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Motor Madness comes to Reno, Sparks
by Dan McGee
Apr 01, 2013 | 3838 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan McGee — Chris Baum, president and CEO of the RSCVA, is using Northern Nevada's Motor Madness program to promote motor sports as well as other recreational opportunities in our area. Here, he stands by a case in his office that holds many motor sport related items.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee — Chris Baum, president and CEO of the RSCVA, is using Northern Nevada's Motor Madness program to promote motor sports as well as other recreational opportunities in our area. Here, he stands by a case in his office that holds many motor sport related items.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee — This year's Hot August Nights will receive national exposure as one part of the festival will be the first appearance of the Barrett-Jackson Auction during the week. The auction, held at the convention center, will draw a new group of visitors to the area and give the festival national TV exposure.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee — This year's Hot August Nights will receive national exposure as one part of the festival will be the first appearance of the Barrett-Jackson Auction during the week. The auction, held at the convention center, will draw a new group of visitors to the area and give the festival national TV exposure.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee — Two off-road events are on the Motor Madness list, including the Lucas Oil Off-Road race at the new Wild West Motor Sports Park east of Sparks. Here, two trucks, one driven by X-Games champion Matt Buyten, fly off a jump. The other event is the Reno 500 Off-Road Race staged by Roger Norman's HDRA series.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee — Two off-road events are on the Motor Madness list, including the Lucas Oil Off-Road race at the new Wild West Motor Sports Park east of Sparks. Here, two trucks, one driven by X-Games champion Matt Buyten, fly off a jump. The other event is the Reno 500 Off-Road Race staged by Roger Norman's HDRA series.
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Tribune photo by Dan McGee — The field of TAG Master karts take off at the start of a heat race during the NNKC's tune-up race Saturday. The club has joined the World Karting Association and will host a national event this summer at Desert Park Raceway.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee — The field of TAG Master karts take off at the start of a heat race during the NNKC's tune-up race Saturday. The club has joined the World Karting Association and will host a national event this summer at Desert Park Raceway.
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RENO — Northern Nevada's Motor Madness, the new marketing theme for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, is an effort to promote special events in this area. And the man heading it is RSCVA President and CEO Chris Baum.

"I'm a gear head and I love all vehicles," he said. "If it goes fast, is cool or interesting and has an engine in it, count me in."

The inspiration comes from his previous experience.

"I came here from Detroit and during my six years there, I observed there were a lot of special events that had a lot of prospective customers in common but they weren't doing anything with each other," he said.

He observed they were doing their own marketing and only talking with their individual customer base.

"It seemed to me, as the new guy in town, it would make a lot of sense for them to have some economies of scale, synergies and co-op thing," he said.

He suggested each have booths from other events, make announcements, hand out materials and spread the word about other related happenings.

"If you're a gear head, chances are you'd be interested in some of these other things you might not be aware of," he said. "So we started doing that, it was extremely successful, very cost effective and it's still going strong back there in the Motor City."

He saw the same situation when he arrived in Reno.

"So when I got here I saw a similar situation with the exception that we have something even more unique," he said. "And that's what I call 'piston powered events,' as they're all having to do with the internal combustion engine in some form. These are all events that appeal to people that like engines, racing and like machinery."

The list includes the Air Races, Hot August Nights, racing personal watercraft at the Sparks Marina as well as off-road events and motorcycle racing. He cited the new Wild West Motorsports Park east of Sparks and how successful the Lucas Oil Off Road Championship event was, especially since it had TV coverage, great sponsors and great attendance.

The jewel in the crown this year is bringing the Barrett-Jackson auction to town during Hot August Nights. The opportunity presented itself due to one of the venues not working out.

"They were having some issues in Orange County as the facility didn't evolve in the way they were hoping it would so they were open to thinking about other locations," he said. "Somebody who worked for Barrett-Jackson knew about Hot August Nights up here and contacted his friends at HAN."

After the conversations began, it became clear the Reno-Sparks Convention Center would be the appropriate venue for an event the size of these auctions.

"So HAN contacted us, initially they were the middle man and we didn't deal directly with Barrette-Jackson. Then the process kind of stalled so we got Craig Jackson up here and met with our friends at Hot August Nights and senior executives from Barrett-Jackson," he said. "There were some issues that weren't working out for them, I was able to make some concessions at the convention center then they went back home and said, 'OK, let's make this work.'"

This past Christmas, Baum found there was a substantial marketing budget that needed to be supported and he was able to get that in place. In addition five area hotels have agreed to supply room blocks for Barrett-Jackson.

"The major partnership is between Hot August Nights and Barrett-Jackson on the operational side since it's taking place within the envelope of the week of HAN. And also with the RSCVA as it's all taking place at the convention center," he said. "We've had to make the concessions and come up with the marketing dollars to get that 24 hours of live TV coverage, which is really the prize for this thing."

