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Wide Open Nevada Tour/Race Buggy - From The Driver's Seat

Posted in Events on March 1, 2011
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We were scooting across the ground in deep silty ruts when the rear tire caught an edge and popped the car up and a little sideways. My amateur driving had let the sandy course spit us out of the groove, yet I knew to counter-steer into the slide and lay back into the throttle. The car was quickly righted and we were hauling tail down two-track to our next destination.

We were high in elevation in central Nevada in an area known as the Great Basin. Sprawling, brushy desert runs great distances, yet is pierced by picturesque mountain ranges bordering huge valleys. As I drove, I traded time between reading the fast approaching bumps and curves of the dirt course we traveled and quickly gazing over the scenic views that lay all around me.

I was driving a Wide Open Nevada tour/race buggy. Wide Open Excursions has offered driving tours in their cars for about 13 years on the peninsula of Baja. Recently Wide Open Nevada has started offering similar trips in The Silver State for those not wanting to travel to Mexico, or for repeat customers wanting to experience a new location. The concept is clever and the execution effective: Put people in $100,000 race cars and let them drive fast and explore this jewel of terrain.

A group of us had converged in Las Vegas for an early fall trip that would span four and a half days. We met the guys from Wide Open at their shop just south of town where we were fitted for helmets and set out for the three-hour trip northward in their RV.

Upon arrival in the town of Goldfield, we checked into our hotel rooms and later headed over to the Santa Fe Saloon, the local watering hole that's been serving cool drinks to dusty miners and travelers for over a hundred years. As with a number of the towns we'd visit over the next several days, Goldfield was literally strewn with mechanical and architectural history from a rich gold mining past that once saw the town swell to over 20,000 inhabitants. Today, about 400 or so still call this quiet town home.

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Wide Open had given us a brief orientation and a short test drive in the cars so we knew what to expect as we hit the dirt for our first day of driving. We made occasional stops to take a break or to check out some interesting site. We'd visit several more living ghost towns over the next four days as we criss-crossed the expansive valleys, climbed and descended wooded trails at high elevations, and drove at high speeds soaking up whoops and bumps.

Closed face race helmets were provided and a Parker Pumper ensured us a supply of fresh air at all times.

We covered an average of 150 miles each day, swapping drivers as we chose. We followed a guide car and were followed by a trailing support car. The crew and the entire driving experience were both excellent, and we were left to have fun in the buggies pretty much as we chose to.

If you're looking for a memorable experience that treats you to majestic desert views, high-speed off-road challenges, meeting new friends, all while dripping with old west history, then check out the Wide Open Nevada trips. They offer the Great Basin loops in central Nevada and Mohave Desert runs that leave from the Vegas area. It's a trip we won't forget!

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Freedom And Formation
So how does it work? Typically, when one conjures up notions of a follow-the-leader-type tour, one might imagine a scenario where everyone runs a steady pace, often dictated by the slowest participant, or a reserved guide. I found the tour let each of us play at our own pace and were allowed plenty of freedom to get ourselves into trouble if we so chose. That is to say, Wide Open doesn't want you to trash the cars, but certainly lets you push them to your limits. Fun indeed!

Radio communication is used between all the cars, with drivers and co-drivers having radio sets in their helmets. The lead guide storms ahead and relays back turn information and terrain cautions to the cars based on odometer readings clicked off on the Lowrance GPS unit in each car. "Caterpillar" stops are used on occasion to regroup or hold a car at a stop point until the next car arrives. This helps keep the group on the same trail and moving forward, with minimal stop time or delay. Once our group got comfortable communicating we had a fun rhythm going with keeping the cars moving at a good pace.

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Wide Open Nevada
Irvine, CA 92618

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