A year after their previous truck burned to the ground while fighting for the win, Ryan Arciero scored the ultimate redemption at Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno on Friday. He completed the nearly 500-mile course in 7:56:49.109 to score the Trick Truck and overall four-wheel win. The victory came after multiple near-misses at this event, including a podium run cut short by a cooling issue in 2018 and last year’s fire, and in a brand new truck completed just days before the event.
Dustin Grabowski would finish second overall, taking the class 6100 victory in the process, ahead of Steve Olliges, who completed the overall podium in the second-fastest Trick Truck. BJ Baldwin would complete the Trick Truck top three ahead of Kyle Jergensen and Adam Householder. Grabowski dominated the spec truck division, finishing more than 16 minutes ahead of his next-closest competitor; Brent Fox and Jordan Brenthel would complete that podium. James Dean would run fifth in the four-wheel divisions on the way to the 1500 victory, more than 17 minutes ahead of Sam Berri and nearly an hour ahead of Morgan Langley.
A qualifying crash for the Concrete Motorsports truck of Kevin Thompson and Harley Letner would put BITD’s defending champs behind the eight ball entering the day. They’d recover for a seventh place finish, but both Jergensen and Householder, their closest rivals on points, would finish ahead of them to complicate the title race.
The Open Pro Motorcycle classes produced the fastest battle of the day, with Dalton Shirey’s Husqvarna posting the best time of the race at 7:44:10.403. Shirey beat former Dakar Rally champion Ricky Brabec and his Honda by 9:43, and KTM rider Hayden Hintz by 19:16.
Austin Weiland would take the UTV Turbo class victory ahead of Dustin Jones and Branden Sims. A fifth place finish for Mitch Guthrie Jr. and DNF for Phil Blurton would swing their long-standing rivalry in Guthrie’s favor, but with eighth-place Ryan Piplic and Jones having entered the event within striking distance on points, the battle is far from over. Dodge Poelman would take the UTV Pro NA win ahead of Carson Wernimont and JD Marsh, while a heartbreaking late DNF for Chris Blais in UTV Unlimited opened the door for podium finishers Randy Raschein, Jim Beaver, and Michael Isom to settle it among themselves.
The UTV race was marred by tragedy when a driver was struck on the course by another vehicle at RM 11 and succumbed to his injuries in spite of the best efforts of BITD rescue staff and air medical support. All of us at Off-Road Racer send our condolences to the driver’s family and friends. The race resumed after an extended delay, with starters behind the incident given a time credit.
Two rounds remain in the 2021 Best in the Desert season for all classes, with each division visiting Laughlin, Nevada in September and Parker, Arizona in late fall. The UTV Legends Championship kicks the racing off for UTVs, motorcycles, and quads on September 9-12, while the Laughlin Desert Classic completes the month for cars and trucks on September 23-26.
Images via Harlen Foley/Best in the Desert