Imagine racing 520 miles across the Nevada desert for 14 hours at speeds reaching 70 plus mph on an ATV, traveling over both desert and high mountain terrain.
Dean Waters and his 13-year-old son Justin from Joseph recently competed in and won the amateur quad class during the "Best in the Desert" off road race. The event took the father-son team from Alamo, Nev., to Dayton, Nev.
The next amateur competitors in their class finished three hours behind them."It's not uncommon for more than one-third of the teams to not even finish these long desert races," Waters said.
The team raced a 2001 Yamaha Raptor 660cc which has been modified for racing.
Also assisting at what is close to a Las Vegas to Reno race was Jared Hillock, of Enterprise. Hillock joined the team as a favor to Dean. He drove a chase truck for the team that carried parts and the relief riders from pit to pit throughout the day. They made 10 stops over the grueling 14-hour day. The team had three flat tires during the race.
Justin, the youngest competitor in the event at 13, rode over 180 miles. With the win, the father-son team has moved into the points lead for the series in the amateur class for the year. The duo was tied for second coming into this race.
Justin, who will be an 8th grader at Joseph next fall,started riding dirt bikes when he was almost five, but had problems with balance. He, along with his father, started racing quarter midget race cars instead. The team competed in midget racing for several years that eventually earned them two series championships in San Jose, Calif.. in 1998. When the family moved to Las Vegas, Dean and Justin began racing scale stock cars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The father-son team drove stock cars for two years before turning their efforts to ATV's, because they were more fun to ride and race. They raced a variety of ATV races in 2002 for fun.
In the fall of 2002, the team competed in their first desert race, the KTM 150, with "Best in the Desert", a major sanctioning organization with Pro classes and corporate sponsorship.The KTM 150 is a 150 mile race that takes place north of Las Vegas.
The father/son duo, along with teammate Marc Choquette from Pflugerville, Texas, is running the entire "Best in the Desert" series this year which includes races in Parker, Ariz., Pahrump, Nev., Las Vegas to Reno, the Baja 250, and concluding in Las Vegas in December.
In addition to desert racing Justin and Dean race in the World Off Road Championship Series, which has a West Coast and an East Coast circuit. WORCS events are more motocross style including forest trail racing. Justin has competed in two WORCS races in Price, Utah, and Washougal, Wash., so far this season.
Dean Waters graduated from Joseph High School in 1981. After attending Oregon State University he opened a computer store in Salem. Dean and his family moved to Fremont, Calif., where he worked for various software companies around the Bay Area until 1999.The family moved to Las Vegas later that year where Dean did Internet work for a local phone provider.The family moved back to Wallowa County in May of this year.
Dean also started a hobby website "www.Off-Road.com" in 1992 which has grown into a professional corporation that covers all aspects off-road motorsports, with employees and volunteer staff around the country. His wife, Pattie, works full time for Off-Road.com as an office administrator. She also writes and edits stories.