After a few years absence, the race was able to return to Caliente and race director Tom High said a lot of the reason was the doing of the city itself. “They have pushed a lot for us to come back. They like having us here, and we enjoy coming. We hope we can keep returning.”
He said the town welcomes the racers and crews. “Also the terrain, the mountains, it’s just a totally different track. It’s more challenging, going from a low desert to the high desert. A very fun family get together, too.”
SNORE Public Information officer Mike Henle noted the race drew a field of 89 entries competing over a 42-mile course complete with everything from water crossings to wooden bridges and the traditional challenges faced by off-road racers in what must be considered one of the most unique logistical combinations in the sport.
“Rich in history and eager to welcome outdoor enthusiasts,” Henle wrote, “this charming town with friendly people and a slower lifestyle served as the perfect getaway for many; and with limited availability for off-road events, the latest presentation attracted earth-rumbling machinery, fun-loving serious race teams along with wounded members of the military who joined the competition by running shotgun in a Ford Ranger Trophy Truck with driver Tony Scott, a 49 year-old U.S. Navy veteran of Desert Storm who powered-handled the driving.”
Las Vegas native Fernie Padilla, a 30 year-old racer powering a Class 1-2 1600 entry, captured class and overall victories in the event. It was his first overall victory in the SNORE series, driving a car owned by Southern California businessman Vick Ziegler.
A graduate of Silverado High School who works for his parents at Freedom Medical Supply in Las Vegas, Padilla had the time of his life recording a four-lap effort of 4 hours, 31.17 minutes.
“It was a fun race,” Padilla said. “I really loved the course and I didn’t have a single problem. The scenery was really amazing.”
Padilla did not know he had won the overall title until it was announced at the banquet Saturday night and he received the $2,500 first place money.
“It’s unheard of for a 1600 to win overall,’ he said. “We only have about 80 horsepower.”
Last year, Padilla won three class titles in SNORE racing, and had a second place finish at Primm earlier this year.
High said all of faster cars, all the way up to the heavy metals, were making four laps, while all the rest were doing three laps. “The stock bug class was doing three laps, instead of two,” he said, “because this was a championship race for them.”
High said many of the racers said they were having a great time. “We have a lot of new racers here for the first time.”
The blockbuster weekend kicked off May 28 with SNORE’s annual Meet and Greet at Caliente Elementary School.
SNORE President Kenny Freeman said the event was wildly-successful and heralded by the Bureau of Land Management and others involved with the preparation and follow up with the event.
In fact, Henle noted, “Freeman said the following was so strong that it actually caught Caliente businesses off-guard. By Saturday afternoon, the only problem was that the local merchants ran out of bottled water, ice and beer.”
“It was a great event,” said Freeman, “and we’ll be back. We love Caliente.”