By Mike Henle
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Jan. 7, 2017) – About 50 years ago, Las Vegas was a different world. Water wasn’t a concern, developers were just starting to notice that the desert could create wealth and the corporate world had not discovered the city.
In 1969, as Elvis Pressley was filling the showroom at the old International Hotel on Paradise Road, the population was about 125,000 and an off-road racing group was being formed by a group of hearty souls in the back of the Sawdust Saloon on Highland Avenue south of Sahara Avenue.
Legendary singer BB King was headlining Caesars Palace; and so was the legendary Frank Sinatra.
During the same period, SNORE was hosting its year-end banquets at the tiny Sheriff’s Jeep Posse near Washington Avenue and Bruce Street while attracting big shots such as Nevada Sen. Richard Bryan, Clark County Commissioner Manny Cortez and a growing list of sponsors that wanted to become part of one of America’s newest motorsports sanctioning bodies.
The early days of SNORE was a stark contrast to the current group which on Jan. 7 presented a magnificent post-season awards ceremony at Sam’s Town Live concert hall, the same venue that has played host to a long list of entertainers including Joe Nichols, Leon Russell, Gladys Knight, Little Big Town, Boys II Men, Uncle Kracker, Kenny Wayne Sheperd, LeeAnn Womak, Kenny Loggins, Lynyrd Skynrd, George Jones and the O’Jays, to name a few.
Undoubtedly, SNORE has risen to the big-time in every possible way ranging from its six-race schedule to Sam’s Town Live, which drew a capacity crowd that enjoyed a colorful setting while also dealing out a downright incredible amount of prize money exceeding $31,000 to make the club one of the most respected auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country.
From one end of Sam’s Town Live to the other, attendees raved about family-oriented SNORE and its dedicated group of folks who certainly know a thing or two about everything from promoting off-road racing to attracting sponsors and capping a season with a blockbuster awards ceremony.
During a schedule that included everything from downpours at Caliente, Nev. to the wind and dust of Lucerne Valley, Calif., the travel was challenging and so were the elements at each of the six races. Just competing required a commitment, while winning one of the classes also required a little help from the Man Above not to mention pit crews that worked seamlessly together.
Northern California iron worker Curt Geer won the overall and Class 1600 points standings during the 2016 Patrick’s Signs Championship Series. He took home a cool payday of nearly $13,000 while also receiving fee entry fees for each of SNORE’s races in 2017.
Geer and his crew travel to each SNORE event while also balancing very busy work schedules and traveling hundreds of miles. The challenge is not easy, but the gold at the end of the rainbow certainly worked well for the team in 2016.
The 33-year-old Geer won four of the six races. He will open SNORE’s series with the stop at the Battle of Primm in February and will also run the Mint 400 in March.
“We’re planning to run all of SNORE’s races in 2017,” said Geer, a native of San Dimas, Calif. “SNORE knocked it out of the with awards banquet. The food was good and the organization of it all was phenomenal.”
The only setback for Geer came during the KC HiLites 250 in Jean when the alternator failed midway through the first lap. Meanwhile, he gained a narrow victory over Driver of the Year Tyler Peterson in Class 9; and two-time SNORE points champion and Class 1-2 1600 driver Bud Ward.
Meanwhile, the hectic schedule that led to his winning the title was handled by his wife, Jessica, who handles plane tickets, registration and the rest for a 30-member pit crew.
“I don’t know how Jessica does it all,” Geer said his wife of two years adding that she is a true miracle worker.
The list of sponsors that played key roles in the Geer title chase included Bowden Development custom home builders of Arcadia, Calif.; King Shocks, Daniel Foltz Prep; and the Curt Geer Racing Team.
Tyler Peterson’s runner-up finish netted him $4,758 and was especially intriguing considering that Class 9 requires expertise to keep the cars running smoothly. Taking second place in the overall SNORE points standings was a huge accomplishment.
“The Class 9 cars are fragile because we run original VW components,” explained the 31-year-old Peterson, a solar specialist with Sun Run Inc. in Irvine, Calif. “There are no upgrades and the cars have all joint front ends.”
The highlight of Peterson’s season may have been when he rolled in Caliente and still ended up winning his class. In all, he won four of SNORE’s six races.
Peterson, whose dad, Dennis, ran Class 9 since the 1980s, has a degree in psychology from Cal State San Bernardino. He said his schedule for 2017 would get especially busy with a dozen races rather than the nine he ran in 2016. He is considering Class 10 or Class 1600 as possibilities in the future.