That TV exposure is three live, eight-hour shows during Hot August Nights. Later they'll be edited and rerun during the following year until the 2014 Hot August Nights.

"So it's really incredible marketing opportunity for us to promote our region. The initial contract is for three years and they hope to extend that," he said.

The official title of the event is, The Hot August Nights Auction by Barrett-Jackson.

Baum added that the Reno is the furthest north Barrett-Jackson has an auction and it's closer for their buyers that come from the Bay Area.

Of course this and the other events listed in Motor Madness have one goal, to bring people from out of the area here. This means room nights for area hotels and motels, not to mention restaurants and will expose visitors to what we have to offer, not just for motor sports but also for other types of recreational activities.

"We'll be looking at adding additional events in the future as they are either designed, added, or something rises to the next level," he said. "All these events bring people into hotel rooms and ultimately that's what pays our bills around this organization."

He feels the effort will take this area's prominence in motorsports to the next level.

Asked about the response he's gotten, Baum said, "Everybody, to a man or a woman, has stepped up and said, 'count us in, this is great.'"

The RSCVA will have a booth at this week's Barrett-Jackson auction to provide information not only about the Reno event but to expose attendees to other events like the Air Races, off-road races and the Kind of the West Sprint Car series.

And they'll bring news about Motor Madness to the other Barrett-Jackson auctions as well.

•This Saturday the Northern Nevada Kart Club held its annual tune-up race. It's a non-points race that allows drivers a chance to be out on the track, dust off their racing cobwebs and check the set ups on their karts.

It also offers the youngest drivers a chance to experience what a start is like as well as racing around the track at Desert Park Raceway.

"Today's our tune-up race to kick off our season and we had 45 entries, which is better than anything we had last year," Brian Rivera, the club's president, said. "To have that many entries in this first race bodes well for the club looking forward to the future."

Rivera noted that membership is up for this time of the year and he takes this as a positive sign.

"Right now we're sitting at about 50 members and we're just at the end of March," he said. "We're hoping for at least 80 or 90 full memberships and with memberships come families and when you start talking about the whole entire package you're looking at 300 or 400 people involved in the club."

This year there will be six classes racing with the NNKC and the club is reintroducing the Junior 1 class.

"It's going to be a Junior 1 Clone with a Harbor Freight $100 motor and that's going to be mixed in with our Komer 80 Junior 1 class," he said.

After that come the TAG classes, Novices, Masters and Seniors. The Shifter classes, F80 and F125 Stock Moto remain, as does the Senior Clone division, which is an economical starting division.

The TAG Masters class has grown the most with drivers coming up from the Clones while others are switching from the shifter ranks. With 18 drivers signed up there should be nine rows on the grid.

This year brings a change in sanctioning bodies as the club has left the International Karting Federation.

"We're now a WKA (World Karting Association) sanctioned track, not only us but the eight tracks in Northern California have also switched," he said.

And the club will also be hosting a national event.

"We're going to have a WKA race, on June 22-23, it's a national race and we're hoping everyone can come out and watch that," he said. "We're going to have drivers from Utah, California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. You're going to have top drivers, top teams and the racing will be excellent."

This probably means that some of those WKA drivers will come up to race with the NNKC prior to that national event. That way they'll have a chance to figure out a set up for this track.

With the tune up race in the books the club is looking forward to opening its points season on April 14.

OTHER RACING NEWS

•This Saturday Rattlesnake Raceway opens its 2013 season with a full slate of classes including Outlaw Karts and the new Sport Mod division. Racing starts at 6 p.m. and the track is located just east of downtown Fallon.

•North of Reno and east of Doyle, Calif., the Lassen Motorcycle Club stages the Diamond Back 100, round 3 of the MRANN series.

Saturday's action begins at 9 a.m. with a Pee Wee race followed by Mini Bikes and the V Women events. Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. the big bikes race on a 33-mile course and the fastest riders will do three laps before the checkered.

•Northern Nevada's Motor Madness Events List

1. May through October - King of the West Sprint Car Series, Reno/Tahoe/Fernley Raceway

2. June 7-9, Street Vibrations Spring Rally

3. June 14-16, Reno Rockabilly Riot

4. June 20-30, U.S. Open of Watercross, Sparks Marina

5. July 6-14, Reno 500 Off-Road Race, Reno and Tahoe-Reno Motorplex

6. August 6-11, Hot August Nights, Aug. 8-10 Hot August Nights Auction presented by Barrett-Jackson

7. August 23-25, Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing, Wild West Motor Sports Park

8. September 11-15, National Championship Air Races, 50th anniversary, Reno (Stead) Airport

9. September 25-29, Street Vibrations Fall Rally, Reno/Sparks

10. September 26-29, AMA Pro Flat Track Motorcycle Race, Reno/Tahoe/Fernley Raceway
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