MESA, AZ MARCH, 7 2013 With 4 cars on course between Friday’s 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers and Thursdays Smittybilt Every Man Challenge, LetzRoll Offroad race team was busy with every aspect of the race week. Andrew McLaughlin, driver of Ultra4 #4493 and owner of LetzRoll Offroad, finished 18th at the esteemed 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers giving them an automatic entry into the 2014 race. All three of the Smittybilt Everyman Challenge drivers didn’t make it to the finish line, but each have a story behind their hearty efforts including Alan Johnson #4511, Shawn Passmore #4669 and Matt Salyers #4634. “There is no doubt it was a challenging week with all four cars racing, but we all pulled together as a team to help each other accomplish projects and get to the starting line,” said Andrew McLaughlin about the team he formed. “The Saturday morning after the race was bittersweet. We had just finished the hardest race ever and we had to pack up and leave. When I looked around there wasn’t one person that didn’t have a smile on their face. Everyone was happy and pumped about the whole experience. It was a great ending to a great week.”
The black and yellow #4493 ESAB N.A. / Yukon Gear and Axle car driven by Andrew McLaughlin and co-driver Ryan Frost started the week at qualifying with a smooth and steady pace. They created no car issues so it wasn’t a bad plan, but it also yielded them a 89th starting position. “The 3 days of pre-running paid off in the first desert section as we knew our lines and knew we could really make up some time,” said Andrew. “That is until we got in some thick dust and ended up hitting a 4 foot rock with the driver front tire. It blew up the Raceline Wheel and Goodyear Tire but luckily the front end stayed together.” They changed the tire quickly and were running again until they hit the parking lot on Wrecking Ball. “There was a roll about 10 cars up ahead of us and we were stuck for 45 minutes. It gave us a chance to re-group and adjust our plans for a finish.” They made it through Wrecking Ball and all the other trails with little to no difficulty. “The last 10 miles of racing in the dark were the most memorable. We knew we were close to making the top 20 and I really, really wanted the top 20 to prove that we weren’t just another team, but that we could race at this level. We turned it up and battled back and forth with Jason Scherer. When it is dark you don’t know who’s lights are where, you just keep chasing your own,” finished Andrew. The whole LetzRoll Team was at the finish line when the Yellow and Black car rolled across the line taking an official 18th finishing spot and pre-qualifying them for the 2014 King of the Hammers. Watch a spotlight video on Andrew McLaughlin: http://youtu.be/u2bk3yizuYE
The red and silver modified stock #4511 Pit Bull Tire / HigherGround4x4 car, driven by Alan Johnson and Geoff Larson, racing the Smittybilt Everyman Challenge for the second year confirmed it as “an amazing combination of harsh desert and crazy big rocks mixed together with sand hills, dust and adrenaline,” said Alan. “We did not have a single tire issue all day and we were very fast in the desert, not like a Trophy Truck, but fast. We drew a bummer starting position on the 14th row of the Modified Class, so we knew we would have to deal with a lot of dust and make lots of passes in the desert to not get stuck behind everyone in the rock sections.” They made it to the sand hill, which seemed to be a battle for every driver. “We made it half way up the sand hill, but then decided that we could crawl the rock line easier. Which we did with 3 wheels when we realized that our lockers weren’t working, and continued onto the end of lap 1 where we pulled into the pits to get them fixed. While under the car we saw the bolts had been broken off the motor mounts, so we quickly moved to the Miller Welding station and the pros welded the motor mount to the frame and we were off racing again and to the next trail fix that include Geoff making a 30amp blown fuse work out of bailing wire!” As they continued they went through Pit 2 and then into Fissure Mountain, Jack Hammer, Chocolate Thunder, Wrecking Ball and Clawhammer, some which they had never laid eyes on before. “We intentionally did not look at clocks but ran as fast and as hard as we could the entire time,” explains Alan. “At the bottom of Clawhammer there was a course worker waiving us off and saying the race was over…it was past 5pm. They quit on use before we quit on them. The #4511 was still running strong.” They bettered their performance from 2012 and laid a solid foundation for the 2013 racing season. Car intact and running strong, the 2013 EMC was a huge success for the #4511 and LetzRoll Offroad Racing. Watch a spotlight video on Alan Johnson: http://youtu.be/s7nYiC6WZ7Y
The green and silver stock class #4669 Rock Krawler Suspension / Yukon Gear and Axle car, driven by Shawn Passmore and Mike Bradley, had high hopes for this years battle against the desert. “After last years 4th place finish we had dreams of a podium finish, while the thought of 40 extra miles reminded me that we had to keep the jeep together,” said Shawn. Most of the bigger challenges came during pre-running when the front axle shaft let loose. “The spare parts were at home and no one on the lakebed had a Wagoneer Dana44 chromoly shaft available. But while talking to vendors we ran into John Currie from Currie Enterprises and he had us call his shop so they could make us a shaft! Huge thanks go out to the Currie guys for stopping what they were doing just to get us racing again.” Finally come race day, “we put our Rock Krawler Suspension and Goodyear Tires on Raceline Wheels to work in those