The weekend saw the North Nevada Rally return with drivers on area dirt roads, first in the Lovelock area and then around Purgatory Peak at the north end of Winnemucca Dry Lake. It was a fast two days with some unexpected excitement for a few drivers and their co-drivers.
In a rally two people compete, a driver and a co-driver. That second person is reading notes and letting the driver know what type of corner they are approaching and if it’s fast or slow.
After claiming the victory on Saturday, winner Andrew Lockhart, whose sister Robin is his co-driver, said, “I guess we pushed from the start and put in some good times as we knew there were a lot of fast people behind us. Some of them didn’t run yesterday so we figured we were warmed up so we put the foot down from the get go.”
And he did, turning a 9:57 on stage one that takes a competitor mainly up hill to the stage end. Then on the Purgatory side, which has a lot of downhill sections, he did a 12:45.
The effect was that Lockhart beat his nearest competitor, Pete Pollard, by over 2 minutes in the total time and was a good four minutes over third-place driver Erick Christiansen.
Asked about the course Lockhart said, “It’s a roller-coaster ride with lots of places to catch you out. On Purgatory, when you get over the crest you’ve got the downhill side and going either direction it can be pretty tricky, it’s soft to loose and lots of tight 3’s, exposures so you’ve got to keep it under control but still go fast.”
A corner in a rally is assigned an number so the co-driver can let the driver know about what speed he or she can take them at.
Going into the day Reno locals Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi looked like the team to beat, especially since they won Friday’s overall victory. However their luck ran out in Stage 4, the Purgatory downhill.
I think maybe we were getting a bit too exciting and the notes were called perfect so I could kind of match the road as it were,” Rademacher said. “I was going up to this left turn you could probably take at 65 and I was coming in about 80. I lost the rubber pads to the pedals and my foot actually slipped off the brake pedal when I needed to be on it for about a second more.
“And at that point we were just going in too hot buy as we started sliding off I actually turned down the hill so we it wouldn’t roll and we ended up driving down the hillside maybe 80 or 100 yards.”
Fortunately the car wasn’t hurt too badly in the wild ride down that hill and both occupants escaped injury. Rally cars are equipped with roll cages and the drivers are properly suited up in fire suits, helmets and use 5-point racing harnesses to secure them in their racing seats.
Then he added, “It kind of ended our quick run there. Friday was really fun and I’ve been trying to win this rally for the last couple of years but can’t seem to do it.”
Friday’s competition is a whole different ball game. The stages run from north of Toulon (West of Lovelock) and ends north of Trinity, where highway 95 joins I-80.
Teams run both stages twice then service their cars. After that it’s almost night and they run both stages twice but in the opposite direction using a variety of head lights and light bars.
Each stage in a rally is divided into blocks with people reporting when the cars go past them but suddenly one car, driven by the team of Leelyn Prichard and Logan Mineer didn’t reach the end of one block.
According to promoter Pete Sober, there was a frantic three minutes when no one knew what happened. They finally found both drivers, who were uninjured, that rode their car over a cliff and down a hillside.
At the end of Friday the team of Rademacher/Yi topped the chart with an elapsed time of 43:55 while the Lockhart team came in second with a time of 44:51.
Asked about running fast at night, Rademacher, who co-driver is his fiancé, said, “You really have to adapt to not nearly being able to see as much. And depending on what kind of lights you’re running, you’re kind of choosing, ‘do I want to see down the road really far or not what’s in front of me or see what’s in front me and not around the big sweeper.’”
In a Rally, teamwork between the driver and co-driver is always important, especially at night.
“It ups your dependency even more and it comes down to your trust level. Because you really have to commit to what they are telling you or you’re not going to be fast and you might not stay on the road,” he said.
At the awards gathering on Saturday evening, Sober revealed that the rally was almost canceled due to the lack of competitors and volunteers to run the event.
“We were a little down on the car count from last year, which was a bit of a disappointment, budgets were really tight, costs went up in a lot of areas. Unfortunately it’s going to cost us some money to make it happen this year,” Sober said. “And so we’re having some second thoughts about next year. We’re either going to have to find some sponsors or some other way to make it viable.
“On the other hand, competition as great and I think everybody that ran had a good time, we had an awesome volunteer crew, we had one pretty severe accident yesterday but driver and co-driver both walked away. Very low attrition all in all we started 14 cars to day and finished 12.”
•Also running on Saturday was the El Dorado Fireworks 500 off road race staged by HDRA (High Desert Racing Association.) Off road racing legend Rod Hall was the grand marshal and flagged the competitors off at 9 in the morning.
The drivers were competing on a 100+ mile course that would bring them into view many times during a lap. All told 66 cars were listed to start and motocycles were part of the event but their start was later in the day.
