Off-road racing has always been a part of the Laughlin scene.
Drivers of heavy-duty racing trucks and buggies like the challenge of negotiating hairpin turns and switch-backs over a rugged desert course. The sport calls to them, daring racers to take their skills to the next level — which is why the 2018 McKenzie’s Rage at the River’s season finale is a popular event. Talk about saving the best for last.
The event, presented by Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts, a.k.a. SNORE, takes place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7-9 at the Laughlin Events Park. SNORE is an organization that has been a part of desert racing for nearly 50 years. Based out of Las Vegas, it was a natural fit for SNORE to look to Laughlin for the season ending finale.
The infusion of competitors, industry business representatives and race fans the event brings to town has been good for business.
“I can tell you that SNORE has taken the second weekend in December, that was traditionally the second slowest of the year for Laughlin and put it in the top 30 weekends in terms of economy and added people,” Ken Freeman, SNORE past president and a member of the board of directors said. “It’s good for the whole area down there. We sell more hotel rooms, and draw more spectators, and everybody makes more money.”
One of the main reasons for the success of this racing entity is its innovation and priority in improving the safety of the drivers and fans.
“Next year will be SNORE’s 50th year of racing,” Freeman said. “Many other promoters started racing in SNORE. SNORE was the first promoter to require fire suits back in the ’70s and head and neck restrains in 2012, years before other promoters. SNORE has a medical team at each race that supports the racers and spectators and I can tell you that in the 49 years of racing, SNORE has not had one driver pass away at a race.
“SNORE also was the first to use transponder timing for off road races. “Over the years, SNORE has promoted the Parker 400, Mint 400 and the Laughlin Rage at the River,” Freeman added. “SNORE has expanded the areas that are used for desert racing by being the first desert promoter to have a desert race in four different states — Utah, California, Nevada and Arizona.”
SNORE brings all of that to their annual season-ending grand finale race held in Laughlin each December. This year McKenzie’s Rage at the River, takes place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7-9. Driver and media registration is Thursday, Dec. 6 (6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Golden Nugget Laughlin in Gold Diggers Nightclub).
Friday is reserved for Time Trials, Drivers Fun Run, registration and the Tech & Contingency Inspection, where everyone can get together, meet the drivers and talk cars to their heart’s content.
While drivers live for the ground-pounding thrill of navigating the course at top speeds, they also have the opportunity to check out the course from a different perspective — by travelling at a slower pace.
“The Fun Run gives the racers a chance to see the track at a slow speed (25 mph) and prepare to race the next day. Entry fees range from $800 to $355, depending on the class,” Freeman said. “Racers can sign up on Friday to participate.”
Speaking of the course, there are a few changes this year.
“SNORE is expanding the in-field spectator area for more side-by-side racing this year,” Freeman said. “Last year SNORE tried running the track different directions and faced some issues. This year we are running the same direction both days to eliminate those issues.”
But smooth sailing, the course is not.
There is double the excitement because once again SNORE has teamed up with a similarly named group based a bit “more” locally, MORE (Mojave Off-Road Racing Enthusiasts), to present the race over a 13.5 mile course centered at the Laughlin Events Park (northwest corner of Bruce Woodbury and Thomas Edison Way, one block west of Casino Drive, up from the Edgewater entrance).
“MORE racing will be joining SNORE again for this race making it the final race of the season for both and deciding champions for 22 different classes,” Freeman said.
The event is sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Commission (LTC).
“SNORE is a long standing partner of Laughlin and we will continue to bring off-road racing to our fans for years to come,” said MJ Smith, executive director of the LTC. “BLM and Clark County worked closely with the organization to ensure access to miles of exciting course. We are lucky to live and work in an area where our governing bodies and population support events which brings millions of dollars to our local economy.”
While MORE is based out of Barstow, many teams competing are from Lake Havasu City, Kingman and Bullhead City.
“As of now, there are 368 cars signed up and we will allow 370 with a paid entry,” Freeman said. “After that, drivers go on a waiting list. They don’t need to qualify to participate in the finale, but it does help their starting position. SNORE allows all classes with 15 entries to qualify, so there’s a good chance that VW Beetle will be qualifying.”
