Team Honda Racing Off-Road Take Advantage of Long Break and Ready for Vegas To Reno

After a long break from racing, the Honda Off-Road Factory race team is more than ready to take on the hot, Nevada desert in the 24th annual Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno, in a record breaking 383 field of entries. The team’s Baja Ridgeline and Talons will take on this year’s race course of 514 fast miles, gaining altitude through the brutal desert terrain; starting outside Las Vegas, NV on August 14th and ending in Reno, NV. In a time of COVID-19, BITD has worked diligently to implement local, state, and federal guidelines to promote safe and healthy practices during the race activities.

Never to sit still for long, the Honda Off-Road Factory Team, has taken advantage of the long break between races to continually refine and develop their already competitive equipment.

Jeff Proctor, Team Principal, recounts, “We came out of The Mint 400 and got to work. The longer than expected break meant we had time to chase down the details. We had time to test, refine, and test some more. We’re more than ready to get back to racing. And with all the hype and lots of entries, we’re expecting a very competitive race for the Ridgeline in Class 7 and the Talons in the Unlimited UTV class.”

Honda Talon drivers Christopher Polvoorde with navigator, Jimmy Davidson in No. 2994, and Eliott Watson with navigator, Quintin Tucker in No. 2933, plan to solo drive the 514 miles. Honda Ridgeline drivers Jeff Proctor and Patrick Dailey will share driving duties with Evan Weller navigating in No. 7209.

The “Longest Off-Road Race in the United States” is more than just long. It’s hot. The heat is something the drivers and navigators will have to manage for themselves and the vehicles through a steady altitude climb and deep sand washes. Summer desert conditions often mean no rain, and little wind – in off-road speak that means long stretches of blinding dust on a course that’s unforgiving outside the main race line – passing opportunities are limited. It will be a grueling test on drivers and machines.

Eliott Watson, driver of the No. 2933 Honda Talon, is ready, “I’m very thankful for everyone who contributed to getting our country in a healthy enough situation where we where we are able to go racing again. I’ve been fortunate enough to do a couple races in the past month, so I’m excited to get back in the swing of racing with the Honda team. Hopefully we have a mistake free day and are able to make it to the finish in a good spot!”

Christopher Polvoorde, Honda Talon No. 2994 driver, shares Watson’s outlook, “I’m super excited to get back in the Talons after a long break. I know the team as been working hard to get everything ready. This will be my first time racing V2R so I’m ready to learn a lot and have some fun.”

To follow the race, fans can follow on race day on Best In The Desert’s website https://bitd.com/live-tracking/ or by visiting RacingTrax. In addition, BITD will be posting a constant stream of posts from Time Trials and the race including extensive LiveStreams over Facebook of key action from the event. You can also follow the team on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Honda Off-Road Racing Team Takes On The Mint 400

Long touted, The Great American Off Road Race, The Mint 400, is also a notoriously rough course on equipment and drivers as hundreds of entries do their laps, making the race course ever-changing and unpredictable. The 2020 edition, held in the desert south of Las Vegas, NV, was the longest ever – 428 miles in four 107 mile long laps.

In their first Mint 400 race, the Honda Talon program, Christopher Polvoorde and navigator, Jimmy Davidson, started in the 22nd position, and Eliott Watson and navigator, Quintin Tucker, drew the coveted pole position for the Limited Race, UTV Pro Turbo Class of 42 very competitive entries, held on Friday, March 6.

The team entered the race with weeks of preparation and solid strategies. Each starting position had its own strategy for racing The Mint 400. The Watson driven, No. T903 Talon 1000R pole position meant pushing the driver and Talon harder to stay in the lead pack. Polvoorde’s No. T940 Talon strategy was to be less aggressive and focus on conserving the Talon for the decisive final lap, taking advantage of the inevitable attrition.

At the end of the day, both Talons were out of the race early due to mechanicals. Team principal, Jeff Proctor summed it up saying, “We’re still learning how all of our off-road experience fits into these capable Talons. We’ve made decisions, done the testing, worked with the best engineers, and we just didn’t see this coming. The Mint 400 wasn’t our race. It’s unfortunate that our results don’t reflect all the potential of the Honda Talon 1000R. We’ll adjust and come back stronger.”

