Ben Vest, 17, took the first place trophy on Sept. 21 at the Central Oregon Off-Road Race Park (COORP).

Vest ran the course with his dad’s (Troy Vest, of Vest Racing) protruck.

It was a close call between him and the second-place driver, Ben said. The COORP season started in April. Ben raced in all three races leading up to the championship, and he was the points leader going into the final, having taken first in all but one of the races all season.

Ben wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps as a driver. “It takes a lot of work and a lot of support,” he said, thanking his parents and Vest Racing fans for their support.

Ben is on his second year of driving. His first time in the seat was last year, in Parker, Ariz., where the Vest Racing team returned to last weekend for the 2013 Bluewater Desert Challenge.

Being a good driver takes a lot of practice and time. You can study the course months before and discuss strategy, Ben said, “but a lot of it is seat time.”

Some races, like the Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno race, which Vest Racing ran in August, are hundreds of miles long. Drivers and copilots lose pounds of water weight in races like these, and the dust sometimes gets thick enough they can't see more than a couple feet in front of them. Short-course races are less intense, but it still takes a lot of focus and there is always the potential for a wreck.

“When it’s time to put your helmet on and go to work, you just get into the zone,” Ben said. “You’ve worked hard and you want it to pay off.”

Though he’s keeping a plan B up his sleeve—to attend welding school in Wyoming and go on to help build race cars—Ben wants to first take a shot at making a living driving. “There’s a lot of opportunity,” he said. “I’d love to get into short-course racing and do this the rest of my life. I’m going to try.”

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