While the organization is run by dedicated volunteers, they pride themselves on their podium payouts.
“As far as prize money, last year SNORE awarded $105,000 in prize money,” Freeman said.
The 2018 McKenzie’s Rage at the River will consist of two days of heat races on Saturday and Sunday (see schedule next page): 1300; 1500; 7s; 9; 5/1600; 1450; 2000; 1600; 1800; 10; 12; 5U; 3000, 4400; Stock Bug; 7200; 6100; 450 Pro; SXS Sport; Unlimited Truck; 8; and Heavy Metal.
When it comes to the top drivers, it is often a surprise as to who shows up.
The competitors in this event come from far and wide and are some of the best at what they do.
“Laughlin is the place everyone wants to race and SNORE will get some heavy hitters,” Freeman said. “Last year we had Robby Gordon show up to race. SNORE gets the top racers in the limited classes and they are very competitive heats — for example, 2-3-4 will be very competitive.”
Viewing the races...
Spectators can view the “Rage at the River” heats from two spectator areas located off of Thomas Edison Drive. (NOTE: no viewing from the area near the Laughlin High School as in years past. Also spectators won’t be able to park near “The Hill” which sits along Thomas Edison Drive and overlooks the in-field).
Volunteers in Partnership will be collecting $5 per car for the area near the infield of the Laughlin Events Park — the only designated area for spectators this year. Proceeds from spectator charges go to benefit local charities and scholarship programs.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, Dec. 7
Laughlin Events Park
6:40 a.m.-7:20 a.m. — late qualifying registration;
7:20 a.m. — Qualifying practice lap;
7:35 a.m.-11:30 a.m. — Qualifying starts;
11 a.m. — Fun Run Staging;
11:30 a.m. — Fun Run Starts — guided, speed controlled, 25 mph, one lap only, start/finish area;
1:30 p.m.-7:45 p.m. — Driver signup/registration in the Coronado Room within the Tropicana (adjacent to the Pavilion Theater).
1:45 p.m.- 8 p.m.—Tech and Contingency in the rear parking lot of the Tropicana with all vehicles on view for inspection. The public is invited to come out and view the cars/trucks/buggies and meet-and-greet with the drivers. There will also be vendors set up during the inspection in this parking lot located behind the Tropicana.
8 p.m. — Drivers’ Meeting in the Tropicana’s Pavilion Theater.
Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 8-9
Race schedule applies for both days; subject to change
Pre Runners (1 Lap)
600, 1500, 1300, SXS Sport
(4 laps); Stock bug (4 laps)
6:25 a.m.—Heat One staging
6:50 a.m.—Heat One start
8:16 a.m.—Heat One finish
6000, 3000 (5 laps);
7s, 9, 5/1600, SXS Unltd./Ltd.
(4 laps); Stock Full (4 laps)
7:58 a.m.—Heat Two staging
8:22 a.m.—Heat Two start
9:52 a.m.—Heat Two finish
1600 (5 laps); 1800 (4 laps)
9:20 a.m.—Heat Three staging
9:58 a.m.—Heat Three start
11:24 a.m.—Heat Three finish
10, 12, 5U (5 laps)
11:15 a.m.—Heat Four staging
11:39 a.m.—Heat Four start
1:09 p.m.—Heat Four finish
1, UT, 6100 (5 laps); 450Pro, 7200 (5 laps)
12:55 p.m.—Heat Five staging
1:21 p.m.—Heat Five start
2:52 p.m.—Heat Five finish
1450, 2000, 4400 (4 laps)
HM, 8 (4 laps)
2:35 p.m.—Heat Six staging
2:58 p.m.—Heat Six start
4:27 p.m.—Heat Six finish
Sunday Dec. 9
7 p.m. — Awards ceremony in Harrah’s Laughlin.
For information regarding SNORE visit SnoreRacing.net. For information on MORE, go to MoreRacing.net.