It’s The Open Road Challenge For ALMS Cars
With the American Le Mans Series running in Utah this weekend, one wonders ... why doesn't the management of the American Le Mans Series plan to take in the Nevada Open Road Challenge along the way as a “Qualification” round?
If there ever was an event designed to take into account the uniqueness of the full-bodied racing automobiles of the American Le Mans Series classification of cars, it is this open road challenge timed racing event that is held two times a year through Central-East Nevada.
Drivers patiently wait in line for the tech inspection at Broadbent Park in Ely, Nevada for last September's 20th anniversary of the Silver State Classic Challenge open road speed rally. Image Credit: The Ely Times (2007)
Technically, the Nevada Open Road Challenge (May 15-18, 2008)/Silver State Classic Challenge (September 18-21, 2008) event is a rally format that includes a navigator along with the driver held on a 90 mile open stretch of Nevada Highway 318 between the towns of Lund and Hiko. The cars are run in classes at five mile per hour increments, from 95 mph to 180 mph, with the class determined by the vehicle's safety equipment, the driver's experience level and the driver/navigator comfort level.
There is also an Unlimited Division for very experienced drivers with full race-equipped cars. Vehicles are started at one minute intervals and 30 second intervals, beginning with the 150 mph class and working back to the 95 mph class. Once the last 95 mph class vehicle clears the course, the Unlimited Division and the higher speed brackets over 150 are run as the final group.
Image Credit: SSCC
This is where the ALMS could make an impact in the annuals of American racing (assuming that the organizers accomidate the ALMS with a basic rules change - driver only) ... have the ALMS cars line up and qualify for the upcoming race in Salt Lake City at the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix by driving the 90 miles from Lund, Nevada to Hiko, Nevada, and may the best time win its bracket. With a little planning, this idea would create some history and possibly capture a Guinness Book world record along the way.
Image Credit: SSCC
This excerpted from the Silver State Classic Challenge website –
Silver State Classic Challenge
A Brief History
The State of Nevada closes down 90 miles of Route 318 and more than 200 drivers from around the world converge on the little town of Ely in the central high desert of Nevada. Why do they come? To experience first-hand the adrenaline rush of driving flat-out on a public highway. Not just professional racers, but men and women from all walks of life, pursuing the Walter Mitty dream of speed, horsepower, and high performance. Yes, there’s a place for everyone in the Silver State Classic Challenge events.
Video From 2008 Nevada Open Road Challenge
Car #339 1988 - Porsche 928 S4
As the Silver State Classic Challenge Series of Open Road Rally Events continues into the new millennium, we thought it might be interesting to trace the history of this unique American auto rally event. It began simply enough in 1988, as a showcase for vintage racing cars. Along with Ferrel Hansen, then President of the White Pine County Chamber of Commerce, the organizers received approval from the State of Nevada to close the highway based on the event’s potential for pumping money into the local economy. That left less than two months to organize the event, which meant getting the go-ahead from all three counties, formulating a traffic control plan, lining up the Nevada Highway Patrol to secure the highway, and arranging liability insurance of one million dollars. After Steve Waldman, one of the original organizers and then Marketing Director of the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, agreed to make the Showboat the official host property, everything was in place.
When the Silver State Classic Challenge debuted on Sunday, September 25, 1988, it was the first legal open-road rally of its kind in the U.S. in a half-century. In addition to vintage autos, it pulled in a mixed bag of late model, high performance vehicles and muscle cars. Among the 50 odd entries were six Ferraris, thirteen Porsches and four Corvettes. The oldest American car was a ’56 Dodge D500, which blew its engine after just twenty minutes into the event. Overall, three cars failed to finish, but fortunately nobody was injured. For the record, a red 1988 Ferrari Testarossa, driven by Jim Liautad, Jr. of Elgin, Illinois, which averaged 162.58 mph, clocked the fastest time.
Thanks to favorable press in nationally known publications like “Motor Trend” and “Autoweek”, the next event drew over one hundred competitors, including a 19-year old phenomenon name R.J. Gottlieb blasted through the course at 197.99 mph, hitting speed in excess of 220mph, a record that has only recently been broken.
However, it was later determined that the course was 2 miles shorter than originally thought. Therefore, the old record was retired and a new mark of 186.73mph was set in the May, 1996 event by veteran open road participant, Kelly Seivers. Again in 1999 the course was remeasured by an independent civil engineering firm and found to still be about 2,000 feet short, and so that record was retired and the new Public Highway Land Speed Record was established after moving the Start Line to bring the course to exactly 90 miles in length.
The current record now stands at 207.7801 mph (334.3896 km/h) set by Chuck Shafer and his navigator Gary Bockman at the May 2000 event. Image Credit: SSCC
The year 2001 was a year of big developments in the SSCC history. We were accepted into the Guinness World Book of Records for two records, Highest Speed On A Public Highway and the Fastest Road Rally.
The organization’s many dedicated volunteers work hand-in-hand with the State of Nevada to boost travel and tourism in the region. Upcoming events will host the world’s top open-road drivers, names like Chuck Shafer, Rick Doria, Kim Baker, Todd Carpenter, Dave Golder and Tarik Ben Jabar, as they go for broke in their attempt to set new Public Highway Land Speed Records.
One thing’s for sure, in the words of Phil Henry; “We can count on these guys to come out with the fastest machines to ever set rubber on a public highway”.
... notes from The EDJE