The challenge is racing 10 nights over a span of 11 days, not for the faint of heart or those without many spare parts and a great pit crew. Rattlesnake Raceway hosted the first two events Thursday and Friday nights, as part of Fallon’s Octane Fest.
Series director, or dictator has he laughing called him self, is Ken Hansen, who said “The Iron Man is a sub series under the Wild West Modified Touring Series that travels to six states.”
The Iron Man Challenge came after six Northern Nevada tracks contacted Hansen and asked if he would come over and for two-day shows at those facilities. He had to tell them the distances were too great, as the driver’s couldn’t afford the cost.
“So I contacted them this year, after telling them all no, and said, ‘OK we can do this and I think it can work if you all agree and we have five tracks that will do it,” he said. “And we’ll put together a sub series and give it a try.”
The format used has heats and B main to set the 24-car grid for the 30-lap main events. This required everyone to run in one of six 10-lap heat races then those not securing a transfer spot would race in one of three 15-lap B main events.
After the driver introductions the field then formed a rolling four-wide salute to the fans before lining up in rows of two for the start.
When the green waved on the A main Gene Kay, from Yerington took off with Randy Artz and the pack giving chase.
After the first of three cautions Zane DeVilbiss, from Arkansas was on Kay’s back bumper when racing resumed. Only a couple of laps later De Vilbiss took over the point and started to leave everyone in his dust.
Within two laps after that DeVilbiss hit a rut and broke what is called a “brake biscuit,” that helps dampen the rear axle’s up and down movements. This meant he had to finish the race with a car that didn’t handle as well as it should have.
Back in the pack, there was the usual amount of wheel-to-wheel racing with a fair amount of pushing and shoving as drivers tried to improve their positions. A second caution on lap 12 slowed the progress and erased the leader’s advantage.
When the green waved again everyone took off and resumed their high-speed duel around the high-banked oval. There was one more caution when a car dropped its drive shaft on the track but that was quickly cleaned up.
In the final laps, Kay slipped back to third giving second place to Ryan Cotrell. When the five top finishers stopped on the front straight DeVilbiss stood on top of his racer and saluted the crowd.
Delighted winner DeVilbiss, who towed in from New Mexico, said, “ It was fun and I caught the leader in the corner.”
Then runner-up Cotrell said, “My car was a little tight in the beginning as I set it up for the end of the race.”
Earlier in the evening there was a delay when the electrical circuit for the Turn 1 lights had to be repaired. After the work was completed racing resumed.
The Gen-X class provided the only support race and Alfred Bishop used a hard, determined drive to score his first victory.
•On Friday night everyone got ready for the next heat races and B main events. This time the track was a little bit different as track officials kept working to improve it from the previous night.
The track crew does what is necessary, which includes grading the surface to make it smoother and putting down water when necessary. Keeping a dirt track ready to race takes a constant effort, especially in a dry climate like Northern Nevada.
Before the night’s racing began Jeff Taylor was given an award for making the longest tow, almost 1,800 miles to compete in the series. Another person making a long tow was Dan Lee from Alberta, Canada.
“I’m from Cave City, Arkansas,” Taylor said. “Entertainment brought me out here, I like it out here and it’s way different from where I’m from. And it took us about 30 hours to get here.”
Once again, driver introductions were handled by announcer Dennis Crook, who took a wireless mike and had each driver give their name and where they were from.
And, once again, the modified field formed into a four-wide formation to salute the fans before starting their main event. When the green waved pole sitter Austin Black jumped into the lead with the pack right after him.
Soon he was being hounded by a couple of cars while Alex Stanford moved into a close fourth place.
After a quick caution on lap 8, the field resumed racing but slowed again twice for two more cautions. That second caution turned into a race-stopping event as several cars piled up on the backstretch.
The melee began when Sparks driver Rich Hill slowed due to a car in the wall only to be hit and spun by someone behind him. Then several piled into the mess including Gene Kay who had no-where to go and could not stop in time.
