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Local racer speeds through the desert
by Krystal Bick
Jul 23, 2008 | 1577 views | 1 1 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Mark Levrett, off-road racer for Speed Technologies, stands beside one of his many racing photos.  Levrett is preparing for the Las Vegas to Reno race on August 23.
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Mark Levrett, off-road racer for Speed Technologies, stands beside one of his many racing photos. Levrett is preparing for the Las Vegas to Reno race on August 23.
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Courtesy Photo- Levrett and his team at the finish line of the Baja 500 in San Felipe, Mexico on May 31. His team finished ninth in class.
Courtesy Photo- Levrett and his team at the finish line of the Baja 500 in San Felipe, Mexico on May 31. His team finished ninth in class.
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Courtesy Photo- Mark Levrett (left) and his former co-driver Mitch Karadanis at a race in 2007 in Baja, Mexico.
Courtesy Photo- Mark Levrett (left) and his former co-driver Mitch Karadanis at a race in 2007 in Baja, Mexico.
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When Mark Levrett gets on the freeway, he admits he drives like a grandpa, hardly ever going over 70 mph. But when he gets out in the desert, under a blaring afternoon sun, it’s a different story.

Sparks resident Levrett along with the racing team, Speed Technologies, has reached speeds up to 130 mph, competing in long, off-road races in California, Mexico and, in August, a 500-mile Silver State trek from Las Vegas to Dayton.

“I definitely get my speed fix in while I’m racing,” Levrett said, with a laugh. “This has really been a dream of mine since I was five.”

Having never been injured while racing, Levrett said he actually has been living his dream, growing up with influences from both his grandfather, who raced in the Indianapolis 500, and his father, who first showed Levrett what the sport was all about.

“I was about 4 or 5 years old when I first started getting interested in racing,” Levrett said, explaining his first official race was in the second grade. “I got the racing bug from my father.”

Since then, Levrett has been racing motorcycles, jet skis and cars, looking for the next adrenaline rush. In 2006, Levrett joined his first professional racing team, Speed Technologies, owned by John Harrah.

It has been a non-stop ride from there, Levrett said.

While out racing, Levrett and his team of six other drivers face rocky and unpredictable terrain. He has to account for trail blockage, narrow passageways and even traps set up by spectators.

“One time in Baja, Mexico, some of the spectators set up a big dirt mound in the middle of a straightaway,” Levrett said, explaining that at the time he was traveling about 60 mph, was unable to avoid the mount and his car eventually broke down after crashing. “They like to see some action down there.”

Before each race, Levrett and his team will typically inspect a race course, mapping out road obstacles, sharp turns and other obstructions on a global positioning system. Called a "pre-run," this mapping out allows Levrett and his team to safely race the course. With the variable terrain, the design of the racing cars — similar to dune buggies — allows for high-speed jumps.

“The terrain can be so different,” Levrett said. “I mean, there are some rocks as big as cars.”

Alongside Levrett is his co-driver, J.J. Johnson. On most races, the course is split in half, as will be the case in the Las Vegas race. Levrett will drive the first 250 miles with Johnson taking over to ride into northern Nevada.

“We really couldn’t do this without our team,” Levrett said, regarding the camaraderie among the drivers and the pit stop repair crew. “They make sure we’re all ready to roll.”

Though Levrett has not won any professional races, he said he simply is doing this for the love of the rush.

“I do it for the thrill and the adrenaline of trying to be the best,” Levrett said. “When you’re out here racing in the desert, it’s all about the experiences and the people you meet along the way.”

The Vegas to Reno race will be held on Aug. 23. For more information, visit the Speed Technologies Web site at www.speed-technologies.com.

Comments
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anonymous
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July 24, 2008
Mark,

You are a wonderful looking man. I would like to get to know you better.
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