San Bernardino, CA
Every driver will tell you, they want to be out front at the end of the race. Running the entire race in the lead is not always as desired. Instead of being the one putting pressure on those ahead, the entire pack has you in their sites. During round 9 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA, Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr. started on the pole and led the race wire to wire. Hardesty refused to buckle under pressure from the Pro Buggy field which includes seasoned veterans and several hot young drivers like HotSauce himself.
“It was a little nerve-racking being ahead of all those cars for the entire race,” said HotSauce, “A single mistake and they would have flown past me. There were some big ruts out there and a cushion on the outside of the turns that can send you right up on two wheels. This weekend I really figured out how to drive through the ruts and even use them to my advantage. I was glad to be back on top but even more proud to take part in the 14 for 14 tribute to the victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack last December. I was asked by Lucas Oil to be one of 14 drivers who would carry the name of one of the victims on my car and my helmet. I was happy to get a win for our team but especially proud to do it in honor of Sierra Clayborn and her family.
It was a reminder of how lucky I am to be doing what I do and to be able to help support #SBStrong, and the San Bernardino United Fund, a charity account for survivors of the attack. It was very humbling and really cool to be a part of that. I have to thank my family, my crew, and my sponsors; Bilstein, Off Road Warehouse, Mickey Thompson Tires, Bink Designs, Impact, Lucas Oil Products, Alumi Craft Race Cars, Black Rhino,RacerX and USA Wheels.”
HotSauce was right back mixing it up on the track during round 10. He qualified 6th which meant he would have to fight his way to the front. He worked his way up to second place with only Mike Valentine ahead of him when he noticed Valentine was losing a wheel. Other drivers were having wheel and tire problems, probably caused by the deep ruts. HotSauce had no issues thanks to his USA Wheels and Mickey Thompson tires but he did have a radio problem; his cable got pulled out a bit which caused his audio to cut in and out. He tried to warn race officials about the loose wheel on Valentine’s car but could not get through.
Thinking that the wheel would come off and might cause a wreck, HotSauce tried a desperate move to get past Valentine that did not work out well for either driver. Valentine spun out and Darren got a black flag that negated a win. He was credited with a 5th place finish, the last car on the lead lap.
“I didn’t want the black flag but overall we had a great weekend,” said HotSauce, “With the points we earned, we are only 15 points out of the lead after suffering a DNF at the first round of the season. Our whole team was super proud and they told me it was some of the best driving I’ve done all season. We can’t wait to get back on the track.”
HotSauce will get his chance on August 13th and 14th at Wild West Motorsports Park in Sparks, NV, during rounds 11 and 12 of the Lucas Oil series.