This past 4th of July weekend, the 2022 edition of the MORE GG Lighting Freedom Cup at Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California took place, and I was racing with Clinical Racing. This was the third stop of the season and one race that was different than the traditional desert races on the schedule.
The race was also part of the Steel Cab Series, which is a series specifically for Class 2000 and 1450. The series goal is to help the true grassroots racers at races by offering pit support, race logistics, increased racer payback, and incentives; they are racers helping racers.
Traditional desert races allow spectators to see a vehicle pass by once or, depending on the race and lap distance, anywhere from 30 to 100 miles. MORE’s race at Glen Helen Raceway brings desert racing to a 4.5-mile grand-prix-style course that utilizes the short course, motocross course, and back hills around the track.
The race brought out more than 100 racers, and I was one of them; I would be racing my 2005 GMC Canyon in Class 2000. Class 2000 is a sportsman’s class that requires the vehicle to have leaf springs, a steel cab and a factory frame.
With an action-packed weekend and racing happening all three days, our weekend wouldn’t start until Saturday morning.
MORE races usually have a random draw for starting position, but the race at Glen Helen would give every class and driver the option to qualify for starting position. We suited up and headed to the line to qualify; we would be given one unguided site lap and then our timed qualifying lap.
I raced this same race last year, so I was somewhat familiar with the general layout of the track, but in the traditional MORE style, there would be some changes. On the sight lap, I got a feel for the changes on the track and the ones my team and I had done to the truck.
The course had a mix of everything, from long high-speed straights to tight turns and plenty of jumps. At the end of qualifying, I put down a lap time of 7:08, which positioned us starting fifth.
After qualifying, I had six hours before I needed to be back in the truck. We washed the truck to remove all the mud and then parked in the shade. Last year’s race was a learning experience for my team, and this year, we brought plenty of fans and shade to keep us cool in the 100-degree weather.
When race time came, we took off the line in the third pair, side by side with No. 2021, Rich Henry. For this race, I had my best friend Kyle Barber in the co-driver seat and my usual co-driver, Tyler Francis, in the stands in the short-course section, helping pick the right lines.
I beat Henry off the line and started pushing through the race course. During the first few laps, I began understanding the course and how the truck was handling the course.
Lap times continued to get faster as I continued to push each lap, with the team’s help guiding me. Around lap three, I passed a truck in our class that was having transmission problems and struggling to get up a hill.
Kyle and I were having a great time in the truck; it was something we had talked about doing together since high school. We lost track of what lap we were on, but we came across the finish line and were given the white flag, which signified one more lap.
The highlight of my weekend came as we came into the short course lap after lap, and I could see my son waving and cheering as we came down the front straightaway. I hit the siren every time to let him know that I saw him.
The race was scored with each team’s overall time for the day, so we knew we needed to push the last lap and make it our fastest. The last lap for the day ended up being our quickest and the best-feeling lap, with a lap time of 6 minutes and 53 seconds.
At the end of Day One, I was sitting in fourth place—a second faster than fifth place. It was time to clean, go over the truck, and get ready for Day Two.
We were able to get some rest and sleep in on Sunday because the race didn’t start until noon. We would be taking off the line in our finishing position from the day before, which meant I was in the second pair.
Sunday was a special day in the truck because I put my fiancee, Jessica Saran, in the truck. We had done a lap in the desert before, but the jumps were new for her.
I took off the line against No. 4696, Brian McNamara, beating his team up around the Talladega turn. I stayed in front of them until we got into the REM section of the course, where I took a 180-degree turn too wide, allowing the truck to push and not turn.
I was not in a great mood after that, but having my fiancee in the truck and with her being a therapist, she was able to calm me down and get me focused on racing. We continued to push, getting faster in each section of the course.
The course set up at Glen Helen Raceway for this race is a fun one. The tight technical sections and jumps make it fun to race on. Jessica and I had a blast in the truck together, laughing and enjoying the experience.
We ended up getting passed by No. 2004, Andres Verna, around Lap Three, but I was able to pass them and put time on them at the start of the last lap. Knowing that they were in front of me for a couple of laps, I knew that I needed to push to make up time.
When the dust settled after eight laps, we ended up with our fastest lap time of the weekend and fourth place. The Becerra brothers took the top spot, with UGM Racing’s Robert Williams less than 5 seconds behind them, with Poor Boy Racing and their four-wheel-drive Jeep in third place.
Overall, it was a great weekend at the races with the team and the racers. It’s something that we all look forward to, and it was even better this race because we all had our families and kids out enjoying it.
I couldn’t have done the race without the help of Clinical Racing’s partners, which include Bend-Tech, Raceline Wheels, Falken Tires, Motul, FK Rod Ends, Rigid Industries, Atlas Suspension, Fuel Safe, Evans Coolant, JE Reel and Bartact.