“I would love to drive for someone else,” he said. “I can’t afford to drive my own car, but there’s talk of moving up for the 2018 season.”
Ward was third in the overall points stadings.
SNORE continued to draw drivers from several states in 2016 in a sport that includes its share of challenges ranging from environmental issues to attracting volunteers who not only work for free, but also donate endless hours to keep the machine running full-speed ahead throughout the year.
Incoming SNORE president John Pellissier said he was looking forward to being president of SNORE during the 2017 season.
“We have a very good team heading into the 2017 season,” he said. “Everyone works together very well and I really think the banquet was proof of that considering what a huge success it was.”
SNORE also showed a high level of class when Pellissier opened the ceremony with a prayer for Best in the Desert promoter Casey Folks, who suffered a medical condition at an off-road race in Parker, Ariz., Saturday that caused him to have to be airlifted back to Las Vegas for care.
A list of special awards presented included the Denny Selleck and Don Dayton Award, Miranda Bruner; Driver of the Year, Tyler Peterson; Engine Builder of the Year, Wiks; Hotel of the Year, Buffalo Bills; Mechanic of the Year, Justin Bean Smith; Pit Crew of the Year, Free-Baggin; Race Sponsor of the Year, PCI Race Radios; Transmission Builder of the Year, Dave Folts; Volunteer of the Year, Rick Krueger; Sportsman of the Year, Kevin Thompson/Jeff Quinn; Jimmy Schaefer/Al Perino Award, CJ Hutchins; Lifetime Achievement Award, Ken Freeman; President’s Award, Lynn Dickton, Randi Johnson, Kylie Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Miranda Bruner, Christine Thacker, Shelley McGinn, Dale Looney, Sarah Koeth, Bill Shapley, Don Barbeau, Mike Colosimo, David Jackson and Chip Bruner; SNORE True Grit, Doug Christensen, Class 12; Rookie of the Year, Julie Pierce, Class 9; Russell Job Award, Eric Hardin, Unlimited Truck; Jean Calvin Award, Julie Pierce, Class 9.
SNORE’s 2017 Patrick’s Signs & McKenzie’s Championship Series six-race schedule kicks off its 48th year Feb. 10-12 with the King Shocks Battle at Primm south of Las Vegas.
|California Iron worker Curt Geer took home nearly $13,000 for capturing the 1600 and overall 2016 Patrick’s Signs Championship Series during ceremonies presented Jan. 7 at Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas. (Instant Images photography).|
By Mike Henle
LAUGHLIN, Nev. --The Southern Nevada Off Road enthusiasts wrapped up its 47th season here Dec. 8-11 and in the same breath, Class 1 Unlimited kingpin Harley Letner pocketed a very impressive payday of $7,512 for capturing overall and class victories.
Indeed, Laughlin and SNORE go together like wine and cheese to end the year with the annual McKenzie’s Rage at the River, a wildly-successful and popular off-road racing event that drew more than 300 entries this year for participation over a tight 12-mile course just north of the city.
In a region with a spectacular backdrop of hotels and the Colorado River, the annual McKenzie’s Rage at the River lived up to the hype while Letner also lived up to his billing as a hard-driving veteran of a sport that is generally eager to bend metal, brake parts and wipe out half of the field long on any given day.
Letner, a driver for Youtheory Racing, wisely mixed the speed of his Class 1 Unlimited buggy powered by builder Jeff Ginter Racing Engines with the excellence of its suspension highlighted by King Shocks to gain the payday which was combined in a perfect mathematical formula that included $2,500 from MGI, $2,000 in SNORE bonus money and $3,012 for the class victory.
You could definitely say that a Letner winning the McKenzie’s Rage at the River was fitting especially considering the history of the Letner family.
With roots stretching back to the 1940s when Bert Letner developed the Elco Twin head and set multiple land speed records all the way through the NASCAR and off-road career of Danny Letner from the 1950s to the 1980s to the latest generation of Harley Letner and Kory Halopoff, this particular race and the venue had history written all over it.
Members of Dirt Sports Magazine, the third-generation Letner drivers obviously leave an imprint when they compete, as evidenced by the payday and the final results of the McKenzie’s Rage at the River.
With fearless and aggressive driving skills perfect for any off-road course, the city of Laughlin resulted in an off-road version of a very profitable five-of-kind for the very fast Harley Letner
With a stellar record that includes the overall victory in the 2009 Baja 500, Letner was full-metal throttle and tickled to death about the final results at Laughlin.