big whoops, consciously holding back to preserve our Jeep while competitors passed us, only to pass them on the side of the trail a couple miles down.” They made it to pit 1 for a minor fix on a high pressure steering line, and they go back out. “As we got close to the sand hill at RM48 we got a rattling clunk noise from the rear end. Thinking it’s just a driveshaft, we start ripping into it only to find that it is actually the rear pinion. It is decided that if we make it to main pit, that they will fix it and we will be racing again, which starts our 6 miles of winching, a true testament to WARN Winch and Optima batteries!” Mike did an amazing job pulling cable but when the crew evaluated it at the main pit, it wasn’t just a ring gear it was the pinion that was letting go. “Having raced all last season on the gears I couldn’t have asked any more out of them. It was determined that our race was at it’s end and as much as we wanted to continue onto the rocks it just wasn’t in the cards this year.” Watch a spotlight video on Shawn Passmore:http://youtu.be/Kpmk64iKVNQ
New to the LetzRoll Offroad team for 2013 is the stock class red and silver #4634 Team M.A.D / AZ Cherokee Club XJ, driven by Matt Salyers and his brother, Adam Salyers. “I wrote a 7 page essay on the entire event, from getting there until the time I got home. But to sum it up into one word?…Epic!” chuckled Matt. “My deployment helped set the build in motion; my sponsors enabled me to show up to the staring line with a purpose built Jeep Cherokee. Within hours of being on the lakebed my brother and I took the Cherokee and went to Chocolate Thunder where I put the car in 4lo and up and over the gate keeper we went with on lookers cheering as a full bodied Cherokee made it look easy. We were jazzed with how quickly and easily we went up the trail. It was just a couple years prior we were watching the cars go up that same trail and we both said ‘one day we’re going to do those trails’ and there we were conquering it!” Pre-running offered them lots of exciting adventures, finally making it to race day, with adjustments to the radio happening as they were rolling to the starting line. “We were in the short course area waiting our turn to go, and I remember my heart racing and my hands sweating. Dave Cole to my left counted down from five and as he hit one the green flad dropped and my brother said calmly, ‘get it.’”. While in the monster whoops around RM6 they started getting some funny play in the steering and by RM7 they were already pulled off to the side. “We began looking at the steering, checked jam nuts, checked wheels and then I saw it and instantly became filled with emotion, we had a crack in a track bar bracket below the frame rails. We ratched strapped it together and started limped the car to main pit where LetzRoll had a welder and material to fix it. But things didn’t get better. Our naturally hot 4.0 motor temps began to climb, and then the track bar bracket broke in half completely. After resetting the strap and cooling the car a couple times, we saw smoke at RM23 and after quickly pulling over we found engine oil down the side of the motor. We weren’t ready for the bitter sweet reality that not everyone finishes the Everyman Challenge.” They decided to call the race vs blowing up an engine or burning the car down. “I was upset, disappointed, angry and felt like I let down my great sponsors and the people who supported us. With me being in the Military, failure is not something we are trained for so I didn’t know how to cope with that at the time. We just sat in the Johnson Valley desert for an hour not saying a word.” Watch a spotlight video on Matt Salyers:http://youtu.be/JyyDkiDu9xo
“I am so proud of the entire team,” said Andrew McLaughlin, #4493 driver of record and owner of LetzRoll Offroad. “The variety of people that we have on the team; all different backgrounds, all different skill sets… that’s what makes us unique. We’re really strategic with racing, but when everybody comes together it’s a 100% solid team. Adding the two other classes not only brought more people to the sport… more friends to the sport…but also brought more challenges and more rewards. We continue to step up the level of the #4493 and we improve with every race. We started 2013 pushing 500hp in the car and it is supported with Artec and Yukon products that can handle the new power. The ADS Shocks have made all the difference in the world at race speed in how it handles the desert.” To learn more about the entire LetzRoll Offroad Racing team watch the 2013 team preview: http://youtu.be/9MqddDE0RrE
None of this would have been possible without the commitment and quality of their sponsors and partners. Yukon Gear and Axle has provided a strong foundation for harsh endurance racing and all four teams have had tremendous success with Yukon’s gears, axle shafts, lockers, and hubs. With the constant abuse of rock racing, it is essential to trust your equipment. Yukon is unbelievable. Thank you to Artecindustries for their support and superior products. Andrew, Shawn, and Matt race Goodyear tires and have had zero tire issues the entire race season. Strong, dependable, and versatile, Goodyear is the tire of choice for LetzRoll Offroad racing. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you also to PSC steering, ESAB N.A., Ballistic Fabrication, and the extremely rugged and dependable Raceline wheels… as tough as Andrew is on trees and axle shaft tubes, his Raceline Wheels have taken the abuse and more! Special personal acknowledgement of Charlene Bower of Bower Motorsports Media for her contribution, coaching, and support of the race teams, as well as Shelley and Big Rich at W.E.Rock / Dirt Riot for their tireless commitment to our sport.
