After celebrating a great end to the BITD season, the Riot crew quickly turned the truck around for the final race of the year, one of their favorites— Rage at the River. The crew washed down the truck, changed fluids, the rear-end gear and transmission, and were headed out for Laughlin.
Two days of racing on a shorter, action-packed course provided the perfect venue for friends and family of the Riot team. The tent was bustling and the infield was jammed. The scissor lift, loaded up with fans decked out in Riot shirts, rose above the masses for an aerial view of the start line.
Trucks started two at a time, with Riot in the 15th start position, the fourth truck. Marc Ewing kicked up mud from the watered-down infield as the truck pulled out onto its first of five laps on the 14-mile course. Spectators lined the hills against a backdrop of the city. As the truck zigzagged through the infield and past the Riot pit, fans cheered them on.
With little wind driving conditions were challenging. In addition, the truck was stuck in traffic. “We were in a slower pack than we wanted to be in,” said Jordan Poole, Riot’s crew chief and co-driver. “It took us to the fourth lap to run with the faster guys.” None the less, Riot pulled off a third place finish in their class for the day.
On day two, Riot drew the pole position, which was a dramatic improvement from the day prior. Seizing this advantage, on the first lap Ewing blew past the main pit, turning crew members’ heads. “If he keeps driving like that we have a real chance,” Harvey Knapp, team manager said. Hope was brewing for a win.
“It was a completely different race just being out in front in the clean air. We really got to see how Marc drives,” Poole said. “That was a test for him to see if he could hang with the big boys, and he did. He drove the hardest I’ve ever seen on that first and last lap since I’ve been working for him.”
The excitement was building and Ewing’s confidence soared as he proved his talent to the crowd. Unlike the first day’s dusty conditions, however, the high winds of day two were clearing the clouds of 68’s wake. Despite Ewing driving one of his fastest races, by the last lap Jimmy Knuckles was closing in.
As the #68 entered the infield, Knuckles slipped past Riot on the left-hand side just before a 25 mph speed zone.
“Rules are rules, and it was made clear in the driver’s meeting that (Knuckles) was not supposed to do what he did,” Poole said about the pass. According to SNORE, passing anywhere in the pits was prohibited. Riot was offered the opportunity to request an official protest, but declined.
“Regardless of the pass, the only way we would have won was if (Knuckles) had been disqualified,” Poole said.
Knuckles was the faster truck, and Riot did not want to take a win by way of someone else’s disqualification. After the race, SNORE officials said that while the situation could be debatable, it wasn’t significant enough to warrant any action against Knuckles.
Riot ended up taking second place overall in its class. The entire crew was thrilled for what was Ewing’s best finish to date. “It was definitely a great result for a quick turnaround,” said Sammy Zaranti, lead mechanic.
“It was one hell of a way to close out the year for everyone,” Poole said, expressing his pride in the team that worked diligently this year to bring Riot to this commendable finish. They will carry that finish with them into the first race of the 2011 season, Parker 425 in February.
- Saturday January 1, 2011
- By Riot Racing
Coming out of BlueWater without the finish the team hoped for, Riot eagerly geared up for the last race of the Best in the Desert season, the TransWest Ford Henderson 250. With four trucks within striking distance of the BITD championship, this double-points race was the determining factor for the season.
As this was their first bid for a championship, the Riot team— only two years in the works, felt serious pressure being within reach of the podium. “Going into this year my goal was that next year we might be competing. The fact that we’re in the hunt at all— I’m ecstatic,” driver Marc Ewing said.
To ensure #68’s best chance for a top finish, Riot called in Josh Daniel to drive the second Riot trick truck in the race as the #90. Daniel’s truck was to act as mobile support by staying close to Ewing’s truck in the event that Ewing needed parts or mechanical assistance during the race.
On December 4, at the start line in Jean, Riot Racing was an unmistakeable presence with two trucks wrapped in red and black.
