By Mike Henle
CALIENTE – The return of the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts to this area about 180 miles north of Las Vegas lived up to its billing as an action-packed economic shot in the arm.
The SNORE Race Fuel 250 May 29-30 drew a field of 89 entries competing over a 42-mile course complete with everything from water crossings to wooden bridges and the traditional challenges faced by off-road racers in what must be considered one of the most unique logistical combinations in the sport.
Rich in history and eager to welcome outdoor enthusiasts, this charming town with friendly people and a slower lifestyle served as the perfect getaway for many; and with limited availability for off-road events, the latest presentation attracted earth-rumbling machinery, fun-loving serious race teams along with wounded members of the military who joined the competition by running shotgun in a Ford Ranger Trophy Truck with driver Tony Scott, a 49 year-old U.S. Navy veteran of Desert Storm who powered handled the driving.
Las Vegas native Fernie Padilla, a 30 year-old racer powering a Class 1-2 1600 entry, captured class and overall victories in the event. The triumph was his first overall victory in a car owned by Southern California businessman Vic Ziegler.
A graduate of Silverado High School who works for his parents at Freedom Medical Supply in Las Vegas, Padilla had the time of his life recording a four-lap effort of 4 hours, 31.17 minutes.
Padilla said the combination of a buggy prepared by good friend Dale Pabst along with a special agreement with Ziegler helped make the weekend one that the entire family will never forget.
“It was a fun race,” Padilla said. “I really loved the course and I didn’t have a single problem. The scenery was really amazing.”
Ironically, Padilla had no idea that he had won the overall title until reporting for the banquet Saturday evening where he was awarded first-place money of $2,500.
“It’s unheard of for a 1600 to win overall,’ he said. “We only have about 80 horsepower.”
Padilla won three class titles in SNORE in 2014 and picked up a second place at the Battle of Primm this year.
For the Race Fuel 250, Scott’s co-riders included U.S. Marine Joseph Sutt of Cincinnati and U.S. Army veteran Curtis Armstrong of Michigan.
As usual, the veterans had a great time competing with Scott, who said the race was a great bonding experience which included two laps each for Sutt and Armstrong.
“It was the first off-road ride for both of them,” said the energetic Scott. “Racing is built around the military structure that takes a team effort to get things done. This sort of thing brings the guys back into their element. We get them in the trucks and scare the hell out of them and they all come back as pit crew members in other races.
“They had seen desert racing on television, but had never experienced it first-hand before.”
The owner of R&R Hitches in Kingman, Ariz. Scott added that the concept has been so popular that he’s studying the idea of adding another truck to the team to accommodate other veterans.
Other class winners included Sean Gilbert (1); Ron Whitton (unlimited truck); Colton Gubler (12); Richard Glaszcak (10); Emily Shapiro (13); Douglas Arnold (18); Chris Sarris (5/1600); Joshua Englestead (9); Kyle Cox (1500); Nick Isenhouer (1400); Kevin McKeown (2000); John Bowers (Heavy Metal); Arrone Travaglia (3000); and Cisco Bio (11).
The blockbuster weekend kicked off May 28 with SNORE’s annual Meet and Greet at Caliente Elementary School.
SNORE President Kenny Freeman said the event was wildly-successful and heralded by the Bureau of Land Management and others involved with the preparation and followup with the event.
In fact, Freeman said the following was so strong that it actually caught Caliente businesses off-guard. By Saturday afternoon, the only problem was that the local merchants ran out of bottled water, ice and beer.
“It was a great event,” said Freeman, “and we’ll be back. We love Caliente.”
SNORE will now take a break from the summer heat before returning with the KC HiLites Midnight Special Sept. 11-12 in Lucerne Valley, Calif., the 46th annual SNORE 250 in Kingman, Ariz. Oct. 23-24 and the Rage at the River Dec. 11-13 in Laughlin, Nev., rounding out the 2015 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Championship Series Schedule.
Further information can be found by visiting www.snoreracing.net.
Las Vegas driver Fernie Padilla powers his 1-2 1600 entry to the overall victory May 30 in the SNORE Race Fuel 250 in Caliente, Nev. (Richie Abbott/Instant Images).