“Everything was fine,” Letner, who started last in Class 1 Unlimited and Trophy Trucks because of timing issues. “We started how we drew and I didn’t sign up until the last minute, so I was in the very back. I just drove my butt off.
“We were second overall after the first day. The second day was good. We started on the second row and I got the lead in the second lap. I ended up beating everyone by five or six minutes.”
A 33-year-old native of Irvine, Calif., Letner works on race cars for a living.
“I prep my own car,” he said. “I love the sport of off-road racing. I guess you can say I was born into it.”
Letner said he loved the course and toured the layout behind a 454-cubic inch Chevrolet, which is a popular engine in off-road racing nowadays.”
“The biggest challenge was getting around all of the cars,” he said. “I just ran up on the other drivers quickly and got around them.”
Letner said he will remain busy throughout the 2017 season.
SNORE’s 2017 Patrick’s Signs & McKenzie’s Championship Series six-race schedule kicks off Feb. 10-12 with the King Shocks Battle at Primm.
By Mike Henle
LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- At the age of 31, Laughlin, Nev. native Matt Laughlin is having the time of his life. Now assistant general manager of the Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino along the Colorado River about 100 miles south of Las Vegas, he’s preparing to run a new 6100 truck in the annual McKenzie’s Rage at the River scheduled Thursday through Sunday.
Presented by the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts (SNORE), the event will be run over a course that covers approximately 12 miles long in the Laughlin Events Center. With a tight layout surrounded by the mountains and the backdrop of the hotel-casinos at water’s edge, the atmosphere that includes red-hot machinery and the Colorado River is breath-taking.
Laughlin, whose 85-year-old grandfather, Don, has become renowned for spotting the city from an airplane in 1964 before taking it to what it is today, is ready to go in a very impressive-looking truck.
“We originally had a Class 12 car that we converted to a 10 car,” said Matt, who earned a degree in finance from UNLV in 2007. “Then, my parents’ house burned down in May of 2013 and the fire pretty much took everything we had including the race car, our pre-runner, the tools and the rest.
“We didn’t go racing for a while. I had wanted to go back to Class 10. I had been racing for three years, so we took some time off.”
Laughlin is ready now, especially for a race that traditionally draws a huge field of trucks that work fit perfectly in the terrain not far from the Riverside. The Class 61 truck is sleek-looking and besides, it’ll run about 100 miles an hour in the open desert.
LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts Christmas holiday tour is entering Laughlin this weekend for the annual McKenzie’s Rage at the River Thursday through Sunday.
A strong field of more than 300 entries will tackle a tight 12-mile course at the Laughlin Event Center. With heat races starting Saturday and Sunday scheduled to start at 6:46 a.m., the action promises to be full-speed-ahead during an event that has now been a part of Laughlin since 2009.
Laughlin is the perfect venue for SNORE to wrap up each year and in the same breath, off-road racing is perfect for this city situated about 100 miles south of Las Vegas along the Colorado River. Hotels are packed with racers and pit crews during an off-road extravaganza that highlights the six-race 2016 Patrick’s Signs & Butch’s Speed Shop Championship Series.
Heading into Laughlin, class points leaders include Ron Whitton (Unlimited Truck), Ross Mattox (1), Justin Davis (10), Colton Gubler (12), Sarah Koeth (13), Kevin Thompson (1450), John Morgan (15), Curt Geer (1600), Austen Sieracki (2000), James Ford (3000), Blade Hildebrand (5), Travis Baldwin (5/1600), Michael Frye (7), Jordon Poole (6100), Jasen Harmon (8), Tyler Peterson (9) and Tommy Bradley (Heavy Metal).
By Mike Henle
LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. – Each year, a strong field of off-road racers travel to this isolated area east of Victor Valley in western San Bernardino County to compete in an event known for tough terrain and competitive fields of drivers.
Now in its 47th season, the SNORE 250 – this year with strong support from sponsor PCI Race Radios and assistance from MORE – the field of about 150 entries didn’t let anyone down in the creation and running of the fifth race of the year Sept. 23-24 in the highly-respected 2016 Patrick’s Signs and Butch’s Speed Shop Championship Series.
No SNORE race is easy, starting with the King Shocks Battle at Primm in February and culminating with the McKenzie’s Rage at the River in December in Laughlin, Nev. along the Colorado River. Through bad economies off the track and bumps in the road on the track, races like the most recent PCI Race Radios SNORE 250 turns the desert into a weekend gathering that tests the talents of some of off-road racing’s finest competitors.