Riot’s crew chief, Jordan Poole, was co-driving for Ewing for the first time that day. The duo had been practicing together for some time and was more than ready to hit the start line. The team had great confidence in the vehicle, which lead mechanic Sammy Zaranti and the rest of the Riot crew had relentlessly prepped for this final race. Ewing left the start in 27th place, the fifth trick truck. Daniel qualified as the third trick truck with Riot’s mechanic Brandon Johnson as co-driver.
Moving up several spots with a great first lap, Riot’s #68 pulled through the pits, passing an amped up crew. Shortly behind came Daniel in Riot’s #90 truck. BJ Baldwin was right on Daniel’s tail, boldly making reeling gestures as he passed Riot’s pit.
The hunt was on. The crew watched as Daniel beat Baldwin off of the hill and headed out onto the race course for lap two. In front of them the #68 was battling limited visibility and a rocky course as they powered ahead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the #90 hit a boulder, taking them out of the race. With the #90 pulled off the course and Ewing’s support out of play, BJ began closing in on #68.
Ewing pulled in for its first pit stop on the second lap. The Riot crew had been preparing for these key moments all week with tire changes, fueling drills and endless strategizing. As Day Gang held the truck, the crew blasted on two rear tires, filled the truck with fuel and oil, and mounted on the Vision X light bar. In less than two minutes the truck left the pit.
Now in the fourth position and without any more scheduled pit stops, everything was riding on Ewing to make it to the finish line. Baldwin was starting to catch up and Riot’s radio transmissions began flowing in.
“BJ is driving like crazy to catch us! Tell Marc to step it up. Keep going!” Riot’s Mike Lucey began relaying to the main pit. “If BJ’s driving like crazy he’s going to break. He’s going to hit a rock,” someone said. “No, he’s not,” came a reply. “If BJ needs to make up time he’s going to!” another assured.
Zaranti nervously shifted his weight back and forth, staring at the running order on his phone in his hand. He managed a smile. “I just want to see her come through one more time,” he said. Staring down pit row, the truck still miles away, he seemed to be willing her to the finish line.
The crew gathered around the podium as trucks began pulling in for the last time this year. All eyes were focused out in the distance where Riot’s lights would break over the hill, through the dusty air, signaling their arrival. As a truck came rolling down the hill, everyone seemed to hold their breath. Dark amber beams illuminated the General Tire arch and Baldwin pulled behind the podium. He had beaten Riot to the finish.
Moments later, as Riot pulled into the finish, a crowd began to gather around the dust-caked truck. Ewing and Poole were all smiles.
Riot’s #68 was the fifth trick truck to finish, which put the team in fourth place overall for the Best in the Desert season. The crew cheered as the truck pulled onto the podium under the lights.
“I’m happy to be sitting here for sure,” Poole said at the finish. “We had a flawless run, no flats, and Marc drove an awesome race.”
“We’re very excited to have finished how we did this season in only our second year. It’s awesome,” said Harvey Knapp, team manager. “Everyone can’t wait to accomplish even more by taking what we’ve learned and applying it next season.”
- Friday December 31, 2010
- By Riot Racing
After two days of intense racing on a new, punishing course, Riot secured a sixth place finish at the BlueWater Desert Challenge in Parker, Arizona on October 16. The race will count as Riot’s dropped race for the Best in the Desert series. The Riot truck, driven by Marc Ewing, started in the ninth position on Saturday. “Marc drove really well, and after the first lap we established a pace that was keeping us in the hunt for sure,” co-driver Ira Conn said.
The #68 was running hot most of the day in the high temperature and heavy conditions. On the last lap out of the dust a class 8 truck appeared stuck in the center of a the track.
“We almost got around them, and then we got bogged down too for about three or four minutes and this cost us two position spots. Pretty frustrating,” Conn said.
While Ewing enjoyed the course and the new format, it had its challenges. “The only problem with that course is that it’s so silty and dusty and the opportunities to pass are in blinding silt are definitely tricky.”
