I’m an engineer and an executive, which is normally a recipe for boredom but...every once in a while I get to do something fun. Something like legally driving at extra-legal speeds, hanging out with some cool people and seeing some insane hardware. Something like...the Nevada Open Road Challenge.
I can’t believe that this event isn’t discussed here more, with the obsession that we have with grass-roots racing such as the Lemons and it just doesn’t get any more grass-roots than these events. Held on 90 miles Nevada State Highway 318 every May and September, the race is open to anyone that can pass a qualifying class and has a car that will pass technical inspection. Participants with street cars (such as mine) can run the event rally-style (time/speed/distance) and those with the requisite skill and hardware can run flat-out. I ran this event rally-style with my stock 2014 Viper:
Our car put us somewhere in the middle of the speed pack, as we competed with everything from a Ford Focus to...this:
“This” is a 1250 HP RSI-built Gen-V Viper, full of trick parts and equally trick Discovery Channel Canada cameras as part of the filming of this event for the show MegaSpeed. There were rented sedans, retired NASCAR chassis and over a dozen Corvettes.
The event covers four days, including ‘rookie’ Practice and Qualifying at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, half-mile and mile shoot-outs, social events, a parade through Ely and a cap show judged by prostitutes (because Nevada). A brief description of the entire event can be read here. The Open Road Race itself is held on event Sundays, running most of the rally-timed cars first and then unleashing the fastest rally-timed classed...and the Open Class cars.
I don’t have an excess of respect for many things today, but the Open drives have my unreserved admiration. Have a look at the course notes and map, perhaps fleshing this out with Google Earth and then consider driving this with an average speed of 217 MPH. That’s what the current record holder, Jim Peruto, set in 2012 with a 2004 Dodge Charger NASCAR chassis. On a road with ‘whoops’, dust, legit turns and the occasional stray goat.
In Part Two, I’ll discuss my prep (or lack thereof) and walk through the event from my perspective.