|Alaskan Jonathon Libby captured the 45th running of the Gold Strike SNORE 250 Nov. 1 near Jean, Nev., south of Las Vegas.
By Mike Henle
The Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts conducted its 45th annual Gold Strike SNORE 250 Nov. 1 near Jean and as usual, the event drew its share of competitors who had to drive long distances to compete.
However, the race’s overall winner Jonathon Libby made every other journey seem like a short hop, step and a jump considering that he made the trip from Dillingham, Alaska. He arrived on Wednesday before arriving at the track on Thursday.
Libby, 28, powered his Unlimited Truck to a four lap time of 3 hours, 51.24 minutes to win the event touring the typically challenging layout with an average speed of 64.4 mph. Sponsored by CBM Motorsports, ODR Motorsports Engineering and Sway Away, the friendly Libby drove his 2001 Toyota Tundra truck like he had stolen it right from the drop of the green flag recording a first-lap effort of 51.33 minutes.
“My family is from Alaska and I commercial fish up there now,” said Libby adding that the trip to Vegas covered about 4,000 miles. “I kind of grew up in the desert atmosphere. I have racing since 2007. Year before last, we won a championship in the 1400 series, but we needed to step up our competition so we got into a Trophy Truck.”
A part time Californian who lives primarily in Alaska, Libby isn’t afraid of long, challenging trips to compete in off-road racing events.
“We wanted to cover every race with SNORE in 2014,” Libby said. “It was really a lot of fun to be a part of the Mint 400 course that also included a lot of sand. There was a lot of running in the sand washes. It was a very enjoyable race and it didn’t beat you up too much.”
On the second lap Libby and his co-rider Roy Tompkins of Mentone, Calif., had to change a flat rear wheel. Other than that setback, it was smooth race.
“We will definitely be at Laughlin,” said Libby. “I like both the Laughlin race and the Battle of Primm because I like the two day format.”
Tech Director Bill Shapley praised the event saying everyone had an enjoyable time.
“We even had kids down there trick or treating,” said Shapley, 58. “We had a great time.”
With the kids having the times of their lives in the desert with Halloween on Friday night Mother Nature added the perfect addition to the field of entries.
‘The rains kept the dust down for at least the first lap,” analyzed Shapley, adding that the lead-footed Libby wasted no time at all tackling the Nevada desert for record runs.
Once Libby dropped the hammer, SNORE’s fifth race in the six-race 2014 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Garage Series became a blur for many watching the talented driver.
“He was hauling ass, that’s for sure,” said Shapley. “His truck is very fast. When I was at Checkpoint 1 at Night Ranch Road, he didn’t let off and I’d swear he was going 100 miles an hour.
Other winners included Victor Gruber in Class 1 with a time of 4:10.46, almost three minutes quicker than runner up Kelly Mathers; Geoffrey Cooley, whose Class 10 victory with a time of 3:59.28 was also good enough for a second place in the overall standings; Justin Buckley, whose 5:20.04 headed Class 12; Richard Robinson, whose three lap time of 3:43.35 topped Class 13; Justin Oquendo, the Class 1450 winner with a time of 3:2817; John Morgan, who captured Class 15 with a 3:26.26; Michael “Bud” Ward, 4:44.27 for the win in the 13-car 1600 class; Colton Gubler, Class 18; Justin Anderson in Class 2000; Darryl Kysar in Class 3000; Jon Lee in Class 7; Corey Torres in Class 9; and Ed Mahoney in the Stock Bug Class.
Shapley also lauded the efforts of Cooley, a Southern California charger whose Class 10 buggy spent more time with its wheels off the ground than amongst the rocks and the dirt.
“He was awesome,” analyzed Shapley. “He came through the road crossing and never let up. I couldn’t believe it. He hit so hard that the car went up its side and I really thought he was going over.”
Shapley said the course was rough and took out several cars.
“Everyone said it was a fun course,” he said. “But it was also very tough, too.”
SNORE will round out the season with the always popular Rage at the River in Laughlin Dec. 12-14.
“That’s all anyone could talk about at the awards,” Shapley added. “Laughlin is always a very tough race and it’s great for spectators, too.”
Gold Strike Director of Slot Operations Sean Holden said the event was well received.
“Everybody at SNORE is such a pleasure to work with,” said Holden, who has worked at the Gold Strike 14 years and with MGM Properties for many more than 24 1/2 years. “I worked with them last year as well. There is no drama when working with SNORE. Everyone takes everything in stride and takes care of things one thing at a time.”
Considering that the race has been rumored to be moving to Kingman, Ariz. Because of the high fees dictated by the Las Vegas Bureau of Land Management, Holden is hoping the race returns to Jean in 2015.
“It’s been around so long that it would be a shame if it were to move to Kingman and out of Nevada,” said Holden. “We would love to see it return to Jean and the Gold Strike.”
Further information can be found by visiting www.snoreracing.net.