By Mike Henle
LAS VEGAS -- Team Ford Lincoln President Steve Olliges and lifelong friend Chris Curtis have been teammates in the rough and rugged sport of off-road racing since they were in high school more than 30 years ago.
However the two along with many Southern Nevadans have now teamed up to help defeat ALS, which Curtis is now facing head-on during his own battle with the disease that surfaced about three years ago.
A native Las Vegan who is now a prominent local attorney, Curtis noticed symptoms in May of 2012. “I had noticed some cramping in my left hand,” he said. “I’m a hiker and a climber and I was climbing White Pinnacle in Red Rock Canyon when my left hand lost grip on a rope. I fell and tore the labrum in my left shoulder.”
It was at that moment that Curtis knew something was wrong. He had climbed there many times before without any issues, but this time his left hand was not working properly and he believes it was the disease process that caused the tumble down the mountain.
KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Gubler family of Southern Nevada has been around off-road racing for nearly 40 years, and the youngest member of the group is celebrating his latest victory in the 46th annual NAPA Auto Parts SNORE 250 here Oct. 24.
A former motorcycle racer, energetic 20 year-old Colton Gubler wrapped up the Class 12 championship during the event’s first-ever visit to this city about 100 miles south of Las Vegas.
A native of Las Vegas and now a resident of Caliente, Nev., Gubler took his victory with an overall time of 4 hours, 17.26 minutes to score about an eight-minute victory over Rick Madison of Parker, Ariz. He also won his class in the Race Fuel 250 in Caliente, in May.
“It was a little bit of a different race because of where it was held,” Gubler said adding that Kingman has been without off-road racing for some time.
“It was very silty, too, and there was a combination of everything on a short course.”
Gubler said he would run at the McKenzie’s Rage at the River in December in Laughlin.
“We’re going to run Class 12 for the next couple of years,” he said. “No matter where we run, we’re going to race Class 12. We’re trying to get our feet wet and we will eventually step up into a Class 1 car or a truck.”
With an expected field of about 100 entries, the 46th annual NAPA Auto Parts SNORE 250 off road racing event Oct. 23-24 in Kingman Ariz., is expected to bring a big following.
Since the first SNORE 250 presented on the grounds of what is now a very posh Spanish Trail Country Club in the southwest portion of the Las Vegas Valley in 1969, the prestigious event has become one that is on the calendars of many as soon as the schedule is announced each year.
Arizona is certainly no stranger to the sport of off-road racing considering that it has hosted similar events over the years. SNORE’s first visit to the city has been met with great enthusiasm.
“The city has welcomed us with open arms,” said SNORE President Kenny Freeman of Henderson, Nev. “They have closed down their downtown area to allow us to have tech inspection and registration.
“The land owner in the area of the Route 66 Motor Sports Complex has been very accommodating. The locals in the area are coming out for what will be the largest off-road racing event ever presented in Kingman.”
By: Mike Henle
CALIENTE – The return of the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts to this area about 180 miles north of Las Vegas lived up to its billing as an action-packed economic shot in the arm.
The SNORE Race Fuel 250 May 29-30 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, 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. The triumph was his first overall victory in a car owned by Southern California businessman Vic Ziegler.
By Mike Henle
CALIENTE -- The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts (SNORE) auto racing sanctioning body returns to Lincoln County after a brief absence and you can bet that the Race Fuel 250 will be met with open arms to this community situated about 180 miles north of Las Vegas.
With a field of about 85 entries along with a contingent of followers ranging from pit crews to your basic off-road racing fan, the invasion of SNORE will bring with it a huge boost to the town May 29-30.
Festivities kick off with a meet and greet at Caliente Elementary Friday from 8:30-10:30 a.m. in what has proven a wildly-popular start to the weekend as SNORE presents its third race of the six-race Terrible Herbst Motor Sports Championship Series.
Tech inspection and registration begins at 3 p.m. at the Knotty Pine Restaurant and Lounge.
On Saturday, race action begins at 8 a.m. at the local motocross track.
