Special to the Tribune
PURGATORY PEAK - After an absence of two years the North Nevada Rally returned to the dirt roads of our area. Unlike an oval track race, the cars and motorcycles race against the clock over several stages.
This time there were two night stages run on Friday evening west of Lovelock. When the dust settled the Idaho based team of Richard Rockrohr and navigator Marie Jacobs set the fastest times of the night.
On the motorcycle side, or Moto, Chris Martin showed his two-wheeled competitors he was going to be very hard to catch on his KTM.
Two stages were used for the daylight competition and the competitors ran them twice one way, took a break for service, and then ran them twice in the opposite direction.
One is at the north end of Winnemucca Dry Lake while the other, about five miles of north, is the road coming down from Purgatory Peak.
That northern stage handed the officials a Nevada style challenge. Prior to the stage being run two or three cars travel it at speed just to check and make sure things are ready.
One of these drivers came across some cows and had to play buckaroo as he shooed them away from the road. Back at the starting area all the competitors were given the message to be on the lookout for cows around a certain mileage point.
Once again it appeared the team of Rickrohr and Jacobs held the hot hand until they hit a rock that damaged a control arm. That led to their eventual retirement.
This opened the door for the driver/navigator team of Andrew and Robin Lockhart to hustle their VW Golf to the overall and class victory. Over on the Moto side, once again Martin stormed his KTM to the overall victory.
The event might return next year if those that organized it feel their efforts were successful. One good sign was the largest car and motorcycle count of the event's short life.
• Fans at the Rattlesnake Raceway had an action packed night ahead of them. And the officials, facing the first very warm night of the season, had to keep watering so the surface wouldn't completely dry out.
So some of the racers faced a somewhat damp or wet slick track while others had to deal with the more normal dry-slick conditions. It became apparent which driver could deal with the changing conditions.
After the dust settled on the IMCA feature a local driver scored his second victory in as many races.
"The track today was just slick, slick, slick and it was all throttle control tonight and trying not to break those tires loose," Jay Sears said back in the pits. "It was a fun race and I was glad to start out in the front and not be in the back as there was a lot of crashin'."
Things began to happen right when the green waved on the field as Don Hall's car suffered driveline failure and he needed to be pushed to the pits. After the field reformed it would take two more cautions before racing resumed.
Early on Shawn Natenstedt spun out of contention and fell a lap down but, up front, Sears had the point. There was a red flag period on lap 12 after a large scrum of spinning cars almost completely blocked the track.
Due to the late hour the officials lopped five laps off the race but there would be one more quick caution before the race resumed in earnest.
Up front Natenstedt caught Sears but was unable to get past.
"I think Shawn was trying to tell me he was a lap down but I was scared to let him in front of me," Sears said. "I'm glad he was there and putting the pressure on and making me go hard."
For the final laps Natenstedt was close to Sears with actual second place Randy Brown not far behind. In the end Sears reached the checkered first followed by Brown and Malen Gonzalez.
The Pro Stock feature also had a troubled start when Chris Coclich wound up in the backstretch wall right after the green waved. While he wasn't hurt and able to continue it appeared the impact skewed the alignment of his front wheels.
By the time the field had raced seven green flag laps there had been four cautions. Up front Gary Nevers was one of the leaders but not far behind points leader Jesse Gonzalez was moving forward with a series of outside passes.
When the final caution ended Gonzalez and Robby Grace held the first two places and they would finish in that order. Nevers slipped back to fourth while Dean Chicowitz claimed third.
"It was pretty tough starting that far back and with the competition as there were a lot of new cars and I didn't know if I was going to get to the front in time," Gonzalez said. "I kind of held off a little bit and waited to see if there were going to be any wrecks so I wouldn't be involved in any of them. I thought the track was great, a little bit slicker than I expected, but it was good."
As usual the largest field were the Hobby Stocks and since both the points leader and winner of the last race start at the back, they faced a daunting task.
Jacob Baker grabbed the point but the race slowed for a caution on lap 5 followed by another one right after the green came back out. Bouncing off the back straight wall ended Baker's day and as he limped to the pits, his car lost a tire.
By now the official cut this race to 25-laps from the original 30. When the green waved again one car stalled on the backstretch and somehow everyone missed the car but it took a few more minutes to set things right, especially when two cars hooked bumpers and had to be pulled apart.
With time running out the race was cut to 20-laps, which meant it was an 8-lap sprint to the finish when the final green waved.
Up front Alec Childs stormed into the lead only to have his advantage cut by a caution with three to go. On the green he took off for the win followed by Tony Taylor, driving the car Chris Neal usually pilots, and Wes Washburn.
Points leader Richard Italiano wasn't able to overcome the clot of traffic in front of him but his patient style earned him fourth place.
Back in the pits the delighted Childs said, "It's my first main event win ever and I just did what I could. I started eighth but once you got out front and through the traffic it was pretty smooth sailing. And I want to thank my family and everybody that helps and supports me."
