In this world of information overload, it’s rare when the final product lives up to the hype. Looking back at the HDRA, Eldorado, Fireworks 500 race in Reno, Nevada the event delivered much more than promised.
The pre-race activities on Virginia Street which included the Fueled by Monster Energy Freestyle MX and Ninja stunt team show with live DJ, the Great American barbecue festival, the car show atmosphere and the live bands were an enormous hit with everyone in attendance. First time visitors to the Reno area were treated to countless recreational opportunities including fishing, hiking, fireworks, gambling and dining that surpassed expectations.
For the racers it was something new entirely. Typically people ask, “What was the course like?” which creates a dilemma due to the fact that the track may have set a new benchmark when it comes to rating courses. From this point on people will not compare this course to others, others will be compared to it. Ingeniously laid out, it meandered across the hills and through countless canyons in a cloverleaf shape, so spectators had numerous views of cars racing on various loops at the same time. It also set a new standard for ultimate challenges. People often talk of the rock garden on the mint 400 course or the rough sections found in Barstow, California but those are only sections of the course.
The Fireworks 500 was described by overall race winner Mike Mitchell as having “never-ending rocks.” He unofficially renamed the race the “Bone-crusher 500” but also threw out a challenge to anyone that thinks they are fast to come run this race.
Drivers had to push to stay out front but any mistake could potentially end their day. Open Truck winner James Horvath added, “We proved if you take care of the equipment in a long tough race like this your chances for a great finish goes way up. We held a fast, steady pace without any mistakes. That was the key to our victory.”
Class 10 winner Greg Parker had more of the same to say. “That has to be the most physically and mentally demanding course ever. We were racing the course not the other teams. It would have been hard to do two laps without a break. We pitted more than we had planned but our crew of friends, family members and volunteers worked like a fine watch. It was extremely challenging but I loved it!”
The Wide Open Baja cars had an incredible field of competitors. Rally driver and TV personality Andrew Comrie-Picard, who has many race wins to his credit, was driving Wide Open car 004. The WO-002 and WO-003 cars were loaded with Monster Energy athletes and executives. The teams were organized to pit drivers from the United States would battle against the International stars. Representing the USA were Jake Brown (Mega-Ramp), Makua Rothman (Surf), Jason Britton, (Stunt Bike) and Sam Pontrelli, VP of Marketing.
The International team headed by Andre Villa (FMX, Spain) included Alain Escobedo (GP Bike, Mexico), Jose “Pajaro” Luis Perez (Enduro Cross, Mexico),Chris Miereles Suazo (BMX, Mexico) and Sports Mktg. Mgr. of Mexico, Mariano Castelao. Comrie-Picard had the most dirt racing experience out of the field making him the odds-on favorite. After a tough race though, it was the International team who came out on top; Comrie-Picard in second and the US team rounding out the field.
For those of you who are well versed in off-road racing’s history, the HDRA Fireworks race of years past had a reputation for being extremely hot and tough as hell. The temperatures might not have been as intemperate as they were back then but the course surpasses anything anyone had experienced.
The Fireworks 500 also set records for huge payouts to the winners. Overall winner Mike Mitchell took prize money and several cash bonuses from Monster Energy, Eldorado Hotel & Casino and the many sponsors who supported this race in the sum of $21,625 not including contingency money and product.
Monte Tibbitts in Heavy Metal, a class that does not usually get a lot of love, took home first place prize money and a $2,000 bonus from Monster Energy for being the “Most Dominating” driver. The cash goes a long way for any team but the bragging rights are priceless. Whether they vowed to do better next year or couldn’t wait to defend their title earned in this year’s race, drivers and crews are anxious to take another crack at the new HDRA, Fireworks 500.
Class 1 – 1st Mike Mitchell / Monster Energy Bonus, Eldorado Bonus & Prize Money $21,625
Class 1 – 2nd Clayton Scudder / $1,155 – 3rd Tony Murray / $416
Open Truck – James Horvath / $1,260
Open Truck – Cameron Steele / Monster Energy Fastest Qualifer Bonus $2,000
Heavy Metal – Monte Tibbitts / Monster Energy Bonus, Eldorado Bonus & Prize Money $5,280
Class 10 – 1st Greg Parker / Eldorado Bonus & Prize Money $4,222 – 2nd David Norris / $370
Class 12 – Todd Stemmerman / $480
Class 1600 – Rob Archibald / Eldorado Bonus & Big O Tires Air Cooled Award $2,140
Class 1600 – Vince Viola / Eldorado Bonus $1,640
Class 7 – Josh Quintero / Eldorado Bonus & Prize Money $2,624
1400 – Jeremy Deakins / $350
Wide Open – Andre Villa / $200
UTV – Bill Morris / Eldorado Bonus & Prize Money $2,830
HDRA’s next race on the schedule takes in the nightlife in Primm, Nevada August 24-26. Night racing brings its own set of challenges for the drivers and crews. The Dusk ‘til Dawn 300 will take place on a 50 mile course allowing drivers to open it up after dark. HDRA, the sanctioning body By Racers, For Racers continues to deliver the challenging courses, unique events, team exposure and prize money that makes racing meaningful. Come out to Primm and join us!