Freitas wins General Tire Vegas to Reno showdown
It was hot. It was dusty. It was the longest and most grueling off-road race in the US. It was the 2012 General Tire Vegas to Reno race and it was a spectacular day for Team GT as up-and-comer Garrick Freitas took home both the overall and Class 1500 wins, marking back-to-back class wins for the Tulare, CA-native. Freitas came from the 24th starting position to conquer the 534-mile course in 9:01:20 on his 35” General Grabber tires.
“I was patient in the dust and waited to capitalize on other people's mistakes to get around them,” said Freitas in a post-race interview. “The first 300 miles was spent chasing dust and making our way through traffic. From mile 300 to the finish, we finally got into clean air and let it all hang out!”
“That was an awesome job by Garrick and his entire team,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for General Tire. “The General Tire Vegas to Reno race is the toughest off-road race in the US and for Team GT to take the overall win along with six class wins really speaks to the technology and durability of our tires. Garrick won on the same tires that people can buy off the shelves of their local tire dealer, that’s outstanding! We’re proud of all our teams!”
Patience and experience helped Freitas drive the entire 534-mile route filled with sharp rocks, un-even terrain, gullies, and extreme dust. With the help of co-drivers Trevor Freitas and Steve Shahan, Freitas beat out 327 of the best off-road racers in the world. Including Team GT members Rick D. Johnson, who finished sixth overall and second in the 1400 Class, and Jason Voss, who finished seventh overall and third in the 1400 Class. An amazing feat for the 25-year-old who compares the importance of the Vegas to Reno race in the off-road world to the importance of the Indianapolis 500 in the open wheel world.
“Year after year this race brings out the best-of-the-best in off-road race teams to compete in the longest and toughest off-road race in the United States,” exclaimed Freitas. “Having said all that, it gives me goose bumps to say that we just overalled the race. It is truly a very humbling experience. My General Grabbers were awesome today and my team gave me the best car out there. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Following a move to the 6100 Class, Jerry Zaiden and Jerry Whelchel posted their first win of the 2012 season crossing the line in 10:37:51 in the Camburg Racing/Monster Energy truck. The Best in the Desert (BITD) regulars were confident heading into the race and were able to confront the demons of the desert with poise and determination. A powerful combination that saw the Camburg Racing team cross the line more than 2.5-hours ahead of second-place finishers, and Team GT members, Jim Riley and Rick L. Johnson, all on General’s signature red letter Grabber’s.
“Winning the General Tire Vegas to Reno race is a great accomplishment especially since we are new to the class and had a lot of unknowns with a new engine, new rules, etc.,” said veteran-driver Whelchel. “We had a crate engine from GM Performance Products and it ran flawlessly all day. Overcoming the dust was the biggest obstacle. We had a highly-competitive truck all day and our performance shows that.”
Zaiden added to Whelchel’s comments by saying, “To win the longest race in the US is just awesome. I think we went out there and made a statement. Our performance speaks volumes to the quality of products we are using on our truck. To take over-the-counter parts and charge through the field and win our class is a huge testament to the products we use and represent like Camburg suspension, General tires, KMC wheels, FOX shocks, and Eibach springs.”
Team GT also logged wins in Class 7200 with Randy Merritt and TrophyLites Class 6000 with Troy Messer behind the wheel. In the JeepSpeed category, Michael Vernak knocked down a win in the 1700 Class and Dan Simonsen tasted the sweet smell of victory in the 3700 Class…all on General Tires.