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by Ray Alexander
The Silver State Challenge is a 90-mile road rally held on Highway 318 in Nevada.
There seems to be a universal belief that Silver State competetitors run at top speed. There is an unlimited class, but a lot of dues must be paid before a driver is allowed to run there. All other classes, from 85 through 180 mph, are a rally event, with drivers and navigators trying to get as close to perfect time for their class as possible.
This event is the host for the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest speed on a public highway (an average of 217 mph over the length of the course, with a top speed of 257 mph). The car was a 2006 Dodge Charger from NASCAR that started life as a Blue Deuce driven by Curt Busch.
The event holds the world record for the fastest road race. Many videos are posted on the message board and can be accessed through www.sscc.us. One that I like is a Corvair blowing a rear tire at 186 mph. I feel for Charlie Friend (driver/buider of the Corvair).
There are rules. Be prepared to adhere to all safety equipment rules. The rules for driver etiquette are a tad difficult to enforce over a ninety-mile circuit.
The event begins on the third Wednesday of May and September (Thursday morning at 6 am for rookies) at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It ends Sunday night at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, you decide when.
There is a stable core of people who participate in almost every event. Some are deadly serious and have enough electronics to warrant towing an auxiliary generator. They seem to delight in quantifying their error in feet, because the number in seconds is so small it is difficult to grasp. The other end of the spectrum has a stopwatch, some hand scribbled course notes, and cruise control.
This September had fewer participants than any event I can remember. We need to get this event pumped up again. I know of people that keep saying they want to do it, so here is an example for you. A guy drives a dated Pantera from Connecticut, races it in the 140 mph class, and drives it back home. It probably has more miles on it than any Pantera in existence. Come on!
There are several teams that compete on a friendly basis. The winning team from the previous race will be the first cars in the parade. This is a big advantage in reclaiming or taking a prime parking spot. In a mysterious crash, Old Fart Racing lost an excellent racer and many of the team took some time off to rethink. Needing more members, Old Fart Racing recruited the Hansen clan and friends. Since they were all driving Mopars, it was fitting to recognize them as Mofarts.
Alan Hansen had two cars there, a 2007 SRT8 Charger and a new Hellcat Challenger SRT8. The front lip of the Charger is inscribed Fast Farmer, the Challenger reads Faster Farmer. There is a rumor that he is getting a Hellcat Charger just to complete the lesson in English.
Do not think that farming is easy. Alan’s hands are about the size of a ham with the firmness and texture of a granite boulder. The car has a large graphic of the Chrysler Hellcat that screams, “Mustangs, get outta the way. The shoe is on the other foot now.” (The WWII P51 Mustang was faster than the F6F Hellcat.) All graphics were done by Clay Hansen.
If you haven’t recently been released from prison and don’t have the appearance of an escapee from a mental institution, you can let a grade school student ride in your race car. I got a sweetheart named Brooklyn. When we got on the main street, she said, “Let me feel it.” I ran to about 6,000 rpm in second gear, her eyes opened very wide and she gasped. Then she asked me to do it again three more times.
At the drivers’ meeting preceding the parade, a stern warning was issued to avoid doing a burnout. One little girl cracked the crowd up by asking, ”What is a burnout?” To some, those warnings are akin to throwing gasoline on a fire.
This event ran virtually without incident, and every car that started also finished. A lady from Canada driving a ’60s Mustang finished dragging the right side exhaust, attached only at the header pipe. Photos show it was already dragging in the narrows.
SA2005 helmets will not be allowed in 2016 and beyond events. Bell SA2015 helmets are shipping as of October 1. Old motorcycle racers were able to get old because of Bell helmets.
A huge thanks to each and every person that assisted with this event. I met the truck delivering porta-potties, I stopped and used one at the starting line. It smelled so good.
Preliminary results can be seem on the web site.
Silver State Challenge, 2008 • 2014 • 2013 • 2012 • 2010 • 2009
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