Mitchell DeJong Top Five at Firebird
The 14 year old, Mitchell DeJong impresses the large crowds with a come from behind, Top 5 finish, in his #24 Traxxas / Red Bull Pro-Buggy Unlimited during opening weekend of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series at Firebird International Raceway.
After consecutive Pro-Buggy wins in the LOORRS regional series, Mitchell DeJong went to Firebird with the same intensity and desire to dominate the "Big" series. While lining up for qualifying with men over twice his age, the 8-time racing champ put aside that he would be racing against veteran drivers with more racing years than he's been alive. He put aside that these returning multi-time champions are there to slow him from his dreams, they simply no longer existed.
As Round 1 qualifying began, Mitchell put the Kroyer Racing engines power to the ground, he flew high and cornered tight, ultimately driving his #24 Traxxas / Red Bull Pro-Buggy to the "big show." By qualifying 4th, with the Top-4 only separated by a tenth of a second, Mitchell was able to rest with some added confidence before the next day's race knowing that 20 other drivers would start behind him.
Saturday's Round 1 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing main event started great, with Mitchell holding his lines and letting the Fox Racing Shox soak the big landings. As the racing was about to heat-up through the second half, #24 suffered a brake failure forcing him to adapt quickly. The young athlete held off most of the field to salvage a respectable 11th place finish. Mitchell commented on his results, "Everything was going so good, Qualifying was great and the race was going really good. It's a bummer to have a mechanical problem, but this racing is tough on the cars. Hopefully tomorrow is better."
Okay, it was done, the first race of the year was gone. Bad luck was gone and now it was time to win, right? As Mitchell prepared the for the next day's action, the team noticed the power steering system had failed. While it's not a typical problem, it seemed that if it could happen this weekend, it was going to happen to Mitchell. With NO time to fix the steering problem, the small framed Mitchell grabbed the heavy steering wheel and drove to an 18th start position.
With the Traxxas / Red Bull machine now fixed and in shape for Round 2, Mitchell was ready to race the CRAZIEST race of his life. Mitchell commented, "You think racing with kids can be crazy? Try racing Pro-Buggy Unlimited with these adults, they seem like they are all racing MAD out there!"
The track was extremely wet, so right off the start two cars in front of Mitchell started spinning into each other. Trying to avoid being collected, Mitchell braked and forced his car into a spin. Mitchell waited patiently until the rest of the field behind him were clear, then pulled a tear-off and went to work, picking off the other competitors one by one. Mitchell stayed focused bobbing and weaving through the chaos. At one point he was looking out the mesh side window at another racer's tire as he was being landed on, off the ski jump. With amazement, Mitchell came out unscathed in the contact as the other driver bounced off and spun backward. With a few short laps left, Mitchell pressed hard earning 5th place, and making a remarkable recovery coming from the 25th position, passing 20 racers without contact in a traditionally hard to pass Pro-Buggy Unlimited class.
"Today was CRAZY! I felt like I was playing a video game with all of the carnage and quick moves to stay out of trouble. I'm happy to be alive right now (laughing). Thanks to Traxxas, Red Bull, DeJong Off-Road and everyone else who believes a young kid can be a threat for the Lucas Oil championship." - Mitchell DeJong
Thanks to Traxxas, Red Bull, DeJong Off Road, Fox Racing Shox, Method Race Wheels, California Performance, Kroyer Engines, Simpson, K&N, Replay XD, Racer X, Schampa and PayDirt Media.