A fifth place finish at the TSCO Vegas to Reno race has put Riot Racing first in the Best in the Desert points series. The team is thrilled to be in this position, but they know that with this year’s format which allows for a dropped race, the championship is still up for grabs by any number of teams.
“First in points is a positive thing,” Sammy Zaranti, the lead mechanic said. “But it all boils down to the last race at the end of the season. You have to treat each race separately and go for the goal and wherever the points lay the points lay.”
As the team gears up for their next race, the SCORE Primm 300, Riot is still excited about the fifth place finish in their class, seventh overall, at Vegas to Reno on August 20.
“Fifth is pretty darn good and points wise it puts us in an awesome spot for the year,” #68’s driver, Marc Ewing, said, after starting the truck 27th overall in Beatty. While he is proud of the finish, Ewing can’t help but want to excel further.
“You’re psyched, but it’s not on the podium so I get amped up to do even better,” he said.
Everyone was very pleased with the truck’s stellar performance, which took many arduous weeks to achieve after completely rebuilding it.
“The truck was phenomenal,” Zaranti said. “Marc did a great job driving, and Josh (Daniel) did a great job.”
Daniel and Allen Hickerson of DanZio Racing finished the last half of the race for Ewing and co-driver Ira Conn.
“We did a real good job,” Daniel said. “Sammy prepped that truck really well. (It) ran ballin’.”
Ewing and the team were very happy with Daniel’s performance.
“Josh took care of the truck, and he’s an aggressive, fast driver for sure,” Ewing said. “Josh is a great addition to the team,” Conn added.
Allen Hickerson, Daniel’s co-driver was happy to be able to take over after Ewing and Conn set a decent pace throughout the first half of the race.
“Marc and Ira did a great job getting settled in. You got to get into a good groove. By the time we got in, a lot of the field… was spread out so we didn’t have to deal with as much dust,” Hickerson said.
With it being his first time co-driving in a trophy truck, Hickerson was impressed and happy to cross the finish line in Dayton for Riot.
“Every time you cross that finish line it’s a great feeling. It makes it even better when you place in a decent position. Thanks to Marc, Ira and the pit crew for doing a good job. There’s no way that truck could have done what it did without a team effort,” Hickerson said.
As time goes by, the Riot team is learning the ins and outs of the race vehicles and how to work together as a team. “The team really meshed together. The first pit stop was a little slow, but then we got momentum,” Zaranti said.
Ewing has confidence in his crew. “We’ve got an awesome team now and both trucks are in great shape,” he said.
He and the team are looking forward to taking on the challenge of racing at the Primm 300 on September 11. With the race taking place in Riot’s backyard, the team is hoping to do well.
Follow Riot Racing as they prepare for this exciting event on http://www.riotracing.com and http://www.twitter.com/riotracing. Fans can watch Riot Racing’s teaser video for the Vegas to Reno race at http://riotracing.com/videos/view/bitd_vegas_to_reno_2010_teaser-_riot_racing/. A full-length video recap by VitaBrevisFilms will be released on Riot’s Web site soon.
- Tuesday August 31, 2010
- By Riot Racing
Friday morning, Aug. 20, Riot Racing heads to Beatty, Nevada for the TSCO Vegas to Reno race, a 534-mile adventure that will test the team’s endurance. Riot is completing the finishing touches after spending eight weeks completely overhauling the trophy truck from bumper to bumper. After testing the past few weeks and nailing down loose ends, confidence in the truck and within the team is building.
“It’s definitely a contender truck,” Steve Sloan, Riot’s shop manager said. “It’s run better than it ever has before,” Ira Conn, Riot’s co-driver said after a test session this week.
Taking the reigns for the second half of the race will be Josh Daniel of DanZio Racing. He and his co-driver for his Class 1 car, Allen Hickerson, have joined Riot Racing as a back-up driver and a back-up co-driver. They come with an exciting race record of four overall wins in the past two years.
“I’m psyched to have Josh and Allen on Team Riot for the Vegas to Reno race!” Marc Ewing said. “They bring a passion for racing and record of winning with them. They are a great fit for Riot, and I’m looking forward to some great racing!”
Josh Daniel and his co-driver are thrilled as well.
“It seems like Riot’s going on the right track and I’m hoping to be a part of that and be successful. It’s a privilege to be able to race on a team like this,” Daniel said.
