Despite plenty of drama, rule and route changes and other challenges in the final weeks and days before the race, the BlueWater Resort Parker 425 presented by Jimco was run Jan. 15 and 16. The race was run even in the middle of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and this was seen in all the coronavirus mitigation regulations from the Bureau of Land Management.
Best in the Desert Racing Association, the organizers and promoters of the race, said they overcame many obstacles and “jumped through a lot of hoops” in order to run the race.
The field was smaller than it has been in recent years. According to BITD’s unofficial results, there were just 118 entries. Attrition was high as 45 vehicles did not finish the race. These included 11 of 24 two-lap entrants, 19 of 50 three-lap entrants on Friday, and 15 of 44 entries on Saturday.
The big news on the course was one team won their classes on both days. On Saturday, Jan. 15, the crew of Harley Letner of Corona, Calif.; Kevin Thompson of New Braunfels, Texas; Brent Bauman of Tustin, Calif.; and Beau Morton of Corona, Calif. placed first in the two-lap 8100 Sportsman class. They ran in a Herbst Smith and had a two-lap time of 4:09:02.191. They also placed first among all the two-lap class vehicles.
The next day, the same crew took things to a much higher level when they ran No. 1, also a Herbst Smith, to first place in the fastest class in Best in the Desert, the Trick Trucks. Their three-lap time, which was the best of any of the three-lap vehicles, was 5:35:27.383.
Among the three-lap classes on Friday, Wheeler Morgan of Brawley, Calif., placed first in No. 1024, a Raceco. His time was 5:53:38.747.
Coming in second was another 1000-class vehicle, No. 1042. It was an Alumi Craft driven by Andrew and Andy Yurcho of Fullerton, Calif. Their time on the course was 6:09:03.502.
The 1000-class won the top three spots in the three lap classes on Friday as Brad Jeffers and Dennis Carrillo placed third in No. 1069, an Alumi Craft. Their time was 6:18:36.090.
In the two-lap classes on Friday, the 8100 class took all three top spots. Following 8170, No. 8144 placed second with a time of 4:36:18.157. It was a Penhall Fabrication driven by Mike Reardon and Steve Restivo of Yorba Linda, Calif.; Kevin Reardon of Anaheim Hills, Calif. and Patrick Reardon of Placentia, Calif.
Coming in third among the two-lap classes was No. 8119, a Custom driven by Tim Herbst, Thor Herbst, and Pierce Herbst of Huntington Beach, Calif.
The Trick Trucks took all three of the top spots on Saturday. After No. 1, the second Trick Truck to cross the finish line was No. 24, which was driven by Adam Householder of Yorba Linda, Calif. and Trevor Effingham of Las Vegas, Nev. The truck was a Ford and their time was 5:40:55.176.
Placing third on Saturday was another Trick Truck, No. 127. It was driven by Kyle Jergensen of Murrieta, Calif. and Shawn Shanks of Temecula, Calif. A Brethel Ind, their time was 5:52:42.661.
Several drivers from Parker, La Paz County and Lake Havasu City won their classes. They included the following:
1104- Rick Madison, Parker, Ariz.; Volkswagen; 7:55:35.455.
1776- Steve Palmieri, Aaron Ada, Dakota Steffen, and John Gibbs, all of Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Jeep; 6:01.07.616.
2088- Zane Strong, Palm Desert, Calif.; Mark Strong, Cathedral City, Calif.; and Daniel Clark, Parker, Ariz.; Jimco; 8:50:07.422.
4503- Josh Mann, Howard Allen, Jake Mann, and Mitch Mann, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; Ford; 6:03:46.320.
4724- Rob Seubert, Colton, Ore. and Dustin Hoffman, Parker, Ariz.; Dodge; 6:37:23.782. Fuel Safe, Advantage Steering, Vest Racing, Seubert Machining, Apex Anodizing.
7281- Randy Merritt, R.J. Merritt, Jake Larson, and Chris Golding, Parker, Ariz.; Ford; 6:44:05.174. A&B Auto, LBJ, J-Lopez.
The race was run differently from how it had been run in years past. There was no start in downtown Parker because the Colorado River Indian Tribes cancelled the portions of the race that would’ve been on Tribal land. To reach the course from downtown Parker would’ve meant traversing Tribal land.
This also meant the main pit area and the Parker Python, both of which are popular spectating and camping spots, could not be used. They are also on Tribal land.
CRIT cancelled their portions of the race due to concerns over the pandemic. Masks are required in all public areas on Tribal land. There is also a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for residents of the CRIT reservation, gatherings of six or more people are prohibited unless they’re all from the same household, and unnecessary travel has been banned.
The BlueWater Resort & Casino, a Tribal enterprise, is open on a limited basis, and all special events have been cancelled until further notice. This meant contingency and technical inspection were held in downtown Parker during the Downtown Experience, a street fair prior to the race. The finish line also could not be at the BlueWater
The race was held completely on land held by the Bureau of Land Management. The start and finish line were located on Shea Road close to where the start of the old Parker 400 had been. The main pit area was in this location as well.
The race was actually less than 425 miles. BITD estimated the actual length was closer to 400 miles.
The BLM had many conditions to holding the race, including mask and social distancing requirements. They initially told BITD they wanted them to charge for spectating and camping, but they later changed their minds and spectating at the races was free, as it has always been.