After some time the officials cleared the mess as they towed the crippled away while the wounded limped to the pits.
One lucky driver was Shawn Natenstedt, who didn’t have a good night Thursday. He had pitted to correct a problem and would have probably been in the middle of the melee had he not.
Right after racing resumed Stanford took to the high line, and after a few laps of side-by-side racing took over the lead. Behind him Black and DeVilbiss disputed second place.
At the checkered, Stanford had a huge lead while Black, DeVilbiss, and Cyan Cotrell took the next three places.
After the dust settled Sanford, who came from Chowchilla, Calif., said, “The car worked really good and I’m glad they didn’t water this thing as it started to lay rubber on entry. That gives you a lot more traction but the problem is that sometimes it turns into a one-lane deal. It was definitely a lot better race track than last night.”
“The race was very exciting,” said runner-up Black, from Mojave Valley, Ariz. “It’s my first time starting a Wild West modified tour or Iron Man main event and it was my first time ever starting on the pole position in this car. I was leading for a while and I really appreciate Alex racing me clean.”
Supporting the IMCA show were the Hobby Stocks, won by Mike Olsen and the 360 Outlaw Sprint Cars whose main was won by Tommy Teeters.
•On Saturday night the tour moved northeast to the Lovelock Speedway for two-day on the clay bowl shaped track.
After driver introductions and the four-wide salute to the crowed the 24-car field took the green flag for their main event. On point was John Sloan but the first lap ended with a short caution then racing resumed.
Up front, Sloan took off with Lovelock local driver J.D. Jurad and Robert Miller, from Gardnerville, in hot pursuit. Finally Miller used the outside groove to take the point and was off and running.
Shortly after that another Lovelock local had problems as Jeff Macedo pulled to a stop on the Turn 3 infield. Later Reno’s Cody Kay, who used a determine drive to make his first main, dropped out with problems.
By now Miller had his hands full fending off DeVilbiss and Rick Spangler as they took off again. But once again another caution slowed the field.
In the final laps, Sanford caught the fleeing Miller and they had a several lap duel to see who was going to hold the point. Behind them Cotrell took third dropping DeVilbiss to fourth ahead of Natenstedt, who was driving a very steady race.
Finally, Sanford took the lead for good and sailed away to the victory while Miller spent the final laps holding off a determined Cotrell.
In the final laps, dust was a huge problem for the drivers exiting Turn 4 as strong winds had dried out the track’s surface.
After being greeted by Miller, now two-time winner Sanford said, “I figured if I was going to make it happen it was going to be on a restart and it worked out for me. The dust was bad enough I didn’t see the checkered flag and it was getting harder and harder to see. I set the car up for slick and was glad at least two lanes cleaned up for a while.”
Sanford and the veteran Miller have known for a long time. In fact Miller commented that Sanford, when he was 16, asked him for advice but not things have reversed.
In the victory ceremony, Miller said with a laugh, “The car did great but the problem was that we had Alex Sanford on the track with us tonight. I’m real happy, as it’s the first whole main event we got to run with the Harris car. We have some things we have got to fine tune but all I could was to hug the bottom.”
On Friday night Hansen commented on how the series was going when he said, “Turnout’s good, it’s actually on the high side of my expectations. Everybody asked, ‘how many cars are you going to get,’ and I guessed between 30 and 40. We were at 38 the first night and 37 the second night and lot of guys are going to pick up series in Lovelock and some in Winnemucca and we actually have a dual points race in Battle Mountain so we’ll have Wild West points and Iron Man Challenge points there.
“I estimate total cars entered across this full series will be well over 100 total. But we’re going to average at each track between 30 to 40-cars and maybe 45.
•Late word from Lovelock Speedway Sunday was that Sanford, who had to come from a B main, led the A main but had to drop out due to over heating with three laps to go. That gave the race to Fernley driver Shawn Natenstedt.
Full results were not available when this story was filed.