Time Trials on Wednesday in Primm will determine Riot’s start position on race day. The team has a 22nd start position for the trial, which begins at 1:30 p.m. They hope to use this opportunity to help them get in the front of the starting order.
In Beatty, Nevada, two hours northwest of Las Vegas, the first truck will start at 9:30 a.m Friday morning. The race will take approximately 10 hours to complete, ending in Dayton, Nevada, an hour south of Reno.
The course is a very fast, dusty race with a high attrition rate and drastic elevation changes. The first 150 miles are silty and require a higher level of finesse to maintain the drive line in areas of poor traction and visibility. There’s an extremely rocky decent that has to be negotiated toward the end. Ewing and Conn plan to start the race and then have Daniel and Hickerson take over about halfway through.
“It’s a long, silty, dusty race. The first half is trying to keep a good pace… and you start pouring it on in the end,” Daniel said. “I have a feeling there’s going to be about four or five teams in the hunt at the end. I think we can be one of them.”
Currently in second place in Best in the Desert’s points standings, it is vital for Riot to cross the finish line in order to stay in the hunt for the championship.
“We’ve got a great team, and a lot of people are working very hard. All I wish is just that we do our best and we get to the finish line,” Sammy Zaranti, the lead truck mechanic said. “Gotta finish to win it.”
Crossing the finish line bears much more meaning at this race for the Riot crew. At Vegas to Reno one year ago Tony Sorensen, Riot’s co-driver who was driving the truck, passed away while racing. It was a tragic day, and the loss was devastating for his family members, many of whom were present including his son T.J. Sorensen who was co-driving with him.
But what has brought some solace is that Tony passed while doing something he loved.
“For him to get to drive that truck in that race in many ways was a dream come true, and it’s tragic. The whole thing was tragic,” Ira Conn, Riot’s co-driver said.
Tony was an integral part of the team who has enabled the team to be what it is today. His brother Derral and Tony’s children plan to attend the race in his memory.
“I want to go to honor Tony and cheer on the team that’s continued on,” Derral said. “I really felt like that was Tony’s race and now it’s Marc and Ira’s turn to kick some butt and win, and I know Tony’s gonna be with them in spirit.”
Although it has only been a year since Tony’s passing, the team has transformed in many ways. It has continued to grow and reorganize with new crew members, but the road has been challenging. This was the new Riot mechanics’ first prep on the original Riot trophy truck, which was last raced at Battle at Primm in February.
“It’s tough learning a new truck. As time goes on you get to know the truck and it gets to know you,” Sloan said.
Riot welcomes a new mechanic, Brandon Johnson, who has been familiarizing himself the last few weeks with Riot’s vehicles in preparation for this race. Before Riot, Johnson worked at Collins Motorsports prepping trophy trucks and building pro-2 short course trucks. For six years he worked at Grove Lumber Racing in Ontario, California covering all aspects of truck prep for a Porter class 1500. In 2007 and 2008 that truck finished second in overall points for the Best in the Desert Series, and it finished every mile of every race.
“He’s a hard worker and a great prep guy,” Sloan said.
“It’s one of the nicest shops and there’s still room for it to grow,” Johnson said about Riot Racing.
“The talent that’s in the shop now is really impressive. They know how to do it right and have fun,” Zaranti said. “The guys have done a great job. It’s a long road and you cross your fingers every day and hopefully on race day it shows,” Sloan added.
On Thursday before the race, Riot will have a booth at Contingency and Technical Inspection at the Aliante Station Casino Hotel in North Las Vegas. They will be selling Riot apparel while debuting their new Geiser Pre-Runner from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The 650 horsepower Chevy engine has 26 inches of wheel travel in the front and 33 inches the back. It holds 90 gallons of fuel and weighs 6,500 pounds. It’s running 39” BFGoodrich Baja TA/KR tires and a Vision X 42” LED light bar. This was Geiser’s first four-door truck with four seats that each have five-point harnesses.
Ewing and Conn tested out the machine this week in Jean. “That rig is a cross between a Rolls and a rock crusher. Geiser Bros really outdid themselves on this project. Every detail was carefully manicured and expertly executed,” Conn said.
