PCA Zone 8 banquet
At the beginning of the year my girlfriend and I went to the PCA Zone 8 Awards Banquet here in San Diego. It was our first time we had been to this event so we weren't really sure who would be there or what to expect.
The evening turned out to be much more fun than we expected and we met some really interesting people from around the zone. We sat next to a couple called Nina and Matt Cooper from Las Vegas region where she is the Region President. They were terrific fun and full of enthusiasm and told us about an event that they drive twice a year that sounded fascinating. It is called the Silver State Classic Challenge and runs on route 318 in Nevada from a “town” called Lund (population around 14) to Hiko (almost twice as big). You may have seen an article about it in Panorama some time ago. The Nevada Board of Tourism authorize the event and the NHP kindly close 90 miles of Nevada desert road to enable over 200 “car nuts” to blast along this stretch of road at whatever speed they choose! If it sounds too good to be true? check out www.silverstateclassic.com.
Matt and Nina explained more about the silver state classic rules and regulations and invited us to come to the next event and perhaps work timing and scoring - just to check the event out and see if we might be interested in running it next time.
The Zone 8 Awards Banquet was over too quickly, the food was excellent, the awards dazzling, the speeches very amusing with many San Diego Region members visiting the podium to collect trophies.
The call - decision time!
|A month or two later we got a call from Lady Nina from Las Vegas Region asking if we were still interested in timing and scoring the event, we had no hesitation and decided to go for it.
We drove the RSA up to Vegas on the Thursday afternoon and stayed with Matt and Nina and on Friday morning joined the caravan of “racers” from Las Vegas to Ely (5-ish hours north). Along the way, we drove “the track” in the opposite direction to that which the drivers would run when the road was closed that coming Sunday. I remember thinking that the road must have just been resurfaced as it was exceptionally clean and smooth (at legal speeds)!
When we arrived at Ely we were told that because we were course workers, our accommodation was complimentary as “wages” for volunteering to work, we were also told of a complimentary steak dinner for course workers on the Saturday evening, by way of a further thank you. PLUS ..... We got free event staff tee-shirts!!
|A 1981 Yellow 911 SC straight from the paint shop to the 110 mph class.|
The big Parade
At 5PM all the drivers in the event (over 230) “saddled up” and headed to the towns high school to begin the Parade. This is where they close down the main street and everyone in town from newborns to great-grandparents comes out to wave and cheer as all the race cars come rolling past. This was my first view of the full field of cars and I must admit to being surprised at the number and variety of cars entered to run.
|The majority were American modern day muscle with around 80 Corvettes (- the course has very few turns remember), 30 mustangs, 20 Vipers, 15 Camaro's and 12 Panteras. There were several other surprise vehicles including an Aston Martin DB6, a NASCAR, a supercharged Acura NSX, 2 from “F-Troop” in Modena Italy, a Plymouth Neon and a Ford F150 pick-up truck. Then there were of course the 20 magnificent Porsches making up “Team Porsche” under the leadership of Captain Carl Young of Carl's Place (formerly “Porschaus”) in Las Vegas. Each Porsche entrant was given a team Porsche tee-shirt and invited to a reserved parking area for the Tech inspection all day Saturday at the high school football field. This was followed by a buffet supper at the Ely convention Center (event HQ).|
|The Fri evening “Main Street Parade”. From the camera car (an RS America) looking forward you see RSA, RSA, '73 911 Targa, 993 TT, RUF, 911SC, 928 etc.|
Tech Inspection & show time!
Saturday morning each make of car grouped into an informal team and parked together to provide a very impressive impromptu car show. This was an extremely interesting day. All of the cars running were out on display and each was thoroughly scrutinized by the Tech. Inspection team as well as several of the other competitors including ...... shall we say ..... some very “flamboyantly” dressed female spectators.
|“Team Porsche” provided a shady EZ-up and complimentary wine and cheese to all comers of legal age - hence the Porsche Team referring to the Silver State Classic Challenge as “The Worlds fastest Wine and Cheese Tour”.
Saturday afternoon was a meeting for course workers at which we received instruction on our tasks for the following day, plus went through rules and regulations on safety.
