Racers and Fans Endure 120 Degrees of Mercury for a Piece of Off-Road Glory
Imagine you're sitting in a climate-controlled corner office. The view is good. The temperature is comfortable. The thermometer shows an ideal 70 degrees of mercury. Now turn the thermostat up 50 degrees. Yes, 50 degrees! Once the temperature has reached the selected 120 degrees Fahrenheit, exchange your casual office wear for a long-sleeved, long-legged racing suit. Strap a helmet over your sweat-beaded forehead. Clip yourself into a safety harness and try to fend off other competitors as you pilot your 750hp Trophy Truck through sand washes, cross-grain whoops, and blinding dust. If that sounds like fun, you just might have what it took for the racers who faced the SCORE Henderson's Terrible 250 in July
The SCORE season starts in chilly January at the Laughlin Desert Challenge and concludes with the Baja 1000 in brisk November. Between the two races lies the inferno of July in Henderson, Nevada.
At the Baja 1000, many of the racers are first-time racers. They come to realize long-held dreams of competing in this famous race. At the 1000, newcomers number as high as 20 percent. At Henderson, there were fewer than three first-time racers. The SCORE Henderson's Terrible 250 was clearly a venue for the big boys - committed racers looking to gather series points for the season.
SCORE tried a few changes to make the experience more enjoyable. Contingency, usually held in the middle of the day, was moved into the late afternoon and evening. It helped, although temps registered 118 degrees at 5:30 p.m.
The next day, the slower classes started at 6:30 a.m. SCORE chose an unusual starting order - slower classes first, faster classes later - in an effort to ease racecourse mishaps and provide greater safety. The slower classes were greeted with warm-but reasonable 85-degree temperatures at their crack-of-dawn start time.
As the slower classes rounded their first lap, the mercury shot skyward, and it was time for the faster classes, including Trophy Truck and Class 1, to start. Although the staggered start times seemed odd, the strategy seemed to work. Racecourse drama was kept to a minimum, and racers were able to focus on the task at hand: racing.