In addition to all of the action taking place at Riot’s shop, the team is also unveiling a new graphic design on the truck this race. Riot is excited to show off this new look and their talent in America’s biggest off-road race this Friday. Follow the team throughout this race on http://www.riotracing.com or http://twitter.com/riotracing, where photos, video and the latest information will be available. Listen to in-car communications and watch the truck kicking up the dust out on the course. Feel like you’re part of the crew as we hope to take you across the finish line.
- Wednesday August 18, 2010
- By Riot Racing
As the Riot truck closes in on its last stretch toward Reno, Nevada this Friday there will be a new face behind the wheel. Josh Daniel of DanZio Racing has joined Riot Racing’s #68 Trophy Truck team as their back-up driver along with his co-driver, Allen Hickerson. Daniel and Hickerson will take over for Riot’s driver Marc Ewing and co-driver Ira Conn about halfway through the race.
Daniel is the co-owner of DanZio Racing in Henderson, Nevada, a team that spawned from DanZio Performance Engineering, an off-road engine building company he founded five years ago with co-owner and crew chief Chris Muzio. Daniel started the race team three years ago with a Class 1 car that he drives in the SNORE, SCORE and BITD series. Riot is excited to have him on board.
“I’m psyched to have Josh and Allen on team Riot for the Vegas to Reno race!” Ewing said. “They bring a passion for racing and record of winning with them. They are a great fit for the Riot team, and I’m looking forward to some great racing!”
DanZio comes to Riot with a strong race record of four overall wins. In 2009 they won the SNORE Midnight Special and Rage at the River, and this year they won at SNORE’s Battle at Primm and the Pro Baja 2010 Short Course in Cabo. They also took an overall win at the 2010 Laughlin Leap Challenge.
“He brings experience and confidence from a Class 1,” Brandon Johnson, a Riot mechanic said. “He’s comfortable at high speed and he’s very talented.”
Driving since he was eight, racing has been Daniel’s dream since he was young, and after starting DanZio Performance Engineering five years ago and building his own car, he was finally able to do so. He has been a back-up driver for Cameron Steele and Ashcraft Racing, and last year he joined the Desert Assassins. Now he’s eager to take on a more dedicated task in joining Riot.
“I’m real excited about joining the team,” Daniel said. “It seems like Riot’s going on the right track and I’m hoping to be a part of that and be successful. It’s a privilege to be able to race on a team like this.”
Joining Daniel this race is his Class 1 co-driver for the past five years, Allen Hickerson. From San Diego, California, Hickerson works for D&D Laser Screed, a company Daniel also owns. Daniel said Hickerson is a great navigator and mechanic, and their personalities compliment one another to create a great duo.
“I’m very comfortable with Josh. We make a good team up front,” Hickerson said. “I’m stoked to be able to do this with one of my best friends and with Riot.”
Not only do they have confidence in one another, but also in the machine they will be racing. Daniel has been out testing with the truck and the team the past few weeks.
“The Riot truck has all the best stuff in it. The Geiser truck is one of the best trucks you can buy,” Daniel said.
Coming from a Class 1, Hickerson is very excited for his first opportunity to co-drive in a trophy truck. “Trophy Trucks are the best of the best in desert racing, especially with a team that’s established,” he said. “I’m on cloud nine and I can’t wait.”
With Vegas to Reno quickly approaching this Friday, Aug. 20, they are both excited and ready to compete.
“It’s a long, silty, dusty race. The first half is about trying to keep a good pace… and you start pouring it on in the end,” Daniel said. “I have a feeling there’s going to be about four or five teams in the hunt at the end. I think we can be one of them.”
- Tuesday August 17, 2010
- By Riot Racing
Riot Racing is proud to announce Vision X Off Road and Pole Position Raceway as its new sponsors for the 2010-2011 season. The team is very excited to begin its partnerships with these companies that are both well respected in the racing community. With their resources, support and enthusiasm behind the team, Riot is expecting to continue its success as it heads into the biggest race of the year on the US calendar, Vegas to Reno on Aug. 20, 2010.
“We’re looking forward to sharing our successes with Vision X and Pole Position Raceway,” Marc Ewing, driver of the #68 Riot Racing trophy truck said.
Vision X, established in 1997, is one of the leading manufacturers of lighting systems in the world. With offices based in Washington and Arizona, its products are used across all seven continents. Vision X lighting is used in emergency and military vehicles, heavy equipment, public transportation, commercial vehicles, the mining industry and even on the NASA Lunar Rover.
