The SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is the first race of the five-event off-road desert race series, but more importantly it serves as a kick-start to a new year of off-road racing. New sponsor stickers are plastered over cars, some new teams are tackling different classes, and much like the New Year is for dieters hoping to shed a few pounds, this first event gives racers the hope of starting off a championship drive by winning the first race of the season.

The Laughlin Desert Challenge is unique to the longer, more tedious races SCORE puts on south of the border. This race, which is held at the Laughlin Event Park just off Casino Drive, features a 6.25-mile loop course. The event at one point consisted of two days of racing with each serving as individual events, but SCORE now combines the racing from both days to determing the overall winner. More on that when racing begins tomorrow.

BJ Baldwin shows off his new Monster sponsorship at the 2011 Laughlin Leap.

With two days of racing on Saturday and Sunday, Friday serves as a warm-up for racers with qualifying throughout the day, while the evening culminates with the Laughlin Leap. This year, SCORE gave a little more lift to the jump, providing more of a launching pad than in years past.

There were limited buggies that took to the jump, Class 7 trucks, and then the big boys in Class 1 buggies and Trophy Trucks. The day’s fastest qualifier Robby Gordon, who was disqualified from Dakar and flew home to race the event, set a monster mark by jumping his Speed Energy truck just over 125 feet. Although most thought it was Gordon’s win, it was actually a Class 1 that took the honors, as Jeff Dickerson edged out Gordon by a mere six inches. Gordon posted a mark of 125, but Dickerson took the win a jump of 125 feet, 6 inches. Both earned $2,500 for wins in their respective classes.

Jeff Dickerson launched 125 feet, 6 inches at the 2011 SCORE Desert Challenge, which was enough for the overall win. Photo: Art Eugenio

“I’m on a roll so far,” said Dickerson, who’s competing in an almost brand-new Class 1 car that’s only been in once race before this. “This is my first SCORE race, and so far it’s going well. I just want to thank Alumicraft for this great car.”

Robby Gordon lost out to Jeff Dickerson in this year's Laughlin Leap by 6 inches.

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