Friday, January 30 - Sunday, February 1, SCORE International and the Laughlin, NV Chamber of Commerce hosted the first race of the 1998 SCORE desert racing season, the Laughlin Desert Challenge.
It was a GREAT race! Loads of fun, lots of excitement, and the cars were just wonders to behold.
And the winners - published as Victor Orellana, but on day 2 Juan was driving (presumably Juan Orellana, his brother? I don't know for sure, but I was talking to a couple of young guys at trackside who are members of the family). Their day 2 time was actually slower than the 2nd place car, but total time was 45 seconds better than 2nd place. Made the winner's circle a real adventure, trying to compute summarized times & who the winner was.
Quite the pushbar & running lights setup, don't you think? It was rather dark at starting time, and on truly long races, like the Baja 1000, those lights are well used.
And the 2nd place finisher was car #551, with driver of record Carlos Iribe. He finished 1 minute 44 seconds in front of 3rd place, but was actually 3rd in on the 2nd day. As stated earlier, winner's circle was an adventure. The famed Laughlin Leap is pictured here! And, if you look into the distance, you can see a bunch of vehicles parked on top of the hill on the other side of the race course. This was referred to over the PA as "all you freeloaders on the hill," and the Laughlin HillClimbing contest when someone tried to get up there and didn't quite make it.
An action shot taken from the other side of the race course, near the base of freeloader's hill (for lack of a better term). Here the cars would dive into a gulley and hit a hard left turn that took them up the course towards the wash.
And the 3rd place finisher, David Gasper in car #577. This photo is one reason I keep commenting on the total times vs. 2nd day times - this car had the fastest day on day 2, finishing a full 2 minutes before the winner, but on day 1 he was 4 1/2 minutes behind the winner. Gasper and Orellana were on the winner's circle.
Another good shot of the Laughlin Leap. It's a cheap gimmick, but SO much fun to watch the cars fly over this jump! It goes without saying, the class 3 and class 11 cars didn't fly, but on the other hand, rumor has it the trophy trucks were hitting over 110 feet from this jump.
Front suspension is completely stock. Stock kingpin front end, stock adjusters, stock extended trailing arms, stock long-travel single shocks in front (per class rules, only single shocks in front, dual in rear), stock rack & pinion unit. I'm guessing it has near 20" ground clearance at rest.
If only they could deploy wings....
This is an incredibly cool rear suspension system, known as cantilever suspension. The rear shocks mount to this lever arm, which is attached to the roll bar. The lever hooks into another set of rams, thus dampening shock even more effectively. The secondary rams pivot upwards with the motion.
David Gasper and son. The message on the car is thanks to those who got him there.
Note the yellow light on the rear - this is so other racers approaching from the rear can identify another race car. Brake lights are mandatory too.
The yellow car on the left is a class 14 entry, the "sportsman" class. It's pretty much a class 11 car, but there's something different about entry fees or something.
James McKay in car #552 is listed by SCORE as 4th place. I'm not clear on this, but indications are that he didn't finish the first day. On the 2nd day he was about 5 minutes behind the first finisher.
And here we have... the Laughlin Rollover Champions! They rolled the car. Twice. And Still finished the day! That red bar is a piece of the roll bar that came loose when the co-driver tried to get out.
It was a sight to see. First, 2nd laps he was all intact. 3rd or 4th lap, he showed roof damage. Next lap, he showed major body damage! When interviewed at the Winner's circle, his comment was, "It's easy. Just use up all your brake fluid, then stick the accelerator pedal to the floor, and the rest comes natural!"
I had to slip in a couple of buggies, just because they're the ultimate air-cooled offroad machines. Not as versatile as bajas, and Stinking expensive compared, but the wheel travel, wheelbase, and overall technology has no equal.
And the Class 5- unlimited bajas. These only vaguely resemble baja bugs as we know them, but are built on a VW pan, with VW beam-type suspension.