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Darren Skilton is one of the world's most accomplished off-road racers with wins in prestigious competitions such as the Baja 1000, which runs again this weekend. But sometimes even veteran champions can have a rough go of it. That happened to Skilton at the recent Vegas To Reno race in the Best In The Desert series. A failure with one of the parts prevented him from finishing.

Joe Franzetta of had a chance to be embedded with Skilton's team for that race. Here is part of what he encountered:

At mile 171, the race truck literally busted a knuckle. And if you know anything about a car's suspension, that ain’t a good thing. Darren lost use of the right-front wheel, made an immediate sharp right up a hillside wall and found himself unable to move the truck, blocking the race course -- to what extent, we didn’t know. So Darren's in full race gear in 100-plus degree mid-day desert heat, with not a drop of water to drink.

The radio transmissions and mobile phone calls (yes, Darren had cell phone service, but no water!) were going back and forth as we all waited to figure out if there was any hope. Darren, a skilled mechanic in his own right, might be able to repair the truck just enough to drive it somewhere we could meet him just off the course, do proper repairs, and get him on his way again. Even with the loss of time and position, there are so many perils that lie ahead for all the other competitors that getting repaired and heading back out could very well still result in a podium or even a win. Stranger things have happened.

Unfortunately for Skilton, that was not the case in this race. The crew was able to deliver water to Darren, but the parts issue could not be resolved.

The failure of the part is complete and only a weld will fix it. We have no replacement parts for this major suspension component (they really don't fail very often). And we have no welder. Game over. We eventually get Darren off the race course, strap down the wounded beast and turn towards the sunset back to Beatty where it all started 12 hours earlier.

Everyone is exhausted, filthy and a bit dejected once back in town. The truck was running great, Darren was running great and victory seemed a very real possibility. But that’s racing. Especially in the desert.

See below for a slideshow and video, and for a complete account of his embedded experience, read Joe Franzetta's feature on

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    Darren Skilton

    Vegas To Reno

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