The renowned band Credence Clearwater Revival recorded “Who’ll Stop the Rain” back in 1970 and the song could have been the perfect theme for the June 10-11 running of the Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts Driven Experiences 250 off-road race.
There is no question about the fact that this tiny town about 160 miles north of Las Vegas always presents a fascinating combination of challenges ranging from streams to trees and hills that literally put the ultimate thrill in a sport known for terrain that eats up many competitors and their machinery.
Some 95 cars and their teams converged on this picturesque town known for its history related to mining and a railroad dating back almost 100 years.
What the field didn’t anticipate was the rain that dominated the scenery a short time before the green flag was to drop.
Drivers are accustomed to dust, rocks and yes, the trees and the streams in Caliente, but the muddy conditions created by the heavy rains provided yet another unexpected bump in the road in a sport known for its never-ending scenes of “uh oh” environments.
In fact, in a sport that generally welcomes rain because it keeps the dust to a minimum, the rain in Caliente was so intense that some drivers even unsuccessfully attempted to have the event postponed.
Indeed, the show had to go on as drivers and their co-drivers put their heads down, made sure to wipe off their goggles on a regular basis and proceeded to put on a show that drivers and their crews – and the spectators — will be talking about for years to come.
In fitting fashion, a young resident of Caliente won the Class 12 competition and you can bet that Colton Gubler has pictures in his mind of the jumps, the rocks and yes, the rain. A former desert motorcycle racer, the 21 year-old Gubler had the time of his life although he admitted that the race was a challenging endeavor.
“The rain started at about 4 in the morning,” Gubler said. “It was coming down really hard.”
Gubler said he drove smart and kept his head on his shoulders.
“You would wipe your lens and all of a sudden, there would be more mud on them. I had a little bit of an advantage because I live in Caliente. But you have to remember that we all had the same challenges.”
Gubler said he had no troubles during the first three laps, but the final lap was nothing less than interesting.
“We started losing a motor and pretty much lost it all together at the end,” he said. “Our final lap took 10 minutes longer than usual simply because there was nothing left of the engine.”
Gubler said his radio malfunctioned right at the start of the race thanks to the rain presenting even bigger worries.
“My co-rider Kali Nguyen and I gave each other a lot of hand signals,” said Gubler, who is involved in the construction business with his father, Regen, in Caliente. “You could say that it was like a big boat race thanks to the rain.”
For Gubler, the win was his second straight Caliente triumph since he also won the Class 12 title in 2015.
“This year, we are going for a championship in Class 12,” Gubler said. “We’re either going to compete in some different series next year, or advance to another class and stay in SNORE. Caliente has sure been good to me.”
Gubler, who spent 12-13 years in Las Vegas before moving to Caliente in 2005, said he loves the support the sport receives in Caliente.
“Off-roading wouldn’t be the same without the people of Caliente,” he said. “They are more than supportive and there is a big following for the local drivers. It’s perfect up here and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. You can’t beat it out here and what makes things even better is that you can climb into your race car and be off into the desert in just a few minutes.”
Other winners included John Bartol (Class 1 Unlimited); Ron Whitton (Unlimited Truck) Anthony Perrucci (Class 10); Jason Duncan (Class 13); Jonas Helm (Class 7); Tyler Peterson (Class 9); Steve Bertrand (Stock Bug); Marc Van Tussel (StockFull Class); Justin Lombardo (SXS Limited); Kevin Thompson (Class 1450); Josh Tadesco (Class 15 Unlimited Sport); Curt Geer (Class 16).
Geer captured his third race win of the year for SNORE, which will present the annual Midnight Special July 29-30 in Jean south of Las Vegas.
Further information about SNORE can be found by visiting www.snoreracing.net.