A Glimpse Back at our First Annual Race

A Glimpse Back at our First Annual Race

This article has been provided by a SORC driver and posted on our SORC blog with permission:


The Sandhills Open Road Challenge was held August 11, 2001, in Arnold Nebraska.  You might be wondering where Arnold Nebraska is; it is about 40 miles west of Broken Bow, Basically a wide spot in the road on Hyw. 92. Arnold is a town of about 675 of Nebraska’s nicest people. Many people wonder how a town of this size could organize an open road race.  This is the short version of the story. A man by the name of Joe Shown drove this road in 1978 and thought it would make a wonderful road course.  He often thought of it as the same type of twisted winding road that the late Formula 1 driver James Clark honed his skills on in his native Scotland. The idea was merely that until January of 2000 when Shown found himself retired and looking for new toys. His long time desire to own a Corvette led him to Konken’s Corvette Store. Upon taking delivery on a “primo” 94 LT1 Joe drove the road once again on his return trip home. The idea reoccurred to him and he reasoned that if it could be done in Nevada, why not Nebraska?  With the help and encouragement of that varitable dynamo, Bruce Younglove, Joe and Bruce approached the Custer County Board of Supervisors in March 2000 with the idea. After a lot whining by a couple of contrarians and with the help and support of many fine folks from Arnold and the Silver State Classic, the idea became reality. The Sandhill’s Open Road Challenge was launched on August 11, 2001.

All of the racers were in Arnold by Friday noon for Technical inspections of their cars.  The car count was held to 40 cars, because of the short period of time the road could be closed to run the race.  After Tech there was a parade through down town Arnold (about 5 blocks long), the parade ended where they had blocked off an area of the town for a car show.  I think there was about 2000 people walking through the show, quite a turn out for a town of 675 people.  After the show we stayed in Arnold to eat supper, we had a great steak in the local bar.  After supper we made the trip back to Broken Bow, the only motel in Arnold was full so we had to stay in Broken Bow.  On the trip back to Broken Bow I had the opportunity to race a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa with my Corvette, WOW Ferrari’s are SLOW.

Saturday morning and it was time for the Road Rally before the open road race.  In my opinion the Road rally was the worst event of the weekend.  We had to drive from Broken Bow to Callaway in 28 minutes without directions or exact mileage. As close as I can figure we were about 30 seconds slow. The second leg of the rally was from Callaway to Arnold, once again we had no directions or exact mileage but we had to make the trip in 32 minutes.  Callaway is a town of 500 people and we got lost trying to get out of town. We got to Arnold’s city limits in exactly 32 minutes but we never found the finish line, so much for our rally times.

After the road rally it was time to do the high-speed leg of the challenge.  The race was held on a county road going north just outside of Arnold.  There were 5 speed classes 80,90,100,110 and the 120 class cars were teched and classified according to the safety equipment in the car.  The max speed allowed on the road was 140 mph.  We entered the 120 class with a tech speed of 140, when we started the race I was not sure if it was possible to average 120 and not exceed 140, the reason was because the road has a bunch of tight turns and the surface of the road is not very smooth.  The race was run in boomerang fashion, which means we ran 26 miles north and as soon as all the cars finished the first leg we ran 23.5 miles to the south on the same road.  The reason for the shorter run back was because we started the first leg on the north side of Arnold, the race officials thought it would be a bad idea to have cars running into the town of Arnold at 120 mph on the return trip.  When we left the starting line we found that the road actually smoothed out at speeds around 120 mph.  We were right on our time on the first leg of the race 26 miles in exactly 13 minutes 00 seconds.  The 23.5-mile return trip should have taken us 11 minutes 45 seconds but we were off that mark by 2 seconds.  Our total time for the 49.5-mile race was 24 minutes 47 seconds for an average speed of 119.836 mph.  This was good enough to earn us first place in the 120mph class.

The entire event was run with out an incident of any kind, there was only one car that didn’t finish the race due to mechanical problems.  Next years event is going to be some what different, plans are being made to run the same road for the high speed event, get rid of the road rally portion and add a one mile shoot out.  Every one that ran the race said that they would be back next year because they enjoyed the race, and the hospitality the people of Arnold showed to them.

Written by Ted Hughes

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