Reno, NV – Competitors and fans were both treated to another epic event at the 2nd annual HDRA Eldorado Reno 500. The Reno 500 is a week-long event packed with fun for everyone with support from the city of Reno, the RSCVA and Northern Nevada Motor Madness. Course re-con commenced on Sunday July 7 to let the competitors know what they were in for. On Tuesday the 9th, starting positions were drawn for the classes who would not qualify at the sports book in the Eldorado Resort Casino and beamed out to the masses by Dirt Live on the internet.
On Wednesday, the Dirt Live Expo got underway. The Expo spotlighted Off Road Vehicle Manufacturers and Suppliers. The first outdoor off road expo in the history of downtown Reno, it offered displays by local and international dealers, distributors and promoters of off road events. The Expo promises to be the cornerstone of annual events to follow in coming years. Thursday would have live music, LivFast freestyle Motocross shows and incredible stunts performed by the Monster 2 Wheel Asphalt Stunt Team at the Dirt Live Expo.
The unlimited cars and trucks were at speed during time trials in the afternoon; qualifying for starting positions. Time trials were followed by the Monster Energy party back at the Eldorado and the Wide Open HDRA Racetown USA party at the Silver Legacy. If that wasn’t enough there were HDRA pit stop bars at the Eldorado and Silver Legacy Resorts with specials on drinks and Monster Energy. The Monster Energy girls were present and video screens showed action from last year’s event.
Friday things really started to get in gear with an all-day car show, autograph signing and general good time event during technical inspection. Monster Energy DJ Roxanne Dawn was doing her thing at the turntable and was on the street and at the track with announcer Diane Dahlgren co-hosting the events. Instead of the teams pushing their vehicles through contingency they parked them along the streets in front of the Eldorado and Silver Legacy resorts while the technical inspectors made their rounds.
This gives the fans a chance to really hang out with their favorite drivers and spend some time getting a good look at the cars up close. Drivers and crew have a chance to meet with their fans, sign autographs and pose for a few pictures. It’s a fan friendly event unlike any other.
After all the fun leading up to the race, it was time to get serious. Competitors lined up early Saturday morning to battle each other and the challenging course at the Tahoe-Reno Motorplex. It hasn’t gotten any easier since the inaugural event last year. The course has changed a bit but the punishing rocks have stayed the same. As rocks were kicked aside by the passing cars, new ones emerged to take their place.
Teams who raced in last year’s event came prepared with a strategy to make it to the end. Some of the lightweight cars had no issues with the rocks but the heavy horsepower teams tore through tires. Regardless of manufacturer, their tires took a beating. Most stopped on every lap to replace tires that were chewed up by the rocks. The pit crews earned their stripes and the faster stops had a real impact in their teams overall position.
At the pit crew challenge on Friday, it was BJ Baldwin’s crew who finished first but loose lug nuts gave the win to the Green Army crew of Justin Davis.
On race day when it really counted, the Green Army Crew was changing tires and dumping fuel in only 31 seconds. No doubt that contributed to their second place overall finish. Not to be outdone, BJ’s crew was given credit by class 7 winner Josh Quintero who thanked them for helping to change his tires faster than the time it took to dump fuel in his tank.
He used the time gained to close in on class 7 leader Jonathan Brenthel. When Brenthel stopped for a flat, Quintero motored in for the victory. Brenthel finished second, Steve Kovach third.
Justin Davis had a good run for second overall but for the Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Trophy Truck team of Tim Herbst and Larry Roeseler it was even better. They ran trouble free all day to take the win. The team had been moving up a position at every race taking a third at the season opener, then a second in Ridgecrest and finally the top spot in Reno. “It was very challenging with the rocks and dust out there,” said Tim Herbst, “Credit goes to Larry for handing me a great truck and the lead. The truck was tight and everything was great, it was in perfect condition. From there we just watched the splits, knew how much time we needed and took it into the finish.” Larry put in three incredible laps to position the team for the win. “After passing BJ and Sam Berri I was physically first with Justin behind me,” said Larry, “Then I just started to stretch out the lead. The course is great, it’s technical but it’s definitely a driver’s course. You have to be smart about it.”
The #91 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Trophy Truck of Troy Herbst and Ryan Arciero was running third when they decided to turn up the pace to try and catch the leaders. “This is the gnarliest course we do all year, gnarlier than the Baja,” said Ryan Arciero, “I’ve never seen so many rocks on a course in my entire life.” On the last lap they suffered engine failure and then a fire. Not willing to give up, they cobbled it together enough to idle across the finish line in 7th place before the engine was completely toast.
Third place eventually went to the #18 of Juan Carlos Lopez followed by TJ Flores who was subbing for BJ Baldwin in the #97. BJ qualified the Monster Energy Toyo Tires Chevrolet in the number one spot on Friday. First off the line, he lost his rear brakes to a rock strike at mile 4 but kept going until mile 18 so his crew could make repairs in the main pits where he handed the truck over to TJ.
In the open wheeled classes Richard Boyle took his second victory of the year. His two wins and a second place at Ridgecrest put him solidly in the class one points lead. Cody Parkhouse finished second, Chad Dohrman in third. In class 10, it was a huge race for winner Peter Hajas. Not only did he win the race but he also won the Dakar Challenge. His team will receive free entry into the 2014 Dakar Rally.
He is already figuring out the incredible logistics required to compete in the epic 14 day rally that traverses Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Second place went to Matt Cullen followed by Mikey Lawrence in third. In class 1600, Lucas Knecht continued his lock on the podium this season, taking his third win in a row.
He was ecstatic after the race stating that he learned about Wide Open Excursions on the internet and is now hooked on offroad racing. He also invited everyone to come join him at a Lakers game. Jon Largent was on the podium once again in second place. Other class winners include Donald Harper (5-1600), James Burman (7sx), Bill Belansky (Heavy Metal), Derek Fletcher (Class 8), Ryan Frisby (3000), Andrew Mc Carthy (Sptsmn Ltd Truck), Cronus Dillard (Sptsmn Unl Truck) and Sean Cook Stock UTV.
Victory in the Reno Extreme motorcycle race went to Kawasaki rider Jacob Argubright from Northridge, Calif. The brutally tough 20-mile course at the Tahoe-Reno Motorplex was round 8 of the 2013 AMA National Hare and Hound Series. Argubright broke the five-race AMA NHHS winning streak of KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli; beating him by two minutes and three seconds. Caselli is the reigning season point champion who still holds a big lead in this year’s point battle. Factory KTM rider Ivan Ramirez finished third.
The Eldorado Reno 500 is easily one of the toughest events on the planet, just ask the racers who took on the challenge. Things won’t be getting much easier as the series heads to Moapa, Nevada for the Moapa Big Horn 300 Sept 27-29. The Moapa River Indian Reservation north of Las Vegas is the location of the legendary north course used by the Mint 400 race in years past. It’s known for being rocky, rough and loaded with silt. You won’t want to miss it!
For the latest information visit www.hdrarace.com
Photography By: Brian Binkert