Mittag Takes an Unconventional Route to the Race Track

by Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series

Corona, California (May 4, 2016) - Doug Mittag's off-road race shop in Temecula, California, is 15 minutes from Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park and about an hour from Glen Helen Raceway, where the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series presented by GEICO will be on July 23-24 for rounds 9 and 10 of this year's championship series.

The way Mittag gets from the shop to the track is extremely unconventional, though. It involves a 90-mile drive from Temecula to Los Angeles International Airport, a 10-hour flight from LAX to Tokyo, another 10-hour flight from Tokyo to the Philippines, and three 4-hour flights from the Philippines to Kalimantan, Indonesia. Then he does it all in reverse two or three weeks later.

Mittag said it takes about 68 hours total to make the 17,000-mile round trip. He's done it often enough to know, too (eight trips and over 100 flights last year), because Indonesia – a nation of thousands of islands with a population of 250 million people who speak more than 300 languages – is the headquarters of Jhonlin Group and the Jhonlin Racing Team, his major sponsor.

Mittag, his father Chad and about a half-dozen crew members usually make the long trips, one of which began a day after Mittag made his official return to the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series by finishing 11th and 5th in Pro 2 and 4th and 6th in Pro 4 in the season-opening event at Chandler, Arizona, March 19-20 and ended last Saturday (April 17).

Once there, the group the Indonesians have dubbed “the crazy Americans” for their willingness to make such a commute put their talents to work building, testing and developing off-road vehicles for Jhonlin’a local teams and drivers to use in the Indonesia eXtreme Off Road Championship, a competition Mittag said has grown tremendously in the two-plus years he's been involved.

It's a unique situation, but in many ways not much different than the one the Mittags were in when Doug started racing.

“They're our first big sponsor,” Mittag said of Jhonlin. “Before this all we had was my dad's fab(rication) shop, so we were workings for other teams. If we weren't doing this we'd be building trucks in the shop (Custom Off-Road Design). Either way we're busy, but this is a whole new experience for sure.

“We're giving up some time on the (Pro 2 and Pro 4) trucks and stuff like that (while traveling), but my mom (Shari) is here and we've got a crew of really good guys that have been with us forever working on the trucks and giving them love. When I'm over in Indonesia I race as well, so I'm also getting seat time. Almost every day I'm driving something. It is a little drawback, but that's what we've got to do to make it all work.”

The work seems to be paying off.

Mittag (pronounced MIT-tag) started racing about eight years ago. The 22-year-old Temecula resident finished second in the SR1 UTV class in 2011 and 11th in Pro Lite in 2012, then moved to the midwest at the insistence of the team's sponsors. He came back to the Lucas Oil series for last season's final weekend, finishing fifth in the Pro 2-Pro 4 Challenge Cup and second in the Pro Lite Challenge Cup in his final race in that class.

In March, they headed for Arizona with a Pro 2 Ford they'd raced in 2015 and a new Maxxis/Custom Off-Road Design Pro 4 Ford, then had what Mittag termed a “pretty tough” weekend.

“The biggest thing is, we've already got a year in the Pro 2, which is awesome, so we're getting that thing pretty dialed in,” he said. “But the Pro 4 I didn't really have any test time going into the weekend. I drove it maybe eight laps.”

As a result of that, Mittag drove both races “just cruising and making sure of the gears,” but still finished fourth and sixth (while running the final two laps with no tire and wheel on the right rear).

Mittag has raced and tested frequently at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park and called the high-speed track with its daunting jumps one of his favorites as he prepared for the recent Rockstar Energy SoCal Shootout presented by Toyota.

His results there were almost a replay of Arizona. He started on the Pro 4 pole in round 3 and led the race until his transmission started to fail and finished third, then was ninth in round 4 after a rollover on lap 12. In Pro 2 he qualified fifth and finished 10th in round 3, then qualified 10th and finished fifth in round 4.

Those results left Mittag eighth in the Pro 2 standings, but just five points behind fifth-place Jeremy McGrath, and sixth in Pro 4, 12 points behind second-place Bryce Menzies.

Next up May 21-22 are the E-3 Spark Plugs Utah Off-Road Nationals presented by GEICO at the Utah Motorsports Campus, a track Mittag last saw in 2012, when it was called Miller Motorsports park and he finished 11th and 8th in the Pro Lite class.

Original Article