By Mike Henle
CALIENTE, Nev. – The Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts brought the annual SNORE Knotty Pine 250 here June 10 again and a good old-fashioned shootout occurred.
Thirty-one year-old Joe David won the Overall and Unlimited categories by just 43 seconds over Class 10 charger Justin Davis. David’s victory added to his family’s off-road collection of impressive victories since his dad, Tom Koch, won the legendary Mint 400 in the 1980s.
“I started fifth and passed the first two cars in front of me in the first 20-30 miles,” explained David. “Pat Dean had lower control problems. Then, I passed the other car on mile marker 40 on the third lap.”
In traditional form, the Caliente course was extremely challenging for the field of almost 100 entries. David hadn’t run the event for five years, so the all-new layout was a special challenge for the hard-running competitor.
“It offered everything and reminded me of Mexico,” David continued. “Some of the places on the course were very narrow. I was able to crawl through it without hurting the car and I was really worried wondering if I was going to get caught in a bottleneck. I had to be very careful because you cannot go that fast in the corners.”
With David and Davis running so closely throughout the Knotty Pine 250, there was an unusual communication that enabled David to keep track of his nearest competitor.
“Justin and I both run Checkers, so I could hear his chatter on the radio,” David explained. “I knew he was close to me and running hard. I just tried to keep the same path.”
David had a long list of sponsors helping him to the victory including Brian Waters at Napa Auto Parts in Ridgecrest, Fox Shocks, WRP Thread Locker, Weddle Industries, Mils Castillo Motorsports, Optima Batteries, F&L Racing Fuels, McKenzie’s Performance Products race shop in San Diego, BFG Tires, and Fabrication Unlimited Squared Fabrication in Ridgecrest.
“I had zero issues with the car,” said David, who also had a slim victory of only 36 seconds in a MORE race in Barstow earlier this year. “It worked great and the motor never missed a beat. We just signed up for the Vegas to Reno race, so I didn’t want to hurt the car. In off-road racing, you have to have some good luck, too.”
Knowing that David loves the ultimate challenge of off-road racing, he’s now planning to run the annual SNORE KC HiLites Midnight Special Aug. 4-6 that will be conducted in the dark at Jean, Nev. A unique event that was originally started to offset the brutal daytime summer heat of Las Vegas, the next race has been a staple on the SNORE schedule for more than 40 years.
Never one to let off the gas, Davis gave the event his best effort in what had to be one of the closest-ever SNORE finishes. A veteran of the sport, Davis has been competing in off-road racing since he was 16 and has recorded a strong list of victories including the Baja 1000 (classes 1 and 12). In fact, he won the Baja 1000 solo in 2011 when he almost won the overall title.
“We had no issues,” said Davis, 24-year-old resident of Chino, Calif. “I did have a flat on the third lap. I skipped over the top and there were four big boulders and I skipped over the top while hitting one a little too hard.”
Davis, who works for his father in a landscape company, said the dust was an issue.
“I couldn’t really see much,” Davis said, who lost the Baja 500 by only 30 seconds. “We went through the canyon at about mile marker 41 or 42, and I took my time because I saw a bunch of people pulled over with flats. I was really patient and when there was no dust in the canyon, I kept on going.
“It was a very patient day and I wasn’t trying to set the world on fire. I have been to Mexico before and I learned that patience is very important in off-road racing.”
Davis said he, too, was going to run the Midnight Special.
“I won Class 10 last year and was second overall,” he said. “My favorite is night racing. You just block out all the stuff you can’t see. I think I’m faster than during the day.”
Other winners included Chad Cummins (Class 12); Mike Frye (unlimited truck); Wayne Lugo (1450 Pro); Justin Smith (5 Unlimited); Brandyn Kaylor (5-1600); Fernie Padilla (1-2 1600); Matthew Bailey (Stock Full); Jim Rossi (7); Tom Kessman (3000); Kenny Ham (9); Michael Brenner (Stock Bug); Bret Ward (SxS Pro Limited); Randy Adams (SxS Pro Turbo unlimited); Casey Benito (1450 Sportsman); Dillon Tomky (2000); Bill Shapley (Limited Sportsman) and Josh Tedesco (Unlimited Sportsman).
Further information regarding the Knotty Pine 250 and SNORE’s 2017 Patrick’s Signs/McKenzie’s points series can be found by visiting www.snoreracing.net.