By the end of the first day the Riot truck rolled in seventh place. Ewing’s rib injury from the Primm 300 rollover was becoming a concern and he wanted to spare himself for the Henderson race. He asked Josh Daniel to take over on Sunday with Jordan Poole, Riot’s crew chief, co-driving. Daniel had driven the second half of Vegas to Reno for Riot, and this was Poole’s first time co-driving in a race.
“It’s nice to have (Daniel) there to take over. I want to be good for the next race,” Ewing said of the change up. Ewing still planned to watch the race from above in a helicopter the next day.
Daniel was excited to be in the truck again and on a course he enjoyed.
“I had a blast on it. I like that kind of short course. It was rough, dusty, full of holes. I saw John Wayne,” he said.
Poole was thrilled to co-drive for the first time. “The course was awesome. It was super sandy, silty and pretty rough. I don’t think many people have seen this before,” he said.
After running a more conservative race on Saturday, Daniel was determined to make up some ground. “We were able to get around McGillivray’s truck pretty quick and we caught Rick Johnson but couldn’t get around him because of the dust. He’s good enough to not let me by.”
On the last lap again Riot encountered some trouble. The drive shaft took an unexpected hit and forced the truck to pit, putting Riot behind a couple positions.
“We didn’t hit the drive shaft on anything that was centered in the course. It was just bad luck,” Daniel said.
Despite that setback, Daniel drove well. “Josh handled the truck great. He was really smooth. There’s no question the dude can drive,” Poole said.
“I was able to learn a few more things about the truck. Getting more seat time always makes you better,” Daniel said.
Daniel as well was pleased with Poole. “He did a great job. I couldn’t ask for much better. He seemed like he was having a lot of fun,” Daniel said.
Riot finished in the sixth position Sunday, putting Riot in sixth place overall for the race. “That’s a pretty fun finish considering we had one issue each day,” Ewing said.
The team was proud of their drivers. “Marc did great. He drove a conservative race to save the equipment. Josh did a good job too. It would have been a whole different story if it weren’t for the drive shaft,” Sammy Zaranti, lead mechanic said. “It was a good learning experience in different conditions.”
“I’m glad that Best in the Desert has a race like that as miserable and brutal as it is at times. It’s a cool format and it’s fun to go to,” Ewing said.
Many teams really enjoyed the race and the two-day setup. “The teams had a great time and loved it,” Diane DeLauer, coordinator for Best in the Desert said.
The new race came to fruition when Manny Esquerra, an off-road racing legend from Parker who passed away, told Casey Folks about private Native American land that no one knew about, DeLauer explained. Folks took the opportunity and used the land to create the course for the BlueWater Desert Challenge.
“Parker is becoming an off-road mecca,” DeLauer said. “They wanted another race and we wanted to go back down there, so BlueWater welcomed us.”
The race is on the 2011 series calendar.
“The crew came away feeling pretty good about how the truck ran and how the drivers performed and now we’re putting our full focus on the last race of the year,” Harvey Knapp, team manager said.
The final race of the season is the TransWest Ford Henderson 250 on December 3 to 5. With Riot now tied for second place and two teams tied for first in the Best in the Desert points series, the final race will be the determining factor for the championship.
“It’s going to be right down to the last mile of this race. This is probably one of the most interesting scenarios. There’s four trucks who can take it all. Hopefully the cards are in our favor and we hit the royal flush,” Zaranti said.
The entire crew is thrilled to be in the race for the championship. “I’m psyched,” Ewing said. “At the beginning of the year you hope you’re in this position by the end. Every one of these teams who are up there have to finish well to win. It’s going to make for an interesting race.”
Before the season comes to a close in Henderson, Riot will attend the SEMA show for the first time with Riot’s truck on the outdoor Ford display. “It’s definitely really cool to have the truck at SEMA. It shows that what your working on is important enough for everyone else to see,” Zaranti said.
The show runs from Tuesday, November 2 through Friday, November 5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Henderson.
Follow Riot on Twitter and RiotRacing.com as they prepare for the final race of the 2010 season. Fans can watch the BlueWater Desert Challenge teaser video by VitaBrevisFilms. The full race video recap will be coming soon.
