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By: Robert Janis

An Anatomy of a Victory
Teixeira, Hunter Win Vegas to Reno 2007

We all like to live vicariously through the success of others. Parents do it through their children, siblings do it through other siblings, sports fans do it through their favorite pro players, and ATV enthusiasts do it through ATV racers.

So, for these people who live through the success of others, what is it like to win the Vegas to Reno race produced by Best in the Desert?

Let’s follow the exploits of Ed Teixeira and Todd Hunter, the winners of this year’s Expert class of ATV racers.

Preparing a Plan
Racers who are experienced with winning understand that you can’t just wing it during the race. You need to plan things out. In the case of Ed Teixeira and Todd Hunter, preparation for the Vegas to Reno began when they built a whole new quad pretty much from the ground up. The subject of the enhancements was a 2005 factory Honda TRX450R. According to Teixeira, this particular ATV was chosen because of its known reliability and his company, Teixeira Technologies, had just wrapped up an array of performance parts earlier this year. “We decided to run the Honda TRX450R for business reasons,” he said. “We were running a Honda TRX250R with a KTM 525 motor in it. However,  my company doesn’t make any parts for that bike for sale on the market. What better place to test the durability of these new suspension components, for example, than in the longest off-road race in the USA.”

The 450R was torn down all the way to the frame. Major stress points of the frame were fortified and gusted with a kit that Teixeira Technologies sells. In addition, new a-arms the company had just finished testing were included along with new linkage and a 2-inch taller steerage stem which has a little bit more of a forward position than the factory steerage stem.

Next, it was decided that the team would consist of two racers, Hunter and Teixeira. Teixeira pointed out that Best in the Desert allows teams to include up to three racers. Teixeira and Hunter decided that two would be sufficient. This was the first race that Teixeira and Hunter had partnered.

Next it was time for Hunter and Teixeira to sit down and plan things out with their pit crews. “My usual pit crew couldn’t participate in this race,” said Teixeira. “So, I recruited my fiancée, Tina, who is normally the captain of my pit crews, as well as some buddies who work for the company who haven’t worked a race before. Todd Hunter, my racing partner for this race, brought his own pit crew led by Mark Bunderson.”

A couple of days before the race Teixeira met with his pit crew. “We went over the quad and made sure that everything was right. Then I gave them directions on what they needed to do. It wasn’t very intense because these guys are pretty mechanically inclined. They knew what they were doing.”

Each pit crew had their own pickup. Teixeira pointed out that it would be impossible for a pit crew to work the race with just one pickup. “The pit crews drive along the freeway to get to the pit locations,” said Teixeira. “It’s impossible for a pit crew to meet the racers pit stop to pit stop with just one truck. You really need two.” It so happened that Hunter and Teixeira had their own pickups for their own pit crews.

As with most desert races of this kind, it was decided that the pit crews would “leap frog” to each pit location. One truck would handle pit stops 1, 3, 5, etc.  The other would work pit stops 2, 4, 6, etc. Occasionally, there would be enough time for both trucks to work together at one pit.

Each truck carried a full set of extra tires as well as an air filter. Teixeira’s truck carried an axle, extra a-arms, linkage and Trail Tech lights in case the race finished in darkness. Moreover, each truck had goggles and goggle cleaner, their own set of tools, and an equal amount of gas. It was planned out that each truck could work independently unless there was a major breakdown. Some pit crews carry an exact copy of the ATV that is being raced so that in an emergency, parts could be scavenged off that bike to replace parts that were damaged on the race bike. Teixeira and Hunter did not carry a spare 450R. “We didn’t have an exact replica of the 450R we were racing,” pointed out Teixeira. “We only had stock quads or quads that were completely different. Anyway, we figured that if we blew an engine, we would probably be out of the race because it would take too much time to replace the engine.”

The team arrived at the race site the Thursday before the event.  Thursday was Tech Day or Contingency Day, and racers also had to register on that day. Officials sponsoring the race checked each quad to make certain that rules were followed and the race vehicles were safe to ride. Racers were not allowed to test run the course.  Instead, a pre-fun run day was held two or three weeks before the race to give racers an opportunity to become familiar with the course. Teixeira and Hunter did not attend pre-fun run day. Both felt that they were familiar enough with the course. Teixeira had run in several Vegas to Reno races since 2001, and Hunter had run many of these races as well.