Even so, the grandeur of the event wasn’t lost on Watson, “It was a rad experience getting to go through the Mint parade and do autograph signings throughout the day. When we were at the driver’s meeting and heard all of the people who put this race on I got the chills a little bit. All of the hard work that everyone at Honda has put in to get us out here for us to drive was insane.”

Results were better for the No. 709 Honda Ridgeline team, racing their 5th Mint 400 on Saturday, March 7, in the Unlimited Race with the larger horsepower, larger shod Unlimited Trucks, Class 1 and Baja Truck classes. Making the holes bigger and even more unpredictable for the Ridgeline drivers, Jeff Proctor and Pat Dailey and navigator, Evan Weller.

Race strategy had a major overhaul because of a last minute change in race format – shifting the Class 7 from the Limited Race to the Unlimited Race. Proctor said, “Starting behind the Unlimited Trucks is a big factor. They create lots of dust and holes. Our priority is to preserve the equipment and tires. The trucks expose rocks on an already rough course, and those rocks are hard on tires. It’s a race to the final lap and we have to make sure we have enough left to finish the race.”

Strategy paid off, the Honda Ridgeline finished the grueling race late into the night, with a time of 9:36:13, earning them a 2nd place position in Class 7. Per usual, results rarely reflect the racing drama and this race was no different.

Driver Patrick Dailey recounts, “This Honda Ridgeline was running great all day. Jeff and Evan set a great pace. Unfortunately about halfway into the 3rd lap, we had a suspension failure, which caused us to greatly reduce our pace. I jumped in the driver seat for the last lap and Michael Loomis replaced Evan in the navigator seat. We still had the lead at that point but wasn’t able to hang on with the slower pace we had to run. My main goal was just survival and get the truck to the finish line. The HPD engine ran perfect all day long. It was great to get back onto the podium with a 2nd place finish. We can’t wait for redemption at the Baja 500.”

Up next, for both programs is taking on the legendary diverse terrain of Northern Baja, Mexico in the 52nd Annual SCORE Baja 500, June 3 -7, 2020.

Honda Off-Road Racing Team Opens 2020 Season With Strong Qualifying Position in Friday’s Race

Coming off a two-year winning streak, the Honda Off-Road Racing Team and its Ridgeline Baja Race Truck opened the 2020 off-road racing season with a mountain of highs and one ultimate low of a DNF in the “7200” class for V6-powered race trucks in Friday’s Best in the Desert Parker 425.

Race week started out strong for the Ridgeline team, as the new race format brought a positive dimension. Best in the Desert added qualifying for the 7200 class and had two days of racing – Limited Classes on Friday, and Unlimited Classes on Saturday, meaning the 7200 class would miss the dust and big holes of the Trick Trucks. Jeff Proctor, Team Principal and driver, had a strong qualifying run earning first in class and second overall starting order – just 2.16 seconds behind the Class 10 / overall top qualifier.

“We’re used to the added challenge of battling dust and growing holes left by the Trick Trucks. And with our second on track position, it meant clean air and first on the road. The two laps I drove, were so much fun. Everything was running great, tires were holding up, our pits were smooth and fast, and we spent a lot of time in the lead. It was all going according to plan and I had hopes of an overall win for the day,” says Proctor.

The Best in the Desert Parker 425 race course is notoriously rough, and with a three lap format, it just gets rougher as the day progresses through the southwestern Arizona desert. Each lap presents competitors with wide-ranging conditions, from sand washes and rough rock sections to wide-open rally roads and with the dry weather comes dust, unlike 2019 that was held shortly after heavy rains.

Lap 3 was a scheduled driver change to long-time, accomplished desert racer and Team Manager, Pat Dailey. Navigator, Evan Weller, stayed in the Ridgeline after his two laps with Proctor.

“I knew from the time I got in, the truck wasn’t 100% and with lots of deep sand washes, we were asking the Ridgeline to work really hard,” recounts Dailey, “And just after RM 50 of Lap 3, we experienced a mechanical that ended our race. It’s the first time in three seasons of racing with the team that this has happened to me. It’s racing, it just wasn’t our day.”