After this was the drivers meeting, which we attended to learn as much as we could about how the event is run. Once again, the focus was very much on safety and the event rules were reviewed with a question and answer session following. After that several awards were presented from the “car show” that afternoon. These awards included most unusual vehicle, fastest looking car and best prepared team - which, needless to say, was won by “Team Porsche” (the Corvette guys ran out of beer and peanuts well before lunch).
|Ruf CTR with RSAs guarding his flanks.|
|The following are a few images from the Saturday “car show” and tech inspection.|
|This Ruf CTR which ran in the 130 mph class had been in the country less than 3 weeks starting the event with 1,300 miles on the clock.|
|The fabled Carl Young - leader of “Team Porsche” and his silver beer mat (look on the roof) has run every one of these events since it began - including a few years ago when he discharged himself from hospital to participate. He won his class yet again this year.|
|Matt and Nina from Las Vegas (where Nina is PCA Region President) with their immaculate, very well prepared RS America. The contagious enthusiasm these two exude was responsible for us wanting to go along to check this event out... Many thanks guys!!|
|When is a black 993 Twin Turbo NOT a Porsche? When it is a RUF CTR of course! This shot shows the similarities between two of the most amazing performance cars on the road.|
|All day Saturday the cars were on display at the local school football field, disappearing one at a time to go for a thorough tech inspection. The tech was very strict, with some entrants being turned away for things such as improper harness mounting or tires that were judged not in good enough shape.
Some entrants managed to correct their deficiencies and still got to run after passing tech the second time. Just by coincidence, the local tire store in a town of only a few thousand had some very exotic tires in unusual sizes in stock.
|“Team Porsche” Squadron leader Carl Young in pole position marked the “Porsche Parking only” row.|
|The following are just to show that there were actually cars other than Porsches in attendance.|
|DeTomaso Pantera [powered by Ford]||Viper owners showed up in bunches (they'd obviously heard that there are virtually no curves on the course).|
|The Aston Martin DB6 did look classy - but I'm sure “James” would never be seen dead with all those “vulgar” racing stickers on his car.||This Venom 650R has been featured in many performance car magazines and is famed for putting wrinkles in the pavement when you drop the clutch.|
|DeTomaso Mangusta - a scary car from the seventies.||There were a couple of the boys from Modena there looking pretty, but I don't recall their results.|
|The view from the top of the grandstand was indeed impressive ....||...shame those plastic cars in the front got in the way!|
Saturday evening was the steak dinner and off to bed early for an extremely early start on Sunday.
Choose your target.
The basic premise of the Silver State Classic Challenge is that the event is similar to a time/speed/distance rally with some interesting variations.
Each entrant selects the class he or she would like to run in, which is basically the average speed you intend to try and achieve over the 90 mile stretch of road - this is called your Target speed. The class winner is the driver whose average speed is closest to the target speed over the course.
Each target speed has a pre-determined Tech speed. The tech speed is the maximum speed at which you are allowed to drive without being disqualified. Likewise there is a minimum speed which is 30 mph below your target speed or 80mph whichever is higher.
There are radar traps along the route to ensure no-one exceeds their tech speed or drops below the minimum for their class. This is to stop drivers going flat out for the first 89 miles and then creeping along for the last mile crossing the finish with a perfect time. The full requirements that you and your car must fulfil are listed in detail on the website which is www.silverstateclassic.com. Basically, first time entrants are required to attend the driving school at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the Thursday before the event, plus “rookies” can't enter a class above 120 mph. The faster the class you choose to run the more safety equipment you need - 5 point harnesses, fire extinguishers, roll cages etc.
PLEASE NOTE: all of the above is a summary of my interpretation of the event rules - for specific details see the website www.silverstateclassic.com.
The track is hot.
Race day dawned early. Course workers were required to report to the start line by 4:30 ...... AM. At 5 (AM) we synchronized our timing watches and proceeded past officer friendly and his partner from NHP onto the closed course. We headed toward our station at checkpoint 3, which is 30 miles down the course. Once we were out of site of the officers (old habits die hard) we decided to “pick up the pace a little”. Tempting as it was to see what 3.6 liters of RS America can really do, and despite a perfect road surface, excellent visibility and several straights over 2 miles long, I didn't floor it. Put it down to old age, or maybe realizing that we had no 5-point harnesses, no helmets or fire extinguishers and that our tires had not been thoroughly checked and tech'ed, or maybe just me being a world class wuss..... but either way, we reached our checkpoint in around 15 minutes both wishing we'd been assigned to work the finish line!
