTV’s. He and co-driver Daniel Plaza planned to drive the entire race without a driver’s change. 2901 Williams decided to share driving duties with his dad, Rodney, which was a gutsy move as Rodney had only driven the car 5 minutes around their CA ranch. And 2969 Lesle called in ringer Mike Deley to give him a break as he was recovering from a recent knee surgery. When the dust settled, 2901 Williams’ gutsy move paid off as his Dad not only maintained position but passed a few teams during his time behind the wheel helping them take home 1st place. 2993 Fitos began to feel the effect of the Nevada heat and diverse terrain about mile 450 but they pushed themselves to a 2nd place position. At the finish Joe stated in a very heavy NY accent “Listen, this Nevada heat is something, you give me humidity no problem but this dry heat, I thought we were done for. I’m ready for a cold beer and a shower”. 2969 Lesle overcame some minor setbacks and crossed the finish in 3rd place.
In the Stock UTV class U905 Sarah Stewart took to the race course 1st followed by U929 Bill Baker and then U938 Tyler Stewart. At the beginning of the year, U905 Sarah and co-driver Juddi Hudak were not sure if they would be ready for the Vision Wheel Baja Nevada 636 mile adventure. But with a few races under their belts, the 2 ladies arrived at the start determined to cross the finish line.
All 3 stock UTV’s challenged each other for the lead throughout the day and into late evening. Coming in 1st was the U929 Bill Baker followed by U905 Sarah Stewart in 2nd barely edging out her husband U938 Tyler Stewart by just under 2 minutes leaving him in 3rd place.
The last two vehicles off the start were the fan favorites, the Class 11 VW bugs. 1148 Eric Driscoll partnered with his brother Chris to take on the 636 miles. 1121 Garey Leavitt was prepared to race with his grandson Gabriel. Unfortunately both vehicles broke early on which took them out of the competition.
Thank you to Motorsports Safety Solutions for helping us keep the racers safe. They go above and beyond every race not only helping with medical calls but retrievals and other aspects of the race as well.
A very special Thank you to all the wonderful Volunteers and Legacy Staff for making this event possible. Without each and every one of you fulfilling your roles and going above and beyond, this event would not have been a flawless homerun with the racing community.
Lastly, here are a few quotes from the racers about the 2022 Vision Wheel Baja Nevada from the finish line:
“That was a true desert race.”
“That was way more technical than we were expecting.”
“Multiple times I said to my co-driver this terrain is amazing.”
“The race course was absolutely epic.”
“This race was the best race I have ever done.”
“The volunteers were great, so excited and giving us the thumbs up as we went by encouraging us to keep going”
A big shout out to Turn 2 Productions for the great livestream coverage and to Herling Racing for making the livestream possible.
Make sure to head to our YouTube Chanel to re-watch the action!