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VORRA U.S. 500 ends with narrow victory
by Dan McGee - Special to the Tribune
Sep 03, 2013 | 2076 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Sam Conthrun, along with co-driver Nicolai Caviglia, takes checkered flag Sunday, winning the U.S. 500 staged by VORRA. Despite fuel issues on the final lap they still finished a scant four seconds ahead of the second-place truck driven by Chris and Walker German.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Sam Conthrun, along with co-driver Nicolai Caviglia, takes checkered flag Sunday, winning the U.S. 500 staged by VORRA. Despite fuel issues on the final lap they still finished a scant four seconds ahead of the second-place truck driven by Chris and Walker German.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Chris German, along with his son Walker, begin their final lap during Sunday's U.S. 500. They overcame a flat tire and about six minutes to finish four seconds behind the winning truck driven by Sam Cothrun.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Chris German, along with his son Walker, begin their final lap during Sunday's U.S. 500. They overcame a flat tire and about six minutes to finish four seconds behind the winning truck driven by Sam Cothrun.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee - On its way to the Class 1 victory, the buggy of Mike Lehners, tears out onto the course at Yerington. The team used several drivers and co-drivers but still managed not only their class victory but finished fourth overall in Sunday's 500-mile race.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - On its way to the Class 1 victory, the buggy of Mike Lehners, tears out onto the course at Yerington. The team used several drivers and co-drivers but still managed not only their class victory but finished fourth overall in Sunday's 500-mile race.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Motocross professional rider Tyler Pfeifer (left) held a school at his private track in Lemmon Valley this weekend. The two-day school began with students practicing starts under his watchful eye. Here Max Case (211n) takes off while Tyler Gunn (44G) watches.
Not shown are fellow students Connor Jardine, Austin Johnson and Caleb Frandsen.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Motocross professional rider Tyler Pfeifer (left) held a school at his private track in Lemmon Valley this weekend. The two-day school began with students practicing starts under his watchful eye. Here Max Case (211n) takes off while Tyler Gunn (44G) watches. Not shown are fellow students Connor Jardine, Austin Johnson and Caleb Frandsen.
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YERINGTON - The Valley Off Road Racing Association (VORRA) ended the desert part of its season this weekend with the staged the annual U.S. 500. The featured a new venue, using part of a known course with miles added to it.

More than 30 trucks, buggies and UTVs showed up to challenge the 65-mile plus course that had every thing from rocky sections to a flat-out run down a paved road.

Usually these races end with the winner finishing minutes ahead of their nearest rival. But on this day both the first- and second-place trucks took the checkered flag about four seconds apart, ending what was a race-long battle for the victory.

"It was a pretty exciting last lap," Sam Cothrun said after reaching the checkered flag first. "We had six minutes on him but the fuel issue, whether it was vapor lock or running out of fuel, we were cutting it close.

The race started at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and the drivers were allotted 20 hours to finish the 500 mile course. Faster drivers would complete the eight laps in less than 12 hours.

Cothrun launched at 6:06 while second-place finished Don German, with his son Chris as co-driver, started three minutes later.

The Germans came into the race hot after wing their third Vegas to Reno race a few weekends ago. It took a lap two to get the lead but once that happened the chase was on.

The German and Cothrun trucks shaved a full six minutes off their time after the first lap.

Up front, Don German and his co-driver son Chris, were setting the pace while behind them, the team of Cody Bullock with co-driver Matt Cummings, were in full chase mode.

At the halfway mark Don German, 72, got out and his 39-year-old son Chris, moved to the driver's seat while his son, 14-year-old Walker took his place in the co-driver's seat. Three generations of German men were racing on this day.

About five minutes behind them Cothrun got behind the wheel of his truck while Nicolai Caviglia strapped into the co-driver's seat.

During the day the German's suffered three flats including one on the seventh lap that all but wiped out their time advantage.

"A rock jumped out in front of me," Chris said later.

Still he and his son had enough time to change the tire, get back in and hang onto the lead. The two trucks started the final lap 12 seconds apart.

With three minutes between their starting times Cothrun would have won on the adjusted times but kept on pressing. And that final lap proved to be an adventure for both driver teams.