Vision X is extensively used in the off-road racing community as well. Riot Racing for the 2010-2011 race series will be running the new Vision X 6.5 in. 50-watt lightweight composite body HID off-road light in both spot and Euro beam configurations.
Other race teams that are partners with Vision X include: Ballistic BJ Baldwin, Norman Motorsports, Jesse Jones, McBeath Brothers, Subaru Rally Team USA, LVDC, Wilson Brothers and McCallum Motorsports. In the past six years Vision X has worked with the top teams to provide the best quality product, whether its their new 50-watt composite body off-road HID lights or the new EVO-Prime 10-watt LED bars. More information on Vision X’s partners and products is available on their Web site, http://www.visionxusa.com.
“We at Vision X Off Road strategically align ourselves with teams that are cutting edge in the off-road industry. After looking into what Riot Racing has going on over the past years, as well as their tremendous track record, we thought it would be a perfect fit for both parties,” Joe Biro, national sales manager, off-road division of Vision X said of sponsoring Riot Racing. “We, as a lighting manufacturer, know we can get them to the podium!”
“In the short time that Riot has spent with the staff at Vision X we feel very confident that we will be using the best, most cutting edge products available in off-road racing. We’re looking forward to a long and lasting relationship,” Harvey Knapp, development manager at Riot Racing said.
Also joining ranks with Riot is Pole Position Raceway in Las Vegas, a state-of-the-art karting facility that the Riot crew and other desert racing fans enjoy as their own racing entertainment. Their high-performance electric European karts can hit 45 mph as they navigate through the exhilarating fourth of a mile road course in a climate-controlled environment. They accelerate faster and handle better than any other indoor competition kart in the world, according to their Web site, and they are only found at Pole Position Raceway. These quality features combine to help make Pole Position Raceway one of the fastest growing companies in the sport.
“Pole Position Raceway is a business that means a lot to Riot Racing because we love to use their facilities and let off steam after a long stressful day of testing or racing in the desert. Their facilities are incredible, and it’s a great environment for the team to let loose and practice their skills while having a bit of fun,” Knapp of Riot Racing said.
Pole Position Raceway, founded in 2005, has five tracks open seven days a week. They have two Las Vegas valley locations, two tracks in southern California, one in Oklahoma and another facility will open before the end of the year in New York. P2R Karting, Inc., the company that franchises Pole Position Raceway, is currently working to create a network of 20-plus tracks.
“Pole Position Raceway is excited to be a partner with Riot Racing,” said Kirk Babbington, sales manager at Pole Position Raceway in Las Vegas. “We feel it is a natural fit as Pole Position Raceway is the nation’s premier indoor kart facility and Riot Racing is one of the most technological and innovative operations in desert off-road racing.”
“Riot Racing strives to make its fans feel like they are a part of our team during races by using the latest in technology. Pole Position Raceway has already achieved this sense of involvement through their facility and attention to detail on the track,” Knapp of Riot Racing said. “With Vision X and Pole Position Raceway on board with the Riot crew we can be assured the future is bright both in and out of the desert.”
Riot Racing is making its final preparations for the nearly 600-mile Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race this Aug. 19 to 21. Currently second in the Best in the Desert championship standings, Riot understands that the importance of this race to the team cannot be denied. Riot thanks their sponsors BF Goodrich, F&L Racing Fuel and Geiser Bros for their continued support. Fans can follow Riot leading up to the race on Twitter, http://twitter.com/riotracing, and read the latest news and watch the pre-race videos on Riot’s Web site, http://www.riotracing.com.
- Tuesday July 27, 2010
- By Riot Racing
Trucks clamored into the Alamo Truck Stop early Saturday morning awaiting the Bilek Silver State 300. After a long drive from the shop in Henderson that morning, the crew stopped for breakfast. Ira Conn, the co-driver, shoveled down the biscuit and gravy supreme breakfast at the Windmill Ridge Restaurant. Confident and full, they finished up and met with Rick Geiser and his Geiser Bros crew to begin the pre-race prep in the staging area.
Vehicles lined up behind the station for what proved to be an anti-climatic start. The trucks were escorted six miles out through an environmentally sensitive area to a remote start area. The Riot team wished them good luck and set off to their designated pits.
The first sighting of the truck was at pit one. Riot blew through the straightaway casting a could of dust over the crowd. At pit two, two cars pitted ahead of the truck, so the pit chief instructed #68 to head straight through and plan to stop at Pit 3 and 4 to splash gas. Everyone knew how critical pit strategy was in this 300 mile point to point race.