LetzRoll Offroad Racing would also like to acknowledge the Arizona Undertakers and others for their contribution in the pits, in the shop, and on the trail.
Andrew McLaughlin #4493 Unlimited team: Andrew finished the 2012 season 3rd Nationally in the Dirt Riot Endurance Racing Series earning an automatic spot into the 2013 King of the Hammers. He finished 18th at the 2013 King of the Hammers, earning an automatic spot into 2014 race, which will be his 4th King of the Hammers that he will have competed in. In 2013 we will see this team at the Southwest, Mountain and National Dirt Riot Races, Ultra4 Glen Helen and National and a select Arizona Desert Racing Association races. Since the age of 16, Andrew McLaughlin knew he was meant for wheeling. After attending ASU while serving in the military, Andrew graduated and worked in the corporate world for 7 years until his passion for off-roading got the best of him. Andrew started LetzRoll Offroad in 2008 as a part time business through the Internet. In 2010, he left corporate America and followed his dreams of owning his own business and opened LetzRoll Offroad in Mesa, AZ. (www.letzrolloffroad.com). With the support and encouragement of his wife plus a growing group of loyal customers requesting custom fabrication and installation, Andrew made the move into a full time custom shop. Today LetzRoll Offroad has 3 full time employees who are all active wheelers. The move to the Ultra4 and Dirt Riot series was a natural fit for their experience in both rocks and desert.
Alan Johnson #4511 Pro/Mod team: In 2012, they accomplished becoming the Mod Stock Dirt Riot National Champion and have successfully started and raced the 2012 and 2013 Smittybilt Everyman Challenge race at the King of the Hammers. Team LetzRoll Offroad’s modified stock entry hails from Phoenix, AZ. Alan Johnson and Geoff “Rockslapper” Larson are true “Everymen” who work regular jobs during the week so they can build their rigs and crawl the Arizona desert on the weekend. Alan is an executive at Mercer Advisors (www.merceradvisors.com) and Geoff is a top notch body man at Dale’s Auto Collision. With the support of HigherGround4x4.com this is Johnson and Larson’s second race season and they are honored to be a part of LetzRoll Offroad Racing. Starting as a “40th birthday present” event (to race in the 2012 Smittybuilt Everyman Challenge), the adrenaline of racing and the relationships built while building the car have caused an addiction that can only be met by the Ultra4 and Dirt Riot racing season.
Shawn Passmore #4669 Stock class team: In 2012, they competed in the 2012 Everyman Challenge and took 4th place and in 2013 he competed but did not finish. They ran the Dirt Riot Season taking the Southwest Series Stock Class Win and the esteemed National Title. Shawn Passmore has been a wheeler for the last 20 years, starting with a 1979 CJ5 then moving to a 98 TJ that has wheeled everything from back roads to 4.5 trails all over AZ. “My family enjoys the outdoors as much as I do and we have continued the long standing traditions that I was raised with such as tread lightly and respect the land/other users just like they were family. I was born is AZ and have raised my child here because of the many opportunities to ‘get away from it all’ that we enjoy so much.” Co-Driver Mike Bradley has joined the team for 2013 and is excited to be a part of the national championship team. Both Shawn and Mike reside in Mesa, AZ.
Matt Salyers #4634 Stock class team: 2013 is the initial year of racing where they have already competed in the 2013 Everyman Challenge, a Arizona Desert Racing Association race and is committed to running the Dirt Riot Southwest Series. Matt is active military serving in the Air Force, based in Phoenix, AZ. Matt and co-driver and brother Adam, and their father have been building the car off and on during deployments in 2012. “Team M.A.D” are a family based team founded on a dream that became a reality. Matt’s mom helps in the form of motivation and recording video and Matt’s amazing wife supports him and even helps work on the jeep. Matt and his family reside in Surprise, AZ.