Up next, is the legendary Mint 400 in March. Neither Proctor and Dailey were daunted by the weekend’s finish, both expressing how the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is a strong contender.

Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.

Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline.  Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.

Team Honda Racing Ridgeline efforts is made possible by strong support from Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireKMC WheelsSTEEL-IT CoatingsGibson ExhaustBaja DesignsFOXMaxima Racing OilsRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosSparcoEibach SpringsMPI InnovationsJE REEL DrivelinePro Eagle.

For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.

Team Honda Talon Factory Racing Announces Drivers for Two Talon 2020 Campaign

Torrance, CA

Fresh off their successful 2019 season in short-course racing, Eliott Watson and Christopher Polvoorde are joining the new Team Honda Talon Factory Racing program, being run under the same Jeff Proctor leadership of the proven Honda Off-Road Racing Team. The factory effort is designed to prove the Honda Talon’s prowess in desert racing.

“We’ve had our eyes on Eliott and Christopher for some time,” said Jeff Proctor, Team Principal. “At their young ages, they already have long and successful careers in short-course racing, with multiple championships between them in many classes, and they show no signs of slowing down. They’re perfect for our program and we look forward to helping them develop as racers.”

Interestingly, Watson and Polvoorde were recruited separately, but these college roommates share more than just a dorm room and a history of winning short-course championships. Both started their short-course racing careers at age 10, and as time went on, they both took on management roles on their respective teams, shouldering sponsorship and engineering responsibilities.

Eliott Watson’s 2019 season was capped off with a Pro Buggy Championship in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and a Pro Buggy class win at the 50th Crandon World Cup. He comes from a family of off-road racers and has childhood memories of his father racing. “Like so many others in the off-road world, it’s a family passion,” Watson said. We’ve worked hard as a family to get to here.”

Watson added that he is ready for a factory effort. “Obviously, there are many benefits of joining a factory backed team,” he said, “but for me, it means being able to focus more on my racing skills and learning from the best—whether it’s engineers or other Honda racers, like Alexander Rossi.” Watson will be working closely with navigator Daniel Plaza to tackle the ever-changing desert terrain on each unique racecourse.

Christopher Polvoorde is coming off a perfect season in the highly competitive Pro Lite class in the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League, including, clinching the Championship and a podium-topping race at the 50th Crandon World Cup. “I’ve dreamed of desert racing for a long time, but I know it’s a different discipline and I have a lot to learn,” he said. “The Talon program is a great step for me. I’m looking forward to getting the Talon out front and all the attention that brings.” Polvoorde will be relying on the expertise of Jimmy Davidson as his navigator through the desert extremes.

Both Honda Talons will compete in an aggressive first season, running in the most respected, rough and challenging desert races in North America as they seek to conquer the many extreme styles of desert racing—including the legendary Mint 400, the rock-crawling haven of King of the Hammers, the UTV World Championships, the SCORE Baja 500, Best in the Desert’s Vegas to Reno and the iconic SCORE Baja 1000, which for 2020 will feature a point-to-point course from Ensenada to La Paz. The schedule will be the ultimate testing and proving ground for the new Team Honda Talon 1000R Turbo.

Testing and proving driver, navigator and equipment is what the Team Honda Talon Factory Racing program is all about, and Proctor feels confident the team has a solid footing on all fronts. “We’re beyond excited to get this program in front of our fans and foes alike,” he said. “We may be one of the newest to the side-by-side category, but we have the advantage of our Honda Ridgeline desert-racing program experience, and the power of Honda’s racing heritage behind us. We love the pressure of living up to the past.”

The Team Honda Talon 1000R Turbo has been engineered to take on demanding desert conditions in the UTV Production Turbo class. The side-by-sides were developed by Proctor Racing Group (PRG) using the Jackson Racing turbo kit that includes FOX Live Valve Internal Bypass shocks, KMC WheelsSTEEL-IT Coatings chassis, Gibson ExhaustBaja Designs lights, Jsport SxS Race Suspension Kit, Sparco Seats and Harnesses and MPI steering wheel.