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Vegas 2 Reno (the long way!)
Story and photos by Charlene Bower and Jon Crowley

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[ WEDNESDAY CONTINGENCY ] [ THURSDAY RACE DAY 1 ]
[ FRIDAY RACE DAY 2 ] [ SATURDAY RACE DAY 3 ]

Saturday Race Day #3 - The home stretch!
8/22/09 Hawthorne to Dayton
Only 298 miles today!

Three hours of sleep is what racing is all about. The focus was on Knolls car all night. The short bus generator finally turned off at 5am only minutes before the motorcycles and ATV's were allowed into the impound to fire up and get ready for their day 3 start.

The continued search for WiFi lead me back to the starting line by 7:30am to hopefully find a good connection. Terminal failure: this time it was due to mechanical problems ; one of the pieces of the satellite had broken and we were done.

Just like the other two days the vehicles were paraded to the start line in a long group. Talk about exciting! The roar came down the two mile long street, across the railroad tracks to reach the RedBull arch for the start. The intensity at the third day starting line was different from the others...The first day was exciting anticipation, the second was survival, and now the third was a feeling of success. Seven of the eleven 4400 cars were at the start line for the third day in a row to make it happen! Five officially started and two were allowed to drive for the experience.

The picture of the week is Knoll being towed across the starting line by Chaplain Steve Hanson. They still needed a new fuel pump to get the rig going, and they didn't want to give up! With one coming from Reno, he was the last vehicle to go across the start line and was pulled off to the side of the course to wait. Within minutes the fuel pump arrived, they all went to work like ants, and after multiple attempts at trying to make it work, even running the car down the course for a minute in the wrong direction, they called the race. "It was just going to create a recovery issue later, and this way we can put all of our team efforts into 4461 and getting the Auzzies to the finish line," said a disappointed Jeff Knoll.

JC, who I had been riding with for the last two days, was the communications headquarters. With that duty switched off to Cole, we became a pit support vehicle. Our pit location was 6 – directly across from the start via dirt roads and beautiful canyons. The Nevada desert is a great place to ride, crawl or drive. There is a lot of very interesting mining history and small towns here and there in the middle of no where. The day was a little cooler than it had been, very muggy though. The rain clouds had come in keeping some of the pounding sun off of us, but added moisture to the air. The breeze was changing direction within minutes. Still not a wind, just slight enough to move a little bit of the hanging dust, it would go towards the pits one minute, and then switch and go away from it.

Unfortunately, we lost all cell service at pit 6 for about 3 hours, but I was able to walk out into the desert to a few different spots and get some cool pictures. The top trucks came through as well as the 4400's towards the end of the pack. This was a strategic moment in the race for the 4400's actually. Sacalas came in and took a longer pit...about 10 minutes. They fueled, checked everything over and prepared themselves for the final stretch of the race. Just as Sacalas was putting on his helmet and ready to go, the Watsons came into the pits...Sacalas got out just ahead of them. The Watson's did not stop, and decided to pace them for a while not wanting to be in the dust or pass as they thought that he would need to stop at an upcoming pit. As Sacalas went through pit 8, the Watsons realized that their calculations were wrong and they would need to make the pass! The race took on a different twist, but the Watsons were never able to make the pass on Sacalas for the day win.

We left the pits before Bulloch had made it, but we caught up with one of their pit trucks on the highway as we were passing Sand Mountain headed towards the finish line. They gave us the thumbs up! Four rigs were still in the running!

I never made it to the finish line...our navigation got detoured and we couldn't get back on track in time. I am sad that I didn't get to finish the BITD Vegas to Reno race, but then again, everything happens for a reason, so we found the local Starbucks and was able to finally get you all the pictures and interviews from the last two days! I made the poor guys there were with me hang out for about an hour as we laughed at the Verizon Wireless Ad in their window with all the geeky network people...where were they the last three days when I needed them!

The finish was eventful with the final checker flag dropping on an adventure of a lifetime...996 miles over the course of 3 days, to 3 different cities with a total of 24 pit stops and endless memories and stories.

We signed out on the "Live Pirate4x4.com" chat session at 8:30pm and the party began. In search of a drink, a shower and a pillow that wasn't moving, I ran into many successful racers inside the Sands Hotel and Casino in Reno who were celebrating their wins and success of finishing such an epic journey. All of the 4400 teams that had made it to the final night in Reno ended up on the top floor of the Sands at a huge celebration complimenting all of the teams success! Big stories, blood shot eyes, exhaustion, beer drinkin' and pizza eating sums up what I can tell you about the party! A great end to a great week of accomplishments!

Official Finishing Results:

Place Overall Place Team # Name Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Total Time
1 67 4435 Kevin Sacalas 11:40:24 12:19:40 7:12:35 31:12:41
2 74 4488 Brandon Watson 14:45:00 11:17:23 7:13:19 33:15:43
3 78 4461 Ben Napier 14:45:00 11:19:20 7:56:40 34:01:00
4 84 4411 Dean Bulloch 14:45:00 12:26:36 8:25:25 35:37:02
5 106 4471 Jeff Knoll 10:08:32 15:45:00 00:00:00  

• 14:45:00 is the max time applied to day 1 due to DNF
• 15:45:00 is the max time applied to day 2 due to DNF

~ Charlene ~