John Swift and Steve Olliges knew that competition would be tough for the 2011 Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno race when over 250 drivers tossed their hat in the ring. The entry list for the longest desert race in America included 27 competitors in the marquee Trick Truck class, all vying with the No. 28 BFGoodrich / MasterCraft Safety truck of Swift and Olliges. The event started with tech and contingency, where the biggest buzz was not about their unlimited Trick Truck, but Olliges’ beautiful ’79 Ford F150 that will be campaigned in Best In The Desert’s Class 8 starting at the Bluewater Desert Challenge in October. “The truck really resonates with people, young and old, who appreciate desert racing’s rich heritage,” Olliges noted.
Swift and Olliges qualified 37th for Vegas to Reno, demonstrating that the present day competition is blistering fast. In order to finish well in the 549-mile race across the harsh Nevada desert, Swift and Olliges would have to run a nearly flawless race; and when the green flag dropped that is just what they did. Steve Olliges set a fast pace from the start with Jason Bateman navigating. An electrical issue was addressed early on by their expert pit crew, and Steve handed off the truck to Jonathan Swift and Daniel Llewelyn who opened up the new Dougan Racing Ford engine to turn the 39-inch BFGoodrich Project tires as fast as possible, taking turns picking off competitors and marching forward in the crowded field.
Jonathan’s father John Swift finished the race with his daughter Lauren navigating. After ten hours of racing, less than twenty minutes separated the No. 28 BFGoodrich / MasterCraft Safety truck from the winner, resulting in the 5th place overall and 3rd amongst 27 Trick Trucks. The strong finish catapulted Swift and Olliges forward in season points from 9th all the way up to 3rd place in class with two more races remaining this season. “Fox spent the time to tune our 4.4-inch bypass shocks specifically for this terrain, which were a huge factor in our success,” Steve Olliges commented after the race. “The shocks performed just as well at Mile 549 as they did at Mile 1.”
The next race for the Swift/Olliges team is Best in the Desert’s Bluewater Desert Challenge on October 14-16 in Parker, Arizona. In the meantime Steve Olliges is busy running Team Ford, the No. 1 volume Ford dealer in Las Vegas for the past four years. Team Ford has a strong commitment to the desert racing community, including selling more Ford SVT Raptors than any other dealership in the country and stepping up as the title sponsor for JD Film’s new Dezert People 9 film.
Steve Olliges last won BITD’s Trick Truck championship in 2007 with his good friend Wayne Lugo. Steve has over 30 class wins and seven series championships to his credit in the Best in the Desert and SCORE International racing series. In 2000, Olliges partnered up with fellow Rough Rider Rob MacCachren to win the Best in the Desert Series championship in a class 7S Ford Ranger Edge. What began as a one year agreement to race Ford’s newly launched Ranger evolved into a five year partnership culminating in three championship titles. The two teamed up again to race the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor in 2009, showcasing Ford’s factory-built desert truck. Steve has been loyal to Ford throughout his entire racing career, and owns and operates the highly successful Team Ford dealership in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information please visit www.teamford.com.
About John Swift:
John Swift was introduced to the excitement of desert racing by his father Ray back in the ’60s when the sport was in its infancy. By 1984 John was already in the seat of his own race truck and well on his way to success. John’s weapon of choice was the Ford Ranger platform, which he used to win both the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 in Class 7 in 1989. John Swift’s success continued as he piloted his Ranger to another Baja 500 win in 1991, the year he joined the Ford Rough Riders. John claimed three successive Class 6 titles for Ford piloting his iconic Ford Explorer, making him the winningest driver for the Ford Rough Riders factory program. For more information about the Swift Racing legacy please visit www.swiftrace.com.
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