For a third consecutive year, Team OTSFF/MOTUL entered and finished the mammoth Vegas to Reno off-road race in the 6100 Spec Trophy Class this past weekend. The race got underway in Vegas on Friday, August 14th, and finished some 550 miles later the next day in Reno. Due to team owner/driver Andre Laurin being stuck in Canada because of the Covid-19 pandemic, driving duties were taken over by Adam Fitza and navigator Danny Novoa, who replaced regular Kerry King.
Fitza and Novoa had no problems qualifying for the event, although they had to do in the dark under very hot and dusty conditions. The new Rigid Industries “Adapt Light Bar” performed flawlessly during qualifying as it would during Friday/Saturday’s night time racing conditions. Not long after Fitza and Novoa blasted off the starting line, in the explosive OTSFF/MOTUL truck around 11:10 am on Friday morning, they were chasing down a car in very thick dust when another vehicle rear-ended them at speed. The hit “rattled our brains, but we shook it off and continued on,” Fitza noted. He and Novoa were only 20 miles into the race when the collision occurred and they were holding their breath, hoping no serious damage was done to the truck’s rear end.
The first 80 miles of the course were new for this year and was very silty, dusty, and rocky. But Fitza and Novoa made it into Pit 3 without further incident. Visibility was horrible due to the thick dust, exceeding not much past the truck’s front bumper. Fitza’s driving challenges were made just a bit easier by Novoa doing an amazing navigating job through the dust.
Approximately 160 miles into the race the truck suffered a right rear flat, bouncing through the rocky terrain. Unfortunately, the jack-handle was wedged into the rear bumper due to the impact from the earlier collision.
It was difficult to free the handle, causing some unexpected delay in changing the tire. Once Fitza and Novoa were underway they poured on the gas as if there was no tomorrow. In no time they rolled into Pit 5, where the team’s crew fueled the truck and did a quick visual inspection. All seemed good and off they went in record time.
Approximately 220 miles into the event Fitza and Novoa starting hearing an abnormal clanking sound. This was not good. The race was not even halfway over and the “clanking sounds” were threatening to possibly cut it short for Team OTSFF/MOTUL. Fitza managed to limp the truck into Pit 6, where it was discovered that the pinion carrier bolts had broken off of the third member. The pinion gear was literally falling out of the differential! The good news was that the crew found some spare bolts that were the right size and they managed to repair the damage.
It was smooth sailing until Race Mile 310, when another flat had to be dealt with. “It was 100% my fault, as I took a line in a 90 degree right, which was the wrong choice,” Fitza explained. This time he and Novoa were able to execute a fast tire change and were back in action, heading for Pit 10. Here they stopped for fuel and to replace both rear tires before heading into the mountain sections of the course. Finally, some fresh air and no more dust to contend with. Fitza got into a great groove and started making up more time.
“I love the technical tight parts of the course. I felt really comfortable here and we started reeling in race cars, hitting the siren and passing. What a blast! The truck was working amazingly well and everything was falling into place,” Fitza noted.
At Pits 11 and 12, with quick visuals from the pit crew, everything was deemed A-OK. Except for a nasty monsoonal thunderstorm looming on the horizon. Approximately 415 miles into the race, Fitza and Novoa hit heavy rain.
“What an experience. So much fun driving this truck 80+ mph in pouring rain and mud. Our Toyo tires were hooking up in the mud without hesitation. And our Vision Wheels took the abuse we put them through. The Rigid Lights lit up the desert-like day time at night! Engine and trans never skipped a beat, thanks to the superior Motul lubricants. This was the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” Fitza said.
Finish At Last
For the last 50 miles, Fitza ran the truck at a conservative pace through the rocky terrain and he and Novoa dropped into Dayton (outside of Reno), to take the checkered flag at approximately 9:09 pm. It had been an unbelievable feeling for them, crossing the finish line in such a diverse race. Although a top-10 finish had been hoped for, Team OTSFF/MOTUL had to take satisfaction with 22nd place in the 6100 Spec Trophy Class. But as is the case with every off-road race entered, the main achievement is getting to the finish line, which despite a few side-issues was once again attained.
“We saw it all. Dust, silt, rocks, mountains, wild donkeys, passing cars, driving blind in the dust, a few minor issues, rain, lightning, mud, what have you. This race was a perfect example of what off-road racing is. All in all, it was an amazing day. Thanks to Andre and Monique Laurin and everyone at OTSFF for trusting me with their truck. I hope I made them proud,” Fitza said. “Not the finish we were hoping for, but a finish in itself is a success. We have a solid foundation as a team and we strive to work together, get to the finish, and have fun doing it. And we did just that! Already looking forward to the next one.”