Back in the beginning of October we contacted the Media Coordinator for Riot Racing to see if we could do a feature on them.
Emails and phone calls back and forth we finally got a date to meet up. It was right after the SEMA show in November, Riot Racing was doing some testing on one of their Trophy Trucks so I packed up my gear and headed to the deserts of Jean, Nevada. After getting some pics during testing the following week I made it over to their shop for a quick tour.
Riot Racing is new to the desert racing scene. You surely can’t miss the exotic wraps on all their trucks, and this is what caught my attention. Team Owner and Driver Marc Ewing kind of fell into Desert Racing as I was told by Team Manager Harvey Knapp:
One of Marc’s loves in life is mountain climbing and after an injury left him laid up for a while, he started to get restless. This was about the time that short course style R/C trucks started becoming popular so Marc bought some for his children.
Since Marc doesn’t do anything small he called me up and I brought over a Bobcat and tore up his backyard to build a track for the R/C trucks. We began to hold races and Marc new I had friends in the Off Road Racing scene. He told me one day he wants to go desert racing, so I made a call to my friend in Utah Tony Sorensen. I told him Marc wanted to get in a truck, and see what it was like. We made arrangements and got Marc in a truck.
After that experience Marc knew he wanted to do this more often, so with Tony’s help they created Riot Racing towards the end of 2008.
Not every story has a happy ending. Tony always was Marc’s Co-Driver, but for the 2009 Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno he was going to drive. Tony had done so much to help Marc build the Riot Team, and now being able to drive was a dream come true.
After the start, about midday, they were now in 7th place after starting 26th, then horrifying news came over the radio by TJ Co-Driver and son of Tony, that he had blacked out and was not breathing. Fortunately before this happened Tony was able to get the truck off the course to a safe location. Riot’s helicopter and crew members arrived quickly, and everyone there gave Tony the best possible care before he could be taken to the hospital in Tonopah NV. There it became apparent there was nothing more that could be done. Tony Sorensen, at age 46, died of a massive heart attack. To read more about how the Riot Team memorializes Tony’s passing please visit: Tribute to Tony Sorensen.
Since Tony’s passing the Riot team has used the knowledge passed on by Tony to achieve a lot in the desert racing scene. Now with 2 trucks and more experience you are going to see the Riot team on the podium a lot more in the coming years.
Riot Racing now races 2 Trophy Trucks and we got up close and personal with the #68 truck.
The truck was built by the infamous Geiser Brothers. Now I am sure you have heard this name before if you have been into Desert Racing. The frame and cage work is a work of art, protecting Marc and his Co-Driver from any harm. The front suspension consists of upper and lower arms and is suspended by Fox 3.0 coilovers and 4.4 bypass shocks providing 28” of travel.
Out back a Gearworks 10” rear-end with 5.29 gears, cycles through 36” of travel with the help of another set of Fox 3.0 coilovers and 4.4 bypass shocks.
Desert Racing is usually about endurance, lots of miles requires lots of fuel. This truck uses a 95 gallon tank, inside the gas tank is a flexible fiberglass cell that will bend when hit.
Motivating this beast is a 462 cu.in. tall deck small block with Dart heads spitting out 750 HP, which is needed to move a 5300 pound truck spinning 39” BFG Baja TA’s.
Meet Team Riot Racing
Marc Ewing / Driver
Marc is the driver of the Riot truck, and 2010 is his second season in off road racing. Prior to this, he was involved in competitive sailing where he raced in the Farr 40 and Melges 24 circuits. Marc has been an avid climber for most of his adult life, taking frequent trips to Alaska, Canada and Patagonia. He is from the Chicago area.
Harvey Knapp / Team Manager
Harvey is responsible for promoting the race program and garnering sponsorship for Riot. Born and raised in England, he moved to the United States in 1989 and now resides in Chicago. He began working in the graphic arts industry and has a mechanical background in printing equipment and heavy machinery installation.
Jordan Poole / Crew Chief, Co-Driver
Jordan is the crew chief and the co-driver for the #68 trophy truck. He supervises the shop and coordinates the race events. For six years he worked at RTR Motorsports. Jordan is native to Las Vegas and has been around off-road racing his entire life. He has co-driven for many different classes within the sport.
Sammy Zaranti / Lead Mechanic
Sammy is the lead mechanic on one of the Riot trophy trucks. He has been chief mechanic for a number of off road race programs including JS Pest Control Motorsports, Collins Motorsports, Las Vegas Dissemination and RTR Motorsports. He was also the team manager at Sorensen Motorsports. Sammy was born in Chicago and has lived in Las Vegas most of his life.
Mike Lucey / Fabricator
Mike Lucey is the lead fabricator and a mechanic at Riot Racing. For the past year, he was the lead fabricator at Baldwin Motorsports. In Santee, California he built chassis at Jimco Racing for seven years. Mike was also the team manager for the Nitro Circus trophy truck team for two years, and he prepped the race truck. Mike is originally from Palm Springs, California and currently lives in Las Vegas.
Brandon Johnson / Mechanic
Brandon is a mechanic for Riot Racing. At Collins Motorsports he prepped trophy trucks and built Pro2 short course trucks. For six years he built, prepped and co-drove for the #1586 buggy of Grove Lumber Racing in Ontario, California. In 2002 his off-road career began at GSM Fabrication in Riverside, California where he prepped buggies. Brandon now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Anthoney Apalategui / Mechanic
Anthoney is a mechanic for Riot Racing. He prepped and co-drove for Napoli Motorsports in Las Vegas for a year and a half. Beforehand, he was a project manager at Young Electric Sign Company in Las Vegas for 15 years. He brings his electrical background and expertise to Riot. From Las Vegas, Anthoney has always been a desert racing enthusiast.
Dustin Reimer / Shop Assistant
Dustin prepares the chase vehicles and assists in a number of responsibilities at the shop. For the last five years he’s been volunteering and chasing with several trophy truck teams including Collins Motorsports and The Herbst. He has been in the masonry industry since 1993. Originally from Indiana, Dustin now resides in Las Vegas.
Erica Magda / Media Manager
Erica is the photographer and reporter for the team, and she assists in managing the Riot Web site. From the Chicago area, she has a background in journalism, web management and photography and has worked for various news organizations.From sail boats to Trophy Trucks, Team Riot Racing sure flipped a 180, but judging from their success so far, I think we are going to hear a lot more from this team. They have went so far as to hire a dedicated production company to document their racing which should be a huge boost for the exposure of Desert Racing to a more national audience.
I want to personally thank the crew over at Riot Racing for letting me hang out with them and tell you, our readers, their story.