The first car started at 8 AM and successive cars were started at one minute intervals. The 150-mph class were first.
If you have never been at the side of a road when a car goes past at over 150 mph, believe me, you would not believe what it feels like ........ to use a well worn CA phrase, it is AWESOME in the true sense of the word!
The classes came in descending order down to the 95 mph cars (the minimum), there was a brief break while the track was cleared and the two spotter planes and the life flight helicopter did a sweep of the course .... and then, the big boys came out. The unlimited class.
Suffice to say that of seven cars in the unlimited class, only one finished - which is exactly why they don't run first. The car was a Chrysler Le-Baron (at least in spirit) and went through one radar trap at 224 mph, with a final average speed over the 90 mile course, of 207.7801 mph.
Oncoming at 55mph ...... in the 130 mph class!
During the day, one of the checkpoint workers (there's one every couple of miles along the course) got on the radio and reported that a local fisherman had managed to come out of a (closed) side road, onto the (closed) course in his pick-up truck and was proceeding at approximately 55 miles per hour towards oncoming cars in the 130mph class!! This resulted in an immediate red flag for the whole course - all cars stopped immediately. At check point 3 we had to re-start the last two cars of the unlimited class (one of which we had to push start) and the lone Porsche 993 Twin Turbo running in the 180 mph class. It was a good thing we had listened closely at the course workers meeting the day before. The break worked out well for the Porsche driver as a couple of miles before the red flag came out a bird hit the windshield while the car was doing 192 mph. The car was undamaged (although a tad “grubby”) the bird however, was not having such a good day.
|Worst job of the day had to be trying to clean the windshield after hitting a bird at 192 mph.|
Overall, a few cars broke down, but there were no accidents or injuries, and everyone seemed to have had a blast at whatever level they were involved in the event.
Packing up & heading out.
After the last car crossed the finish line - which happened to be Matt & Nina from PCA Las Vegas in their immaculately prepared '93 white RS America - the road was re-opened and the packing up commenced.
After re-grouping the caravan headed back uneventfully to Vegas for the awards banquet at the Showboat Hotel - who incidentally were part sponsors of the event offering excellent rates and ample parking to race participants and crew.
The banquet was an absolute hoot! Driver and navigator teams were called out individually for the best in class awards, but people who were disqualified for being either too fast - or worse - too slow, were also asked to stand and be recognized. There were some surprised faces when the announcer informed a couple of teams that they were disqualified. There was also a special award given to one lucky participant based on the votes of the previously mentioned “flamboyantly dressed” female spectators at the car show. In White Pine county (in which Ely is situated), the trade in which these ladies work is legal, and their votes resulted in an absolutely huge trophy emblazoned with an inscription saying “Hookers Choice Award” being presented to a winner who (not surprisingly) chose anonymity.
No cigar ........
The most amazing thing about the weekend for me was the extreme accuracy of the average speeds of the drivers. For example, car number 94, a Corvette, in the 140 mph class (which means that he is aiming for an average speed over the 90 mile course of 140mph) achieved an actual average speed of 139.8651 so his average speed was 0.1349 of a mile per hour below a perfect score ............. pretty good you might think ... but! ... he was 11th (eleventh) in his class!!
The award for the most accurate average speed went to a 1995 ford Thunderbird in the 95 mph class.
His average speed (over a 90 mile course remember) was 95.0003 mph.
If you would like to see the results - check the website www.silverstateclassic.com.
The whole weekend was really great fun I would recommend it to anyone interested in performance cars, and seeing them do what they were designed to do - whether driving in the event, or simply working the course - after all there is no other way to be on the course watching the cars run.
We drove back to San Diego on Monday and were back at work on Tuesday. I asked a guy I work with how his weekend was and he said he'd had a “great” weekend - he said he got the lawn mowed, tidied the garage, watched the video Top Gun and barbecued a nice bit of fish for supper.
I guess it's different strokes for different folks!
So remember, the next time you're in a hurry in your RS America and there's a Chrysler Le-Baron in front of you ..... just think twice before you try the slick passing maneuver you love so much .... trust me! ..... you really DON'T want to p*** the guy off!!!
Keith V of CA