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).|