- Monday November 1, 2010
- By Riot Racing
Navigating through the wash, the Riot Racing trophy truck was steered with high hopes and a confident driver. With the first 15 miles of the Terrible’s Primm 300 underway, Marc Ewing was just beginning to establish a rhythm for a race the entire crew had been anticipating.
In a sudden turn of events the wheel jerked uncontrollably from the driver’s hands. Within a split second the truck began to barrel roll, flipping over twice and pirouetting on the back bumper before landing on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. It happened so quickly that the driver and co-driver of the #68 had no time to react.
“We came out of a really shallow right hand turn and the next thing I knew we were rolling on the cage instead of the wheels,” Ira Conn, the co-driver said.
“It was a big surprise,” Ewing recalled. “As it happened there was really nothing to do but wait for you to stop rolling.”
After landing on the ground and confirming they were both alright their next objective was to climb out of the truck as quickly as possible.
“Hanging in the five-point harness and smelling a lot of fuel was pretty scary and a real good reason to get out of the truck fast,” Conn said.
“As soon as I pop out the top of the truck I can see a big three inch column of gas pouring out into the desert,” Ewing said.
Conn grabbed the satellite phone from the ditch pack to call for help. Both Conn and Ewing weren’t seriously injured, but Ewing suffered a rib injury and bruised left hand.
Back at the main pit, the crew weren’t aware that the truck had rolled. “Everyone was feeling really confident so it was quite a shock when my iPhone started ringing with the number from our satellite phone,” Harvey Knapp, Riot’s development manager said. “I wasn’t expecting a call from the co-driver.”
Conn explained what had happened to Knapp and said that they were both ok. A SCORE helicopter had landed near the truck and was bringing Ewing back to the main pit so he could get checked out at the hospital. Conn insisted he was not injured, and wanted to stay with the truck to try to flip it right-side up.
“I was convinced we could get the thing back on its wheels,” Conn said.
With a jack, spare tires and an ever-increasing rock pile the guys were able to inch the truck up far enough that they could push it onto its wheels. It was a demanding task in the midday heat, but they were determined to achieve their goal.
“Everybody had put in so much hard work and effort (for this race) the last thing I wanted everybody to see is the truck on its side,” said Mike Lucey, who was a tremendous help.
Finally the truck was pushed upright. Conn’s voice came over the radio, elated for the first time since the rollover. “We got on its wheels!” he exclaimed.
They checked the fluids twice, removed the hydraulic lock on the engine, and were ready to drive it home.
Conn beamed over the radio once more. “The truck is running! We’re headed to the main pit.” Conn hopped in the driver’s seat and Lucey squeezed on Ewing’s gloves and helmet and climbed into the co-driver’s seat.
“The track rod was bent so we were in a struggle between wanting to go fast not to get rear ended and making it to the pit,” Conn said. They ran the track through Beer Bottle Pass and then steered off course for most of the return.
“It was exhilarating,” Lucey said of riding back.
The Riot truck appeared driving along the power lines just outside of the main pit in Primm. The crew began to gather around as the truck approached the Riot tent. Conn and Lucey climbed out of the truck, Lucey jumping and flailing his arms with joy as the guys gave them hi-fives and applauded their efforts.
“It felt great,” Conn said. It was an exciting moment that helped raise the team’s spirit given the circumstances.
“It sucks we went out that early, but it was definitely an accomplishment just getting it back,” Sammy Zaranti, the lead mechanic said.
Not only was everyone pleased that the truck returned, but that the driver and co-driver as well made it out of the experience with minor injuries.
“Marc and I feel super fortunate to both come out of it in tact,” Conn said. “The whole thing was very lucky.”
“Lucky or not it just makes you appreciate all the advances in the safety equipment,” Ewing, who is still recovering from some bruising said.
After rolling three times, the truck was also in rather good shape. “It shows you how well engineered these machines are that you can have such a catastrophic crash and the driver and co-driver walk away with a few minor bruises. Kudos to Rick Geiser for building a great vehicle. The fundamental Geiser design from a safety perspective is about as tough of a product as you could want,” Knapp said.
While relieved that everyone was safe, it was still an unfortunate situation that ended an exciting race day for Riot.
“It’s a lot of effort everyone put into prepping the truck and getting organized,” Ewing said. “It’s a disappointment for sure. It was a local race. We had a bunch of family there. We expected to do pretty well and have a super fun day on familiar territory. Obviously it was not meant to be.”
Still, the team isn’t discouraged. “Unfortunately our day ended early, but it doesn’t detract from our goal to produce high quality race cars,” Zaranti said.
Ewing also feels that the incident hasn’t detracted from his confidence in getting behind the wheel and racing again in Parker.
“The whole thing happened so rapidly and so unexpectedly that there wasn’t much time for me to fix it. It was completely out of my hands. When I get back in the truck when I’m healed hopefully I won’t have any trepidation going into it. It almost feels like it didn’t happen to me,” Ewing said, “but it’s a learning experience.”
The team is going to take their lessons and apply them as they prepare for BlueWater Desert Challenge in Parker, Arizona on October 16 and 17.
“I cant wait to go back out and race some more,” Conn said.
- Tuesday September 21, 2010
- By Riot Racing
With the dust barely settled from its last event, Riot Racing is still in gear and ready for another exciting race. The SCORE International Terrible’s Primm 300 starts at 1 p.m. for the trophy truck class on Saturday, September 11 and consists of four 68-mile laps. About 125 vehicles have entered the race, 31 of which are trophy trucks.
Many of the biggest names in off-road racing will be competing on SCORE’s roughest course. B.J. Baldwin will start third, Cameron Steele 10th, Robby Gordon 14th and Rob MacCachren 19th.
“The competition is going to be as tough as it gets this weekend,” said Ira Conn, co-driver for the #68 Riot trophy truck, which will start 28th. The other race classes will race in another group at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
Despite the competition, Marc Ewing and the Riot team know they have the ability to perform well on their home turf.
“We definitely want to have a strong showing for Primm,” said Sammy Zaranti, lead mechanic on the truck that raced Vegas to Reno and will race again Saturday. “We have the vehicle and the talent.” But the course is challenging. “Primm is a very rough, physical and mental race. There’s a lot of attrition at the end. Hopefully everything stays together.”
In the Best in the Desert series where Riot is currently first in the points, “finishing each race is really critical, which makes you temper your aggression on the course,” Ewing said. “This one you can just go for it.”
Ewing often tests in the Primm/Jean area, which he said will give him an advantage going into this race. “We know a lot of the terrain, and with a little bit of luck we should do well,” Conn said.
Another advantage for Riot is the truck’s large 95-gallon fuel cell which will only require the team to splash gas once. “It’s going to shorten our pit stop because we aren’t waiting for fuel,” Jordan Poole, a Riot mechanic said.
“I have confidence in our team to do its best and get the job done,” Steve Sloan, Riot’s shop manager said.
Contingency and technical inspection will be held on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort. Riot will be there with their new pre-runner and the race truck selling shirts and handing out stickers and posters to fans. On Saturday spectators can watch the race at the grandstand behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort near the start/finish line. SCORE plans to have unofficial race results posted at 9 p.m. Saturday evening. The awards ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday in the Terrible’s Primm Valley Resort conference center.
Throughout the race on Saturday fans can track Riot’s progress on http://www.riotracing.com through the IRC and IonEarth tracking. The latest updates on the race vehicle will be available on Riot’s twitter, http://twitter.com/riotracing. Watch the truck and crew in action as Ewing strives for another strong finish in this 2010 season. Keep an eye out for Riot’s post-race video by VitaBrevisFilms. Riot Racing thanks its sponsors Vision X, F&L Racing Fuel, Pole Position Raceway and Geiser Bros for all of their support.
- Wednesday September 8, 2010
- By Riot Racing