Now the Iron Man racers get a night off before heading east and competing in the final six races of the series.
OTHER RACING NEWS
•This weekend there are a couple of two-day shows for race fans.
Starting things off will be the American Valley Speedway in Quincy, Calif. On Friday, at 7 p.m. IMCA Modifieds and Mini Stocks will be there as well as the Jim Richardson 360 Sprint Car Classic, followed on Saturday, at the same time the annual visit of the 360 Sprint Car Civil War series.
Closer to home the Reno-Fernley Raceway, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, hosts another of its NASCAR nights featuring all of its divisions including the Modifieds.
The MRANN series ends its spring races at the Honey Lake Motocross Park up at Milford, California just south of Susanville with the 2nd annual Corey Herring Memorial event.
Saturday starts at 9 a.m. with the Pee Wees and continues through 2 p.m. when the Vintage Bikes get their turn. Sunday’s format features a separate race for all three divisions beginning with the Novice riders at 8:30 a.m. followed by the Experts and Amateurs.
•NASCAR’s Nevada Quartet was busy this weekend in two different places. On Friday night, at Texas Motor Speedway, Brendan Gaughan started 18th and finished 14th in the Camping World Truck event.
On Sunday, at Pocono International Raceway, Kurt Busch started the Sprint Cup event on the pole and finished second while younger brother Kyle started 39th and charged his way to a third place finish. Sparks native T.J. Bell came from 43rd to 39th in his most recent cup race.
IMCA Iron Man Challenge Series
• Rattlesnake Raceway - Thursday, June 9
IMCA Iron Man:
Heat Winners - #1 Zane DeVilbiss, #2 Gene Kay, #3 Ryan Cotrell, #4 Shawn Natenstedt, #5 Jeff Taylor, #6 Dustin Hansen
B Main Winners - #1 Chase Hansen, #2 Darren Manning, #3 Cory Sample
A Main (30-Laps) - #1 Zane DeVilbiss, 2. Ryan Cotrell, #3 Gene Kay, #4 Jeff Taylor, #5 Alex Stanford
Gen-X Support Race - 1. Alfred Bishop, 2. Alex Petit, 3. Kyle Babe, 4. Kevin Reuter
• Rattlesnake Raceway - Friday, June 10
IMCA Iron Man:
Heat Winners - #1 Robert Miller, #2 Zane DeVilbiss, #3 Ryan Cotrell, 4. Alex Stanford, #5 Austin Black , #6 Larry Rogers
B Main Winners - #1 Mark Carrell, #2 Jeff Taylor, #3 Mitch Murphy
A Main (30-Laps) - 1. Alex Stanford, 2. Austin Black, 3. Zane DeVilbiss, 4. Ryan Cotrell, 5. Dustin Hansen
Hobby Stock support main - 1. Mike Olsen, 2. Tony Taylor, 3. Pete Olsen, 4. David Woods
360 Outlaw Sprint support main - 1. Tommy Teeters, 2. Tony Taylor, 3. Larry Olivera, 4. Rusty Baglin
•Lovelock Speedway - Saturday, June 11
Heat Winners - #1 Mark Carrell, #2 Robert Miller, #3 Jeff Elerick Jr., #4 Alex Stanford, #5 Dave Thome, #6 Ryan Cotrell
B Main Winners - #1 Chase Hansen, #2 Jeff Macedo, #3 Randy Artz
A Main (30-Laps) - 1. Alex Stanford, 2. Robert Miller, 3. Ryan Cotrell, 4. Zane DeVilbiss, 5. Shawn Natenstedt
Hobby Stock support main - 1. Roger Donahue, 2. Lance Roberts, 3. David Woods
Dwarf Car support main - 1. Rodney Sweet, 2. Frank Hinds, 3. Bobby Gibson, 4. Cody Gibson
B Mod support main - 1. Lee Ketten, 2. Dickie Souza, 3. Michael Goldsworthy, 4. Damon Tupa, 5. Scott Hammond