Lake Elsinore, CA
Darren “HotSauce” Hardesty Jr. was in perfect form when he unloaded for rounds 13 and 14 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, Ca. He was fastest in practice session 2 on Thursday and qualified in the second spot the following day for Friday night’s race. He was trying a new spring set-up on his Bilstein shocks. It took more effort to drive the car but it was faster in the turns; a trade-off HotSauce was willing to make.
It didn’t take long for the new springs to pay off. HotSauce took the green flag and railed turn one to take the lead. As the laps went by, HotSauce was building a gap back to the second place car. It looked like he was on his way to another win when disaster struck.
He crested the lip of the blind, step-up jump and spotted a stalled car sitting in the landing zone. “I was flying right towards the car and knew it was not going to be good,” said HotSauce, “The steering and brakes don’t work when you are in the air.” He hit the car and tumbled into the corner; collecting Garrett George on the way. The collision took both cars out of the race. The damage to the Bilstein, Off Road Warehouse, Mickey Thompson Tires, Impact, Lucas Oil, Bink Designs, Alumi Craft Race Cars, Black Rhino, RacerX, and USA Wheels Pro Buggy was extensive. It ripped the trailing arm off, tore the CV joint out of the transmission, and bent the shock shafts.
Usually the crew puts in hard work on the car and has to watch while HotSauce does his job on the track. Now it was Darren who watched as the crew raced to get the car back in shape. Devlin Nunley, Cole Andrews, Matt Major, Earl Hardesty, Darren Hardesty Sr, Terry Meyer, and Nate Taylor sprang into action to get the car back into form. “My crew took a sad looking car and stayed up all night to get it race ready the next day,” said HotSauce, “Matt drove down to Alumi Craft to make some parts we needed and Doug Cimmins repaired and rebuilt the shocks. He put the same spring set-up from Friday; we were hoping to get more laps on them this time.”
(Left To Right: Devlin Nunley, Cole Andrews, Matt Major)
The job that the crew pulled off was amazing. During qualifying for Saturday’s race, they were second fastest; only six one-thousandths of a second out of first. At the start of the race it was a replay of Friday night with HotSauce taking the holeshot and running un-opposed out front.
This time, he made it to the checkered flag without incident; picking up his third win of the season. “It was so amazing what my crew pulled off,” said HotSauce, “We had so many friends that drove a long way to see us race, so many people who help us out and we could see tons of fans wearing our Bilstein team shirts in the stands. To come back and win for them; it was really humbling; it was emotional for everyone. We are all so proud!”
HotSauce and his team will be ready to go again when they line up for the final race of the season October 22nd and 23rd at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ. Solidly on the podium in the points chase, they hope to make a run for the championship title.
Photography By: Bink Designs