“Pit wise we were just playing it by ear where to pit for track position,” Rick Geisier, the stand-in driver for Marc Ewing said. “That all worked out really good for our pit strategy.”
The truck held strong through pits three and four and the crew was gathering at 5 for the full-service stop. They anxiously awaited Riot’s roll into Caliente. Riot was spotted along the tree line. “Here they come!” Tools in hand, the crew members got into position. The truck rolled to a stop and the guys pounced on the truck at full force, changing out the two rear tires and filling it up with gas. Before they knew it all hands were up and the truck was off in 34 seconds.
“I didn’t even know they changed rear tires because they changed so fast and it seemed like everything went so smooth,” Geiser said.
Geiser believes that the pit strategy gave Riot an edge at this race.
“It was a textbook day. All our pits were right on. We got quick splashes. The fuel pit was awesome,” said Sammy Zaranti, a Riot mechanic.
At that point the crew calculated that Riot was in third place and 10th overall. The truck was running well and they began counting down the miles to the finish.
Meanwhile, Rick Geiser and Ira Conn said they were having a blast together in the #68. “When you’re racing out there your going 100 miles plus and Ira pops up, ‘This is beautiful scenery. Look at this look this at that.’ That keeps a little of the fun in it,” Geiser said. “We kept on cruisin’ and movin’ forward and made it to the pits and did what we had to do.”
“The imagination shown in creating the course was great, and the diversity of the surroundings was unlike any other event,” Ira Conn, co-driver said. “I really look forward to doing that race again.”
This was Ira’s first time co-driving for Rick in a race. “Riding with Rick was a blast, I learned a lot riding with him,” Conn said.
In addition, Rick said not only was this a learning experience for the co-driver, but for him as well. “Nobody’s ever read a GPS like that before riding with me… I would have never thought that me being in this for 30 years (that) this guy’s going to help me on the GPS,” Geiser said. “It put me up one more level, him riding with me.”
After peeling out of Pit 5 it was the final stretch to the finish and everyone was eager to beat the truck there and witness the finale. Pedal to the floor, streaming down the hills, the crew watched as the truck’s speed hit the high 90s on the IonEarth tracking PDA. Hopes perked as the finish was in reach and a strong one at that. Riot chase vehicles pulled into the finish just in time. Crew members trekked up a hill where you could see the truck squeeze through the mountains. Riot came hurling down the hill and around the final corner, the tail end spilling out just enough to kick up some celebratory dust before blowing through the finish.
The crowd of spectators screamed with excitement, and a sigh of relief came over the crew as Riot passed under the Best in the Desert banner and the checkered flag. The truck drove up onto the podium and everyone’s smiles grew as Riot’s second place finish in the trophy truck class became a reality.
“I think it’s exciting for everybody, not only for us driving, but the team, the car, owner the guys that prepped it, the guys that gave it gas and on and on,” Geiser said.
Steve Sourapas, Andy McMillin, Rick Johnson and Clyde Stout all congratulated Rick on the great race. The Riot crew was very proud of Rick and Ira’s finish and the truck’s performance overall.
“I’d call the truck flawless,” Zaranti said. “We could have washed it off and done another 1,000 miles. No issues at all, no problems with the tires, no flats. You couldn’t ask for much more.”
This was Zaranti’s first race as a part of the Riot Racing crew along with a few other new faces, including Mike Lucey, Jerry Walker, and Steve Sloan, who have all worked together for the last month prepping Riot’s new vehicle for this vital race.
“I think you have a top notch team with good people (who) are excited about racing,” Geiser said.
“We got a great team and a great group of guys and everybody puts in their effort and it shows,” Zaranti added.
Now with a strong finish in the books for the Riot team, they are already gearing up for their next race venture.
“Second place was a good confidence booster. Now you look forward,” Jordan Poole, a Riot crew member said.
The next Best in the Desert Race for Riot will be Vegas to Reno, which will be another chase race. Hopefully the lessons Team Riot has learned in the Silver State 300 will contribute to successful chemistry for the next race in the series this August. Keep up with the latest Riot news and watch videos from Silver State 300 at http://www.riotracing.com.
Fans can watch the preview video for the Silver State 300 here.
- Thursday April 29, 2010
- By Riot Racing