At the checkered flag the overall winner was Mike Mitchell racing a Class 1 buggy with an elapsed time of 10 hours, 43 minutes and 28 seconds. Taking second overall was another Class 1 buggy driven by Sparks auto shop owner Clayton Scudder, who had an elapsed time of 11 hours, 22 minutes and 10 seconds.
The first Open Truck, and third overall, was driven by James Horvath, who posted a time of 11 hours, 32 minutes and 17 seconds.
Attrition was high in this high-speed marathon run on a very hot day. Still overall the amount of competitors and crowd was apparently very good.
This pleased promoter Roger Norman, who said, “The turnout if fantastic, we’ve been working on this racecourse and this whole event for the last four months. And I’ve been out here, every day for 10 to 12-hours for the last two months. Putting on a good event isn’t easy but it’s worth it, because everything comes together.
“We’ve got all the right people involved, the Grand Marshal is Rod Hall and Ivan Stewart is doing the commentating for the TV show.”
He originally planned on a 6 a.m. start but moved it back. Next year Norman might want to start the event in the late afternoon so it runs all night and into the next morning.
•The racing week actually began at Rattlesnake Raceway with its annual 4th of July event, which features Fallon’s fireworks show. Among those present were 30-Out Law Karts, a growing class that encompasses everything from beginners to adults racing 500 cc karts.
After the fireworks, and to bring the curtain down on the night’s racing, was an epic IMCA Modified race. On the green track champion Shawn Natenstedt and Cory Sample were side-by-side leading the charge into Turn 1.
Two cautions slowed the pace but soon after the start the race came down to Sample, from Winnemucca and Reno based driver Jake Holland. Lap after lap they tore around the track nose-to-tail and sometimes almost side-by-side.
In the end they finished in that order and back in the pits Sample said, “I was holding off Jake or trying to for the last few laps. I knew somebody was there but I didn’t know exactly who it was but I felt the love the last couple of laps. It was fun to finally get a win here at Fallon.”
OTHER RACING NEWS
•Saturday’s racing action begins at 6:30 a.m. by the Terrible’s Travel Center in Fernley. The event is the U.S. 500 staged by VORRA and uses a course that stretches all the way to Lovelock and back.
The production and slowest classes launch at 6:30 while the faster Trucks and Buggies take off at 8:30 in the morning. According to Rod Hall the course is fast, technical and will let the competitors rip across the desert’s dirt roads.
That evening, starting at 7 p.m., American Valley Speedway in Quincy, Calif. hosts another of its points races. In addition to IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks the DART Dwarf Car series will be on hand to race on this paper clip shaped track.
•Three Nevada drivers raced at the Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
Friday night’s Nationwide race was won by Kurt Busch while his younger brother Kyle finished 23rd and Sparks native T.J. Bell fell to engine problems and wound up 39th.
In Saturday’s Sprint Cup event things didn’t go as well for the Busch brothers as Kyle ended up 34th and Kurt 35th at the end.
•North Nevada Rally:
Purgatory Peak - July 7
Overall Finish - 1. Andrew Lockart/Robin Lockhart, 67:02, 2. Pee Pollard/Seri Taver, 69:41, 3. Erik Christiansen/Amy Floyd, 4. Sarkis Mazmanian/M. Mazmanian, 5. John Black/Mara Estep
Lovelock - July 6
Overall Finish - 1. Alex Rademacher/Jeana Yi, 43:55, 2. Andrew Lockhart/Robin Lockhart, 44:51, 3. Michael Carnes/Reza Yazdani, 4. John Black/Mara Estep, 5. Chuck Wilson/Brent Elizey
•HDRA - El Dorado Fireworks 500
Overall Winners - 1. Mike Mitchell (L1-100-Class 1), 10:43:28, 2. Clayton Scudder (L1-100-Class1) 11:22:10, 3. James Horvath (Open Truck), 11:32:17, 4. David Norris (L2-1000-Class10) 11:56:21, 5. Jeremy Deakins (L4-1400 Sportsman, Ltd. Buggy), 11:37:56
•Rattlesnake Raceway - July 4
Heat Winners - 1. Mike Olsen, #2 Wes Washburn
Main - 1. Chris Neal, 2. Aaron Benham, 3. Annett Rinehart, 4. unlisted
Heat Winner - Missy Natenseted
Main - 1. Duncan Lee, 2. Missy Natenseted, 3. Scott Hammond, 4. Mark Rios, 5. Steve Young
Heat Winner - Al Bishop
Main - 1. Al Bishop, 2. Shawn Hartzell, 3. Steve Singley*, 4. Shawn Burton, 5. Jesse James
Heat Winners - #1 Cory Sample, #2 Jake Holland
Main - 1. Cory Sample, 2. Jake Holland, 3. Shawn Natenstedt, 4. Adam Walters, 5. Lee Bosch
Out Law Karts:
Class Winners - (Beginners) 17 Eric Lawson, (Box Stock) Caleb Gonzalez, (250cc) Eric Taylor, (500cc) Terry West