About 10 miles into the course lap the German truck suffered another flat tire.

"They got two flats on the last lap and we had no flats in the race. Our only issue was fuel in the last part of the last lap," he said. "We had about six minutes on him but between the fuel issue whether it was vapor lock or just running out of fuel we we're cutting it close."

Cothrun had to stop at two different checkpoints to get the gas needed to keep going. All the while the German's were making up the six minutes they were behind the leader.

In their final charge toward the finish the German's almost caught Cothrun, who held on to reach the checkered flag first.

After the dust settled, and he caught his breath, he said, "Pretty proud of this Samco Fabrication truck, it's something we built in house, we designed in house so pretty proud to be able to win this race. Two years ago we overalled this race as well in the same truck and the competition level has ramped up in the last few years."

Luck was also on Cothrun's side as the truck's rear housing had split during that final lap and leaked most of its oil. If it had failed, the truck would have been stranded out on the course.

"I don't know why it had to be the last lap to happen," Chris German said of his problems on the final lap. "Give me one more lap and we'll see what might happen. This course by the last lap got pretty mean."

Behind the leaders VORRA boss Wes Harbor, was having an adventure of his own. After his first driver completed the front-half of the race, he was in the driver's seat and it appeared he just might win the Class 10 division.

However about an eighth of a mile before the checkered flag his buggy suffered a broken trailing arm. While welding it he saw the buggy driven by Mike Decker go by on his way to scoring the class victory and finishing fifth overall.

Another local having a good day was Mike Lehners, who traded drivers and co-drivers in his Class 1 buggy. While others fell out due to problems, his buggy won the day.

Attrition took its toll and during the event as several wounded trucks and buggies had to be rescued and brought back to the pits. In fact only 11 racers actually finished the event.

The final driver to reach the finish line within the time allotted was Robert Dalton driving a UTV as he ended the marathon with an elapsed time of 19 hours, 52 minutes and 11 seconds.

Now VORRA heads to the Sacramento area for its annual fall short-track season. This year however, the series returns to this area for its final event at the Wild West Motorsports Track on Sunday, Oct. 27.

• This weekend MX pro Tyler Pfeifer hosted a motocross school, the first of several he has planned. Fiver riders, Tyler Gunn, Connor Jardine, Max Case, Austin Johnson and Caleb Fransen showed up for tips on everything from starts to going over jumps.

At first Pfeifer showed students how to do the task at hand. Then asked them do it, making suggestions and has them repeat the section.

The school is a good way for young riders sharpen their skills and tune up for the upcoming Arenocross in November. Those wishing further information should contact Pfeifer at his e-mail address; dirtshark91@aol.com.

OTHER RACING NEWS

• Three different series are in action this weekend.

Area drag racers end their season this weekend at the Top Gun Raceway with a two-day show starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The rounds covered are ET 9 and 10 while the Junior Dragsters compete in rounds 8 and 9 of their series.

Closer to home, the first round of this year's SMRA series will be at the Fernley Lion's Motocross Track. Practice is on Saturday and racing begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

And the Fernley Speedway will host its next points race featuring IMCA Modifides, the rest of the car classes and the Outlaw Karts. Racing begins at 6 p.m. Saturday.

• NASCAR'S Las Vegas trio was split this weekend with the Busch Brothers racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway while Brendan Gaughan competed in the Camping World truck race at Motorsport Park in Canada where he finished 18th.

In Saturday's Nationwide race Kyle Busch started on the pole and finished second. When Sunday's Sprint Cup event ended Kyle won and clinched a spot in the chase while older brother Kurt didn't do so well and ended up 32nd.

RESULTS

VORRA U.S. 500 - Yerington*

Over All Finishers - 1. Sam Cathrun (Group T), 2. Don German (Group T), 3. Dave Schnieder (Ultra 4), 4. Mike Lehners (Class 1), 5. Mike Decker (Class 10), 6. Brendan Fowler, (Group T), 7. Wes Harbor (Class 10), 8. Matt Mvres (Full Metal), 9. Max Baggett (Sportsman, 10. Scott Sibbald (Sportsman), 11. Robert Dalton (UTV)

* - Full results are on VORRA's website, www.VORRA.net.

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