LAUGHLIN – In what has become a very popular traveling off-road racing show, SNORE has been presenting its popular programs for 47 years; and as development curtailed usage of land in the Las Vegas area, the hearty group of off-road enthusiasts has found itself journeying further away from its home base of Las Vegas.
In this small city along the Colorado River about 100 miles south of Las Vegas, SNORE will again present the McKenzie’s Rage at the River Dec. 9-12. With a field of more than 350 entries in several classes, the red carpet is rolled out to end the off-road schedule each year.
Highly-respected business people in small communities love seeing the invasion of vehicles that each SNORE race brings – and it’s no different in this community, once a bankrupt fishing village that legendary hotel executive Don Laughlin spotted from an airplane before deciding to resurrect the area back in the 1960s.
Off-road racing has been good to Laughlin and the city has the ideal venue called Laughlin Event Center where a 12 mile course has endless action especially for those sitting atop the surrounding hills.
The setting for a season-ending race couldn’t be any better and neither could the 2016 Patrick Signs Championship Series.
SNORE is returning for the seventh year, according to club president Kenny Freeman.
By Mike Henle
LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif., -- The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts will present the annual PCI Race Radios SNORE 250 here Sept. 23-24. For the past 46 years, the SNORE 250 has been a historic off-road race and the 47th event is expected to carry on the tradition.
The PCI Race Radios SNORE 250 marks the return of the event east of Victor Valley in western San Bernardino County. A field of about 150 entries is expected to compete.
Since the inaugural SNORE 250 presented on the grounds of what is now the Spanish Trail Country Club in southwest Las Vegas, the event has become a staple in the world of off-road racing. Since the first event won by the legendary Fritz Kroyer, the event has been presented at various other venues.
However, while the scenery has changed depending on the location of the start-finish line, competitors like PCI Race Radios President, Scott Steinberger remains dedicated to SNORE and its consistent off-road racing events now stretching back almost five decades.
In a sport where communications are so vital, PCI Race Radios has become not only a member of SNORE’s overall race team, but also a highly-recognized invaluable source. Since 1972, PCI Race Radios has provided radio communications for some of the best in the sport including Bill Stroppe, Joe MacPherson and Walker Evans.
By Mike Henle
Back in the late 1960s, the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts — otherwise known as SNORE — was born at the Sawdust Saloon on Highland Drive south of Sahara Avenue.
Owned by prominent businessman John Herda, the Sawdust was the perfect venue to launch SNORE, an off-road race group that is still going strong in its 47th year.
Ever since SNORE threw its first green flag, it has hosted some of the sport’s best-known names such as Fritz Kroyer, who won the SNORE 250 before also capturing the legendary Mint 400, and Rob MacCachren, who has won more than 200 championships during his racing career.
MacCachren won the 2009 SNORE points title and earned the top spot in theBaja 1000, the CORR Pro-2, the SCORE International, SODA Off Road Racing, Best in the Desert and three BorgWarner World Championships.
He currently drives the Rockstar Energy Drink Ford Trophy Truck in SCORE events and the Rockstar Energy Drink Pro 2 Unlimited in the Lucas Off Road Racing Series.
A native Las Vegan, MacCachren won the 1600 class of the 2009 Mint 400 and finished seventh overall.
“During that period of his career, Rob was honing his skills in the SNORE series,” SNORE President Kenny Freeman said. “Driving the 1600 car increased his level of intensity and helped him with the rest of his career.”
By Mike Henle
SNORE’s history of KC HiLites off-road racing events stretches back to the mid-1970s. With a big gap in the schedule because of the heat, SNORE representatives determined it was time to present a night race during the summer months in Southern Nevada.
Thus, the return of the annual KC HiLites Midnight Special July 30 south of Las Vegas in Jean, Nev. With about 100 entries, the event drew a good field that has consistently carried on for the past four decades.
Founded in 1969, SNORE undoubtedly took what might have sounded like a strange idea and turned it into a brilliant off-road racing endeavor especially considering that the Midnight Special is presented smack-dab during the hottest summer month in Southern Nevada.
“SNORE added the night race because there was a big hole in the schedule from the spring until the fall,” explained long-time member and president Kenny Freeman, Jr. “The only way to fill the void was to run at night, so the Midnight Special was born.”
By Mike Henle
CALIENTE -- 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.