What started as a friendly gathering at a bar called the Sawdust Saloon in Las Vegas 45 years ago evolved into an impressive awards ceremony Dec. 10 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Rich history combined with more than $35,000 in prize money was tastefully intermingled with endless trophies and a series of multi-media presentations as SNORE honored its top drivers at what might be called “The House That Mike Gaughan Built.”
The 2014 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Garage Championship Series covered a six-race schedule featuring strong fields. A season-opening extravaganza kicking off the year with the Battle at Primm south of Las Vegas had a down-to-the-wire finish at the Rage at the River in Laughlin in December to make the latest season one that nobody will ever forget.
Presented in the Sonoma Room of the South Point on the southern end of the famed Las Vegas Strip, auto racing awards shows don’t come any better than SNORE’s latest presentation.
Legendary former Mint 400 Race Director KJ Howe was among the throng of attendees, and he was quick to point out the history of SNORE.
Howe said he first met the members of SNORE in early 1970s at the Sheriffs Jeep Posse headquarters.
The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts wrapped up the $17,000 2014 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Garage Championship Series Dec. 12-14 and Class 10 driver Bud Ward will take home the winner’s share of a big purse when SNORE wraps up the year with its awards banquet Jan. 10 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Ward, of Hemet, Calif., amassed 4,058 points for the year to lead the contingent of drivers of more than 200 entries that flocked to Laughlin for the McKenzie’s Rage at the River by capturing the Class 1600 class that touted a jam-packed field of 33 entries.
Ward, a 29 year-old contractor, actually rolled the car on Friday during qualifying and had to settle in the back of the field.
“We just had a great car and put a lot of time and development into it,” said Ward, who will earn about $4,000 for capturing the overall championship.
“There was no dust and that really helped out, too. We didn’t have a single problem during the race.”
There is certainly no doubt that Ward and his crew will invade the South Point for the SNORE awards. In fact, Ward is going to be a very busy man considering that he also tied in the Lucas Oil points for the Limited Buggy category. In years past, he has won the 1600 category of Mojave Off Road Racing Enthusiasts (MORE and several class 9 championships with MORE.
“We had a very good year with minimal problems,” Ward said, “Our worst finish all year long was a fifth place in both Lucas Oil and SNORE events.”
Ward said the team is putting together plans for 2015 and will compete in several of SNORE’s events. He won the last two events to wrap up the overall SNORE title that ended with the largest-ever turnout in recent history for a Laughlin race.
“I just wanted podium finishes during the season, but we had to turn on the gas at the end because it was so close at the end.”
Ironically, Class 7 driver Jon Lee of Riverside came to Laughlin with a 27 point lead but fell out when the chassis on his vehicle rubbed a hole in the power steering line. Ironically, Ward’s crew assisted Lee’s crew to get the Class 7 vehicle back during Sunday’s race.
“We want to race as hard as we can and see how the points fall,” said Ward, a native of Hemet. “We found the problem on Jon’s car and with help from McKenzie’s were able to put the power steering line back together.”
Ward has a long list of sponsors that helped throughout the year including Brister Ward Motorsports (company owner Mark Brister owns Ward’s car), Major Performance Racing Engines, BF Goodrich Tires, Ramona Tire Service Centers, Dave Folts Transmissions, Amber Racing Services, and the entire Ward family and crew.
“My crew chief Brian Weatherly and his father, Bill, were awesome all year long,” Ward said. “We had 30 races during the season and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Lee came into the season finale with a 3,460-3,433 leads over Ward. He finished with 3,910 points while Class 10 competitor Geoffrey Cooley ended up third with 3,872, Class 16 competitor Fernie Padilla was fourth with 3,826 and Class 9 charger Corey Torres rounded out the top five with 3,818.
