The 15th Annual Silver State Nitro Challenge kicked off today with two rounds of controlled practice for all classes: 40+, Open, and Expert Truck and Buggy, Open and Expert Electric Buggy, and 2WD and 4WD short course. The first practice round this morning allowed all 26 heats of drivers seven minutes of practice to learn the layout, with an additional five minute run this evening used to seed the qualifying rounds that start tomorrow.
Unlike The Dirt Nitro Challenge, which separates Truck and Buggy classes onto different days, every class will compete on each of the three days of racing this weekend. Two qualifying rounds will run on Friday, with the final round and lower main events happening on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s finals. Racing action begins at 8 AM Friday morning for the first of the IFMAR-style qualifiers, beginning with Open Truck.
The biggest stories today all surrounded the track, both its layout and surface. In typical Silver State fashion the track started to break apart as the rounds wore on, with some of the jumps (the right side double-double heading toward the drivers’ stand, in particular) getting increasingly difficult to clear. The Southern Nevada RC (SNVRC) crew operating this year’s event brought in additional truckloads of clay in an attempt to keep the track from rutting up, so we’ll see what it does throughout the weekend. This year’s layout is a bit tamer than in previous years, which could mean cleaner heads-up racing when the track starts to get beat up.
With two other events happening in other parts of the country, the Short Course Showdown Nationwide Tour stop #3 in Milwaukee, WI and JConcepts Spring Indoor Nationals in Carrollton, TX, the Expert classes at this year’s Silver State seem a bit lighter than usual. Most notably, The Dirt Nitro Challenge Pro Buggy winner Ryan Maifield is not in attendance, instead racing electric off-road with his tire sponsor down in Texas. Just three heats each of Pro Truck and Pro Buggy will run this weekend, a small chunk of the 260 entries spread among the ten divisions.
After today’s final practice heat, we spoke with Team Kyosho frontman and defending Pro Truck class champion Jared Tebo about his opinions of this year’s track, as well as SNVRC’s Brandon Pitt on what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude.