Laughlin, NV - The Sopwith Motorsports/Sigal Racing JeepSpeed Cherokee ran nearly 200 miles of testing last week in preparation for the Best in the Desert's Henderson Fabtech Desert Classic off road race on December 6th, and the results were excellent.
The two-day session began on a short, 2-mile loop where driver Stephen Cox logged his first laps in desert racing under the guidance of veterans Sigal Greenberg and Lee Creiglow. Cox has 18 seasons of driving experience but has never competed in a desert race. Other than a minor leak in the power steering system, the day went smoothly and Cox got up to speed after only a few laps.
The second day of testing began on a much larger, 10-mile course with a wide array of whoops, silt, and elevation changes. Off road racer and chassis builder Rich Boyett helped choose the test course and rode with Cox to get him up to race speeds.
"The truck isn't going to go any faster," Boyett said after the session. "There are a few guys who will run at that pace, but if (Cox) can maintain that speed throughout the day and not break the truck, he'll finish first or second. He never got out of shape and kept the truck straight all day."
Crew chief Lee Creiglow, who will also co-drive with Cox at the Henderson race, made it clear early in the session that "If we're going to break the truck, let's do it here." After nearly 200 miles of hard driving the truck sustained some light damage including a cracked front yoke and a faulty fuel pump, but finished the day running strong.
Cox said "I was really comfortable in the truck. We got up to speed with no problem and I think we've got a fighting chance at Henderson now. Even when the rear shocks heated up we could run race speeds comfortably, and Lee said he would actually need to slow me down a little on race day, so that's good news. I owe a big thanks to Sigal, Lee, Rich and everyone for setting up the test. The team will go through the truck bolt by bolt over the next week or two and I think we'll be ready for a solid run at Henderson." As host and executive producer of the Best in the Desert television series, Stephen will pull triple duty when he also drives the Henderson race.