Once again, for the second week in a row, Dennis Crook won the Mini Mod feature. And like last time he was chased to the line by his brother Stephen Crook followed by early leader Will Ritchey.
"It was pretty good and I figured out where to run before the race started and I think I figured it out before anybody else," Dennis Crook said. "I looked across the track, saw everybody and realized I was doing good. Later on I looked across and didn't see anybody and I go, 'that means everybody is on me.' So I stepped it up and held the line where it would have been very hard to pass me."
Alex Pettit joined the ranks of those that scored two wins in as many weeks when he took the Bomber feature. Cody Thunder and Steve Foster were first and second in the GenX main while Duncan Lee won the 318 Rat Mod feature.
OTHER RACING NEWS
• The biggest event this week is the third annual Octane Fest in Fallon. There's something for about any motorsport fan in venues around the town.
Things start Thursday evening with a benefit banquet featuring motocross legend, and former Indy Car driver, Jeff Ward.
On Friday the Top Gun Raceway hosts the three-day Lucas Oil Nationals featuring the Alcohol Funny Cars and Dragsters. The alcohol cars qualify Saturday and, starting at 9 a.m. Sunday, the finals will be run in a show that includes Diesel Drags.
Rattlesnake Raceway, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, hosts another of its regular shows before taking the annual summer break.
The fairgrounds hosts several free shows Saturday but the real action begins at 7:30 p.m. either in the arena or next door at the new motocross track.
A MX and Endurocross will be held at the MX track while the area is where the Tuff Trucks will run followed by the Super Lites Invitational.
The Invitational, using off road trucks, has an all-star line up of drivers including MX legend "Showtime," Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Johnson, Jeff Ward as well as other off-road racers including John Harrah.
A full listing of the events can be found at: www.octanefest.com.
On Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., the Northern Nevada Kart Club hosts another of its points races at Desert Park Raceway while over in Hawthorne the Sierra MX series will be in action at that MX track.
• NASCAR's Las Vegas trio was split up this weekend. Brendan Gaughan was at the Nashville Super Speedway where he finished 13th in Saturday's Nationwide event.
On Sunday the Busch brothers raced at the Pocono track where Kyle ended up second after a green-white-checkered finish while his older brother Kurt ended up sixth in the final-laps charge.
• Rattlesnake Raceway - June 5
Heat Winners - #1 Shawn Natenstedt, #2 Randy Brown, #3 Jeffery Macedo
Main (25-Laps) - 1. Jay Sears, 2. Randy Brown, 3. Malen Gonzalez, 4. Robert Miller, 5. Jeffrey Macedo
Heat Winners - #1 Josh Ogg, #2 Jesse Gonzalez
Main (25-Laps) - 1. Jesse Gonzalez, 2. Rob Grace, 3. Dean Chicowitz, 4. Gary Nevers, 5. Josh Ogg
Heat Winners - #1 Jim Renfro, #2 Missy Natenstedt, #3 Richard Italiano
Main (20-Laps) - 1. Alec Childs, 2. Tony Taylor, 3. Wes Washburn, 4. Richard Italiano, 5. Brian Moore
Heat Winner - Chris Jimenez
Main (15-Laps) - 1. Alex Pettit, 2. Bryan Kaster, 3. Chris Jimenez, 4. Annette Rinehart, 5. Timothy Hoult
Heat Winner - Will Ritchey
Main (20-Laps) - 1. Dennis Crook, 2. Stephen Crook, 3. Will Ritchey, 4. Justin McIlvain, 5. Aaron McLlvain
Heat Winner - Lee Ketten
Main (20-Laps) - 1. Duncan Lee, 2. David Woods, 3. Mark Lee, 4. Steve Singley, 5. Barry Napps
Heat Winners - #1 Cody Thunder, #2 Steve Foster
Main (25-Laps) - 1. Cody Thunder, 2. Steve Foster, 3. Shawn Hartzell, 4. John Schilling, 5. Brandon Games
• North Nevada Rally - June 4/5
Overall - 1 Andrew Lockhart / Robin Lockhart , VW Golf , 1:31:57, CRS-2*, 2 John Black / Katianna Pihakari, Ranger, 1:37:08, Perf Stk*, 3 Alex Rademacher / John Stewart, Impreza Base, 1:40:44, Perf Stk, 4 Jim Robison / Michael Robison, Volvo 142, 2:09:45, Perf Stk,
DNFs - Richard Rockrohr/M. Jacobs, Kevin Ortega/Dylan Velasquez, ErikChristiansen/Amy Floyd, Albert Kun/Dan Norkus
Overall - 1 Chris Martin, KTM EXC, 1:25:40, Under 800*, 2 Andrew Sutherland, KTM Enduro, 1:27:10, Under 800, 3 Dennis Boone, KTM, 1:35:29, Over 800*, 4. Noah Horak KTM Adventure 1:41:22, Under 800
*- Class Winners
** - Both driver and navigator are listed for the cars.