Class champions in the event included Justin Smith in Unlimited Truck and overall; Kevin Thompson in Class 1 Unlimited; Richard Glaszczak in Class 10; Matt Ferrato in Class 12; Tori Poole in Class 13; Vincent Munoz in Class 1450; Travis Howard in Class 15; Ward in Class 16; Colton Gubler in Class 18; Justin Anderson in Class 2000; Braden Abatti in Class 3000;John Willard in Class 5 Unlimited; Michael King in Class 5/1600; Scott Davis in Class 6100; Matt Lovell in Class 7; Clint Braun in Class 9; Corey Vandermark in Stock Bug; Lori English in Stock Full; and Blayze Webster in UTV-Pro.
SNORE will kick off the 2015 season with the King Shocks Battle at Primm Feb. 20-22. The SNORE/MORE Motion Tire 300 is set for April 10-11 in Ridgecrest, Calif., while the Race Fuel Energy Drink 250 marks a return to Caliente, Nev. May 29-30.
The KC HiLites Midnight Special, another combined effort of both SNORE and MORE, will be Sept. 11-12 in Lucerne Valley, Calif. and the 46th annual SNORE 250 will debut in Kingman, Ariz. Oct. 23-24 before the Rage at the River returns to Laughlin, Nev. Dec. 11-13.
Bud Ward runs off with the 2014 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Garage Championship Series championship after winning the jam-packed 1600 class during the McKenzie’s Rage at the River Dec. 12-14.
Photo compliments of Phil Kaos Photography
Bud Ward of Hemet, Calif. celebrates winning the 1600 title of the annual McKenzie’s Rage at the River in Laughlin Dec. 12-14. He is shown with co-driver Sherilyn Schouten.
Photo compliments of Phil Kaos Photography
LAUGHLIN, Nev. – In what has become a very popular traveling off-road racing show, SNORE has been presenting its popular programs for 45 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. 12-14. With a field of more than 200 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 2014 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Garage Championship Series.
Heading into the event, 30-year competitor Jon Lee (Class 7) has 3,460 points; Bud Ward (1600) has 3,433; defending champion Corey Torres (Class 9) has 3,419 and 18-year-old Southern California charger Geoffrey Cooley (Class 10) has 3,415 in what has movie-like drama as drivers go petal-to-the-metal for first-place money of about $4,000 with a total purse of $17,000.
Lee, 55, of Riverside, Calif., said his team has had the perfect season. He is supported by Bilstein Shock Absorbers, Mark Johnson Race Prep, General Tire, Method Wheels and Brenthel Industries.
“It boils down that for us to win the points, we have to have the perfect race and the other guys need to have the less-than-perfect race,” Lee said. “We have gone so far every race without one mechanical failure and I attribute that to Mark Johnson and his race prep. We’re ready to go. We’re going to do what we have done with every race.”
SNORE is returning to Laughlin with a huge field of racers, support crews and fans, according to club president Kenny Freeman.
“To us, Laughlin is the perfect venue,” said Freeman, a lifelong Las Vegan whose family was among those early members who founded SNORE nearly five decades ago. “The setting is awesome, the hotels are close by and the track offers immense action.”
SNORE started the season in Primm south of Las Vegas before journeying to Ridgecrest, Calif. not far from Edwards Air Force Base and Cedar City in Southern Utah.
The most recent stop was the Gold Strike 250 Midnight Special in Jean and while every race has produced a fun journey, there’s simply something about the mystique of Laughlin
“We love it,” said Freeman. “Laughlin has everything needed to present a popular off-road racing event and the nearby hotels create the perfect combination. This year’s points standings are again coming down to the final event and the field of entries is very strong.”
MJ Smith, the executive director of the Laughlin Tourism Commission, said SNORE’s race programs events have been good for the city.
“The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts have ended their season in Laughlin since 2009,” Smith said. “Historically, the weekend was the second slowest of the year in respect to gaming and occupancy, but with the addition of SNORE’s largest event, we have pushed occupancy more than 10 percent across the destination. The estimated economic impact, based on LVCVA intercept study figures is 2.75 million on average.
“SNORE is a great organization to work with. They are diligent in regards to safety for their teams and spectators and always return our desert to pre-race conditions. We’re thrilled to be home to Rage at the River and encourage race fans to attended and cheer on their favorite team.”