The Race
Teixeira’s pit crew captain, Tina, has been serving on his pit crew for many years. She has learned how to scope the pit locations to discover where her racing team is situated in the race. So, she has a pretty good idea during the contest about where in the overall scheme of things Teixeira and Hunter were positioned. She takes notes during the race to document it.

Teixeira was the first to ride. Out of 17 quads that participated, the Teixeira-Hunter team started in the 12th position. For those of you who are not familiar with this type of race, one ATV starts the run every 30 seconds. At the end of the race, the time is corrected to account for this.

“The first section was really dusty, really rocky and slow,” remembered Teixeira. “I was cautious at the start. I focused on maintaining a pace that would assure that I wasn’t getting passed.” Based on Tina’s observations, Teixeira passed four competitors on the way to pit one and came to the pit in 8th place about two minutes behind the 7th place racer. “When I reached pit one, there were no problems. I didn’t need gas. I didn’t need to stop. So I blew through.”

He maintained his 8th place position on the way to pit two and was now one minute behind the 7th place racer. He stopped at pit two so that Hunter could take over the ride and for the ATV to be gassed up.

Hunter ran a flawless ride through pit three and handed the quad over to Teixeira after passing four competitors when he stopped at pit four. The team was now in 4th place about six minutes behind the 3rd place racer.

Teixeira rode on to pit five losing a position and passed the quad on to Hunter. The team was now in 5th place about two minutes behind fourth.

Hunter rode another flawless section passing one competitor and turning the quad over to Teixeira at pit seven. The team was now in 4th place about five minutes behind the third place racer.

Steadily the team of Teixeira and Hunter moved forward in the standings as Teixeira passed another rider prior to reaching pit eight and moved on to pit nine where he handed the Honda back over to Hunter. They were now in third place about two minutes behind second.

Hunter roared into pit 10 after passing still another racer and the team found themselves in second place. Teixeira had been complaining for most of the race that he was experiencing vibration at high speeds so it was decided to go ahead and change the rear tires when Hunter stopped at pit 10. Although achieved rapidly, the tire change took enough time for the team to lose a position, and now they were in third.

Teixeira took the quad next and soon passed a competitor to regain second place and Hunter again took over at pit 11. Hunter now controlled the ride all the way to pit 14. Now the team was in second just one minute behind first. It was starting to get dark so the Teixeira Tech pit crew mounted the Trail Tech lights to the quad at pit 14 to assure better vision and did the work in only about 30 seconds. The team was now in first place, and Teixeira got onboard the quad to take it to the finish.

Teixeira crossed the finish line winning the race in their class with a time of 12:28:39 two minutes ahead of the second place finisher. The time was good enough to finish third overall.

The overall strategy had worked. Teixeira decided it would be best not to push things until about pit 10. “It was after pit 10 that we really started to pick it up,” said Teixeira.  “The race doesn’t really start until half way through or even three-quarters of the way through. You ride just to survive until the three-quarter mark. By then half of the quads are DNF (Did Not Finish). Less than half of the quads finished the race.” This strategy was built out of years of experience running the Vegas to Reno. “A lot of the racers were experienced at racing, but not experienced at running a race this long,” concluded Teixeira.

Sponsors of the Teixeira/Hunter team include CT Racing, Cardio Stack, Carmichael Honda, DWT, Dirt Tricks (Ironman Sprockets), Fox Shox, Fuel Customs, F2Racing, Galfer, Graves Motorsports, HardKor, Hinson, IMS, Klotz, Maier, Maxxis, Moose, Oury Grip, Precision-RP, Pro Armor, RPM, Regina, SCR Graphics, Scott, Sunoco Race Fuels, Teixeira Tech Racing, Terry Cable, Tire Balls, Trail Tech, T & M Lawn Maintenance, Wiseco, Uni, and Universal.

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