The Honda Off-Road Racing Team Ridgeline and Talon achieved hard fought class wins at the 2023 edition of The Mint 400, The Great American Off Road Race. This year’s four, 95 mile lap course continued the tradition of rough unpredictability for the 487 entries over two days of racing in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada.
The No. 1925 Honda Talon, piloted by Zach Sizelove, took the top position in the tight, highly competitive UTV Pro NA class with a time of 8:54:22, about seven and half minutes ahead of the second place finisher.
In only his second race-outing driving the Honda Ridgeline and just 16 years old, Ethan Ebert, split racing duties with Richard Glaszczak to deliver the No. 709 Honda to the finish line in the Unlimited Race for a win in Class 7 and 22nd overall – amongst the much bigger horsepowered Unlimited Trucks and Unlimited Spec trucks. Ebert and Glaszczak’s time of 8:24:33 was well-earned with just a 43 percent finish rate in the Unlimited Race.
Zach Sizelove, who recently signed a two-year extension with the team, brought his usual consistency and strategy to the race. Sizelove started 9th and quickly made his way to 4th on the first of four 95-mile laps. Early in the third lap, he made his way into second position and held steady - pushing hard but mindful to keep the car in great condition for the final push on the last lap to go after the win.
“At approximately mile 350 I got into the lead and continued to push to the finish to capture the win," Sizelove said. "It was all thanks to the incredible strength of the stock Honda Talon drivetrain that allowed me to push so hard the entire race and have no problems and capitalize on our competitors errors."
"A storm came through and rained on majority of the racecourse resulting in added load on the differentials and transmission, and the Honda Talon never wavered. My navigator and I were able to stay focused and fresh thanks to having a no flat tires on the brutal and rocky race course. I can’t that Jeff Proctor and the entire Honda Off-Road Racing team enough for the continued support and giving the opportunity to drive such a great racecar.”
Team Principal, Jeff Proctor, said, “The Mint 400 never disappoints. It’s a brutally rough course on a good day but the weather extremes this year added another dimension. Everyone from drivers to pit crew battled through. We had flawless pit stop execution and race strategy."
“I am again impressed with Zach’s race craft. He never loses sight of his strategy. No matter the changing competitive landscape or race conditions, he doesn’t deviate. He has the patience to let it play out."
“The Honda Ridgeline ran solid all day long. It was brutal out there and only getting worse with every lap and raindrop. Ethan and Richard did a great job getting the Ridgeline to the finish line. In a race like this, that’s most of the battle.”
Ebert said, “The race was definitely a challenge. It showed how hard the Vegas terrain is and how much effort you need to put in to win a race like that. We qualified in 18th overall, but they didn’t let us start in the qualifying pack, we started in the back, based on class – so we had to work our way through the pack. That didn’t stop us from racing hard."
"We worked our way to 20th after a lap and a half and even after some driver changes between Richard and I, the team kept great pace to finish the race 22nd overall, on corrected time. The race definitely showed we have some work to do comfort-wise for my navigator and I. But the Mint 400 for us was a success overall and now we are looking towards the Baja 500!”
Up next for the team, is the 55th SCORE Baja 500 in June. For more on the Honda Facotry Off-Road Racing team, be sure to check out their website.