Terrible's Cup II Brings Baja Up Close and Personal
It's been said that the Baja 1000 is the best race that's never been seen. While the Baja locals would certainly take exception to that statement, it is true that the average American fan hasn't been on-site in Baja during the granddaddy of all desert races. For the second year in a row, the Best Bad Guy in the West, Terrible Herbst, decided to bring "a chunk of Baja" to the fans in Las Vegas.
Built on the dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the SCORE Las Vegas Terrible's Cup II course was filled with jumps, turns, high-speed straightaways, and even a bit of high-speed pavement. The terrain was a true test of vehicle ability, but some quintessential Baja features were notably absent. Then again, how would you go about importing a bottomless silt bed, a steep, long, rocky uphill, or a booby trap? Terrible's Cup II was more like a happening than a mere race: Thursday night kicked off with a Pit Crew Challenge under the Viva Vision canopy at Fremont Street, and fans had the chance to meet their favorite drivers before the racing began on both Friday and Saturday nights. After each evening's racing was done, Terrible Herbst treated everyone to a spectacular fireworks show.
A typical SCORE event in the United States or Mexico has well over 20 Pro and Sportsman classes to offer; Terrible's Cup showcased a sample of those classes and put the buggies of Class 1, Class 10, SCORE Lite, and Class 1-2 1600 on the track. Representing the truck classes were Class 7, 7S, 7SX, and the marquee Trophy Trucks. The weather seemed directly imported from Baja, although not from the Baja 1000. During the 1000, which is held in November, the mercury huddles in the lower reaches of the thermometer. During Terrible's Cup, the sun scorched fans, photographers, and racers alike with daytime temperatures soaring over 120. After the sun set, the temperatures retreated a few notches to 110. A far cry from the fabled "dry heat" of the desert Southwest, the hot temperatures combined with dripping humidity. Sunblock, shade, and gallons of Gatorade went from amenities to essentials.
A winning race effort would require charging hard from the green flag and not letting up until the checkers flew six laps later. The tight quarters and short race lengths meant that "settling in" and pacing oneself in the race would be a sure way to lose. The time to hit the gas was NOW.