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Garrick Freitas Endures at Brutally Tough General Tire Mint 400

freitas_13mint400_01Las Vegas, NV
The General Tire Mint 400, presented by Polaris has a reputation for being one of the toughest desert races around. The storied past of this legendary race includes the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas mixed with the brutal terrain north of the city. Most purists say the race is only true to its roots when the northern course is run. This year’s race had all the Vegas glitz of years past and the southern course was as tough as or tougher than anything ever seen. Roughly, two thirds of the racers who took the green flag failed to take the checkered flag. Anyone who made it to the finish earned every mile.

freitas_13mint400_02Garrick started ninth off the line. Despite thick blinding dust, he was second on the road behind Pat Dean at pit B, (mile 81). By lap two, the course was getting very rough. The rocks were coming up and big holes with square edges were getting deeper with every passing car. The silt was waiting to swallow anyone who dared to slow down.  “I tried to stay out of the deepest ruts,” says Garrick, “The ruts and holes were filled with loose rocks; some of them were huge. My General tires give great sidebite control so the front wheels were going where I pointed them but I couldn’t keep the rears from dropping into the ruts at times. We were going about 80 mph when the rear dropped into a hole and smacked a huge rock, exploding the wheel. Thanks to the strength of my ProAm hubs the damage was just to the wheel” Co-rider Steve Shahan made quick work of changing the tire but two racers got by while he worked.

freitas_13mint400_03On lap three, they pulled into the main pit. The crew noticed a slight water leak but it didn’t look critical so in an attempt to save track position they took off. By the time they made their way to the end of pit lane, the Motec Engine Management System was reporting a low water condition. They looped back around and hit the pits again to fix the leak. While work was underway, the crew took a better look and noticed the right front was losing air. The tire was changed in the pits saving them precious minutes. “My crew is the best,” says Garrick, “They come through for me every time.”

By lap four, the course had gotten even worse. The slight breeze they had in the morning was now gone making vision impossible. “My FOX shocks were dialed in but you just can’t hit that many rocks and expect the tires to live,” Said Garrick, “We were driving blind. I couldn’t get a decent rhythm going because we kept nailing rocks we couldn’t see. It was so bad we took some damage to the frame; we tacoed a tube that will have to be replaced. Hat’s off to Chuck Hovey the winner. My co-riders Steve Shahan and Trevor Freitas were working all day long. That guy must be an animal to win this race in a single seat car.”

Garrick and the Freitas Motorsports team got a well-earned eighth place finish adding valuable points while others faltered. Their next race, the BITD Silver State 300 May 3-5 will be a point-to-point race that better suits his class 1500 car. He will be able to open the car up on the long stretches of the course without having to fight through the huge holes made by the big trucks on a multi-lap race like the Mint.

Photography By Brian Binkert

Bink Designs / www.binkdesigns.com

About Freitas Off Road Motorsports

Freitas Offroad Motorsports is a group of off-road enthusiasts who are committed to excellence and professionalism in competitive motorsports. The team’s success is contributed to a strong family based team that draws on the dedication and expertise of their many team members and volunteers. The team’s Jimco, Champion racecar can be found running at the front in Best in the Desert off-road racing series events held throughout the southwestern United States. The team receives support from General Tire, in their quest for race wins and championship seasons.  Sponsors Include General Tire, Jimco Racing, Fox Racing Shox, Kroyer Racing EnginesDan Freitas Electric, JC Lansdowne, Mendes Calf Ranch, Johnston Trading, ProAmSS Shirts, Cal State Distributing.

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