February 2-10, 2017….Derek West and team # 20 left for Johnson Valley, California on Thursday Feb. 2nd after months of preparation for the opening race of the 2017 season, which is also the biggest race of the every season. The week was full of media, photo shoots & prepping for qualifying. Derek qualified on Tuesday Feb. 7th during “Power Hour” taking a great starting position of 19th overall out of 122 racers.
Friday Feb. 10 “Race Day”…Derek and his team had everything in tip-top shape ready to start the race after qualifying earlier in the week. Early Friday morning the #20 car took the green flag and was off to a great start catching other cars until a large boulder appeared out of the dust and damaged some crucial components. A quick stop at pit 1 and they were off again chasing dust trails. An alternator belt came off and the team did not notice it until the battery had been drained to a critically low point. Arthur Richtmyre (co-driver) hopped out and began replacing the belt. Once things were back in order the battery was too drained to start the car, during this process Mel Wade, one of Derek’s competitors stopped and give him their jump pack. Art and Derek tried this but the car still would not start. Quickly, Derek cut the battery cables that feed his winch with a plan to use them as jumper cables. Derek stood on the hood of his car and waited for the next competitor to come by and signal them for help. That next person was Jeremy Hammer, a fellow Nitto Tire teamate. He stopped and was successful in getting the car going again!
Things were now going as good as they could for being at the back of the pack. Again, Derek began passing cars again in the rock trails until a rock took out the rear slip yoke on the drive-line. Derek knew he had no choice but to quickly hike to pit 2a, which was 4 miles away through the mountains. He quickly got to the pit and then back to the car with the needed part. From there Derek drove at a conservative pace in order to finish the race and gain series points. They had no more issues and completed the race in 49th place at 9:30 pm just 30 minutes before the time cap. Derek & Art endured a long, hard day in the race car with an ending time of 13 hours & 18 minutes. The team showed their racing perseverance and hard work pays off! Derek and team 20 are looking forward to an amazing season!
Derek West Racing upcoming events:
Feb. 25 – Outlaw Racing Series @ Booneville, Ark.
March 26 – Big Meat Run @ Disney, Ok.
May 6th – Outlaw Racing Series @ Jadwin, Mo.
May 20th – Ultra 4 East Coast Series @ Davis, Ok.
May 26-29 – Maddness In May @ Cass, Ark.
Images provided by Derek West and Bill Bailey