Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Silver State Showdown

Sparks’ Wild West Motorsports Park opens with the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, Rounds 11 & 12.

Photos by Matthew B. Bown

The track at the new Wild West Motorsports Park east of Reno/Sparks is reminiscent of a rock quarry with rocky hills and plateaus forming a V-shaped loop. Construction started on the venue, built locally courtesy of Norm Dianda's Q&D Construction, on June 6 and was completed August 20.

During my visit on opening day, Saturday, August 25, the desert sun beat down on the park—with little natural shade, the breeze and cloud cover provided welcome relief from the heat. Because of the dry conditions, dust is common, so water trucks occasionally drove through the vendor area to spray down the dirt.

In place of a ribbon, a red pace truck started each race. The truck led the vehicles around for one lap before exiting the track at the start of the straight-away. What came next was a high-speed, heart-pumping adrenaline rush as the vehicles took off for the drop of the starting flag. As they hit each hill, the vehicles launched as high as eight feet into the air. The announcer’s commentary was sometimes drowned out by the roar of the engines.

The smell of burning rubber filled the park when racers' tires began to smoke, sometimes having to pull off to the pit for maintenance. At one point, a driver bumped the rails and spun out—only their expert control prevented a collision.

A white flag indicates the final lap of each race, and the checkered flag drops when the first vehicle crosses the finish. The pace truck returns to lead a victory lap, and, as the drivers come around, the winning three vehicles drive off the track and right up to the podium. After each race, bulldozers and tractors clean and smooth the track, then the water truck sprays it down in preparation for the next race.

Following media interviews, the drivers were met on the podium by their trophies and three Rockstar Girls from Rockstar Energy, who posed with them during the ceremony. The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series included trucks, buggies, lites, and karts.

The new track promises to be a mainstay in the Reno/Sparks region. "We have a five-year agreement to host Pro Series Races and are working on setting up a Regional Off Road Series for sportsman-level racing on a regular basis," says Micah Anderson, Motorsports Marketing Associate for Lucas Oil Products. "We had massive crowds thanks to the support of local businesses and the community's [strong interest in] off-road motorsports and recreation."

More information can be found here, and highlights of the races can be found on Lucas Oil Off Road Racing’s YouTube channel. Click here for standings and race results. Rounds 11 & 12 will be broadcast on CBS Sports September 30 and October 7, 14, and 21 at 8 p.m. EST. For the complete broadcast schedule, click here.

Look for the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series ad on the back cover of the September/October 2012 edition of Nevada Magazine, now on newsstands.

Pro Buggy Main race winner Doug Fortin (middle) poses with runner-up Steven Greinke (left), third-place finisher Cameron Steele, and the Rockstar Girls on Saturday, August 25 at Wild West Motorsports Park.

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