When Brandon Arthur got a great, second row starting position draw for the South Point, Vegas 250, his team was confident they would achieve excellent results on raceday. In his only other race in the new truck, Rockin on the River 2012, Brandon won the Trophy Truck class and finished second overall. With his new co-rider, Brian Busby of F&L Racing Fuels and backing from Rigid Industries, Maxima Racing Oils and KMC Wheels, the opportunity to line up against some of the top teams in the sport was something he was looking forward to with great anticipation.
Everyone racing a Trophy Truck in HDRA has good equipment but the top teams also have solid financial support and years of racing experience behind them. After announcing that the HDRA series would also be part of a World Championship of Desert Racing that combines their results with the SCORE Desert Series to crown a World Champion, Top Trophy Truck teams showed up to chase a World Championship title. Brandon would be racing against his usual rivals plus BJ Baldwin, The Herbst Brothers and Cameron Steele.
At the drop of the green flag, Cameron Steele and Ruben Ledezma roared off from the front row. The next pair off the line would be Brandon and five time champion BJ Baldwin. Brandon got the jump as the flag dropped and raced side by side with BJ into the first turn. Brandon knows you can’t win a 250 mile race in the first corner but you can lose one. He also knew BJ would not back down so he lifted to let BJ go when the track narrowed to a single line. All the pre-race preparation, planning and hard work was done, it was now time to go about the job of racing. It might have been due to the frigid temperatures, a stray rock or just a bad part but at mile 14, a fitting failed sending oil over the hot engine and into the cab of the truck. Brandon quickly shut it down and brought the truck to a stop. Thankfully, the onboard extinguishing system was not needed.
HDRA recovery was on scene quickly and had the truck in tow back to the hotel parking lot. The team quickly found the problem, replaced the part and cleaned up as much as they could. After an escort back to the course by HDRA officials, the team had lost close to an hour. The emphasis shifted from winning, to making sure they finished. Unless something miraculous happened, they had little chance of catching the leaders. It was soon discovered that the same special anti-wear/extreme pressure additives in their Maxima Racing Oil that protect critical engine components from extreme loads and peak temperatures also clings well to foot pedals.
Brandon’s feet were slipping off the gas pedal in the whoops but on the bright side, they had no fear of losing their engine, it was running strong.
Brandon, Brian and the rest of the team took advantage of the conservative pace to hone their communication skills. “It was my first race with Brian co-riding,” said Brandon, “It was good to have some time to get used to each other. I like the way he calls out corners. He has a lot of racing experience. He will be a big asset to the team.”
Co-riding has to be one of the hardest jobs in racing. It’s not easy hurling through the desert in the hands of someone else. No driver will admit it but every co-rider knows, all the stray branches picked up and brush rubbing happens on the passenger side for some reason. “I felt comfortable with Brandon right away,” said Brian, “Off the start we were in BJ’s dust and the sun was in our eyes. I called out the corner and with one hand on the wheel and the other covering his eyes, Brandon flicked it into the corner sideways. I knew right then we were going to have some fun. There were times when the truck got quiet because I didn’t have to say anything. Brandon was taking the right lines and putting the truck where it needed to be.”
The team soldiered on to finish eighth out of twelve trucks; far short of their goals but they did pick up valuable points on some of the competitors who they will be tangling with as the season progresses. Their next race will be the HDRA 250 in Ridgecrest, California April 5-7. The team will be there looking for redemption, it going to be a good one!
Photography By: Brian Binkert
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