09 Aug

KC HiLites combines with SNORE for another Midnight Special in Jean

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.”

 

Created by the old-timers of SNORE including Denny Selleck, Don Dayton, Jon Block, Bob MacCachren and Bert Vaughan, the Midnight Special has been hit since it was started. 

The Midnight Special has been run in several areas over the years including Searchlight, Nellis Dunes, Jean, Eldorado Valley and Ridgecrest, Calif., Primm, Nev. and finally in Jean where it was hosted by the Gold Strike Hotel Casino.

“You actually got tunnel vision,” Freeman said of racing during the evening hours. “I have rolled more than once, that’s for sure.

“One thing I’ll never forget about the Midnight Special was that running at night with the lights, I learned that there were some very weird things crawling around the desert.”

Needless to say, the Midnight Special would not have been possible were it not for KC HiLites, a true “teammate” that enables drivers to see their way through the pitch-black desert during a race that traditionally starts at 8 p.m.

With a field just shy of 100 entries, the Midnight Special also included more than 40 did-not-finishes, thereby illustrating the tough 65-mile course.

Class 1600 winner and 2015 SNORE points champion Michael Bud Ward of Hemet, Calif. collected his first desert win of the year in the Midnight Special.

“I was fortunate enough to drive the last lap,” said Ward, 31, who has been concentrating on the Lucas Oil Off Road Series. “We teamed up with James Dean. I was given a good car and because Dean’s crew and my crew worked together, we had no issues at all although we did have some carburetor issues. 

“James and his team prepped the car and he started the race. Butch Dean built the engine and that says it all. The whole family is great to work with and it was fun being able to team up with everyone affiliated with LVDC and Butch’s Speed Shop.”

Ward’s win was his second straight for the Midnight Special, after winning in Lucerne, Calif. In addition, he finished second in the 2014 event also presented in Lucerne.

“The water killed us at Caliente, but we had a good run in the Midnight Special.”

KC HiLites Director of Motorsports Jason Cobb said the company started specializing in auxiliary lighting in 1970. In an industry where sponsorships may last for only a few years, the agreement between SNORE and KC HiLites is still going strong.

“It was a no-brainer to work with SNORE,” said Cobb, 46. “SNORE was putting on a few events and European lighting from Germany and France was the only competition although they weren’t in the off-road market.”

Cobb said KC HiLites gets excellent feedback from off road racers who use their product.

“We are the only company that offers on-site help,” he said. “If a driver pulls into our pits, we make sure they can finish the race at no cost. In off-road racing, no other lights work as well as KC HiLites.”

According to SNORE president Kenny Freeman, the agreement actually took place thanks to the late SNORE President Denny Selleck, who invited Pete Brown of KC HiLites to the Midnight Special. 

“Denny said that Pete was very impressed with what SNORE was doing and felt that the club would be good for KC HiLites,” Freeman explained. “Since 1976, KC HiLites has been the sponsor of the Midnight Special. In fact, the meeting between Denny and Pete led to one of longest running sponsorships in the sport of off-road racing”

SNORE has reached its 47th year and the Midnight Special has never missed a beat on the club’s schedule.

Class winners in the KC HiLites Midnight Special included Will Staats, Unlimited Truck; Clarence Cleary, Class 1; Justin Davis, Class 10; Colton Gubler, Class 12; Alec Rodriguez, Limited Sportsman; Michael Fox, 1450; John Morgan, Unlimited Sportsman; Bud Ward, 1-2, 1600; Dillon Tomky, 2000; James Ford, 3000; Blade Hildebrand, 5 Unlimited; Travis Baldwin, 5-1600; Jordan Poole, 6100; Michael Frye, 7; Jason Harmon, 8; Joe Forte, 9; Robert Johnson, Stock Bug; and Justin Lombardo, SXS Limited.

The six-race Patrick’s Signs SNORE series resumes with the PCI Race Radios SNORE 250 Sept. 23-24 in Lucerne, Calif. before wrapping up the season with the McKenzie’s Rage at the River Dec. 10 in Laughlin, Nev.

Class 1600 driver Michael Bud Ward, left, and James Dean celebrate their victory following the annual running of the SNORE KC HiLites Midnight Special July 30 in Jean.

 

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