posted on September 29, 2009 20:16
Summer Road Trip- Silver State Classic Part 1
By Mike Kojima and Annie Sam
The end of summer usually means two things; one, it’s the end of summer and two, it’s time for a road trip. The MotoIQ staff usual tries to have a least one epic road trip automotive adventure during the summer months and this year it was a trip to the country’s greatest open road race, the Silver State Classic in Nevada. The Silver State is a must do for any automotive freak; it’s a 100 mile all out road race across closed highway in Nevada.
This seemingly impossible event in litigation-prone America is run by the SSCC, the sanctioning body behind several different legal unlimited speed events in Nevada and Mexico. The race is run on a 90 mile stretch of Nevada 318 between the towns of Lund and Hiko. Highway 318 features 14 mile straightaways and a curvy section of road through a canyon referred to as the Narrows.
The record for this run is a hairy average speed of 207.8 mph set in 2000 by Chuck Shafer in a tube framed Chrysler LeBaron, of all things. The highest instantaneous speed is 227 mph set by Rick Doria in a highly modified Corvette. Speeds this high in a production based car with questionable aerodynamics is pretty damn ballsy. These speeds can be pretty dangerous, a few people have pushed the limit in this event and have never returned. Even well equipped teams like the The JUN built Option Magazine 350Z crashed at 217 mph.
The race can be run for unlimited speed or in 5 mph brackets from 180 mph to 95 mph. The object of the bracket classes is to stay as close to the bracket speed as possible. Other events held over the 4 days of the event are the Z1Z Speed Stop Challenge which is a Zero to 100 mph to Zero event, the One Mile Speed Shootout and the Half Mile Speed Shootout for top speed in the flying mile and half mile. Somewhere in between all of this stuff there is a car show and a parade through the town of Ely Nevada.
Team MotoIQ picked the Bonneville proven Turbo SR20 powered Nissan B12 Sentra owned by Chuck Johnson form our palatial garage as our vehicle of choice for this event. You can read about Chuck’s other adventures with this car here and here. The 1988 Sentra is a family heirloom in the Johnson household and the car is built well for high speed events and has been proven at 160 mph at Bonneville. With Chuck driving and Project Racer Columnists Annie Sam as Navigator, I was relegated to tow truck driver, an important role considering that since the race is a one way deal, someone had to pick up Chuck, Annie and the Racecar.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 7:24 AM
May I suggest the Big Bend Open Road Race for next spring's road trip?
120 miles total, broken down into 60 mile stages. Sanderson, Tx to Fort Stockton, Texas and back. Its pretty much this event, except in west Texas going down US 285.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:54 AM
Only fair to mention the JUN car had a front flat fire and the driver did an incredible job of bleeding speed from 320 kph down to about 200 before exiting the road and rolling it umpteen times. Plus he walked away, and if you've seen what was left of the inside of the car, holy sh*t!
Chuck that is one nice B12, saw the coverage when it ran at BV...although now it seems somehow "prettier"...graphics maybe?
Man I wish I could have run my Z33 there, bone stock best I ever saw was 142 on the digital dash...I'm sure it had another 10 in there.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:34 PM
This has about 1:30 more coverage on the JUN 350Z. Very similar but some more content. IDK how to do links here so here's the URL:
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:08 PM
I think Dai did some serious driver error, forcing the downshifts that caused the car to destabilize.
I would have rolled the throttle and just let the car bleed off speed aerodynamically. I have been in a car suffered a blown tire while testing at over 150 mph in a banked corner with the chassis loaded and the driver didn't have that much of a problem slowing.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:50 PM
In 1999 I did the Big Bend race in Texas, in a GMC Typhoon. 120 mph class. Teched at 165. Hit a max speed of 150 mph in the brick. 59 miles one way. Stop, eat lunch. 59 miles back. We won our class.
We averaged 120 mph in the brick pretty easily. It was a fun time. Fly to Colorado, prep the truck, drive to Texas, do the race, drive back to Colorado.
Open road racing is just nutty when you are standing there. On this highway, looking off into the distance. Watching these cars accelerate off into the distance. Very surreal.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:14 PM
Mike, good point I never really thought about. I thought in a RWD car downshifting would shift weight to the rear, off the front flatted tire, since things tend to go in the same direction unless something makes them go somewhere else. I can see in my SE-R I'd have no choice but to relax, hold it straight and let its sexy box-like shape bleed off its stupendous speed :)
I thought Dai was doing pretty much all he could since braking was out of the question and he no longer had steering control, about the only thing left was to throw out a boat anchor. But only front flats I ever had I just rode them out w/o shifting because I was going 70 or less. I just eased off the throttle and let it ride.
I am still amazed after rolling that many times and given the interior was not totally intact that he walked away from it with IIRC back injuries but nothing too serious. The again, if he missed rocks, the desert can be a pretty forgiving place to crash compared to forest, etc. Well, if you're not on a Mtn Bike anyway...
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:30 PM
Phew. Finally got to sit down and read the entire article. Great coverage and nice shots of the Narrows. Last time I drove through Ely was in 1985 in a Ford Bronco II (my fiancee later wife, don't blame me!). Does not seem to have changed much other than being infested with Vettes.
Thanks for a good story :)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:42 PM
I went over the Go Go Daijiro video about 20 times and I would have to agree.
After Dai's crash, they went back again with another 350Z that Jun prepped yet again with some additional safety features. Dai made it to the end and never really topped the car due to driver error but the tire did blow a cord as well. If Dai had gone full out with that new 350Z, I believe it would have just been another repeat with a potentially worse outcome this time around.
Consequently, it was the front wheels that keep running into the tire blowing situation. I was thinking maybe it was something with the early 350Z inner wheel wear due to the camber issue that was common on the early stock 350Z's. This was so much of an issue that Nissan offered up replacement tires to make up for the design error. Is it just coincidence? I couldn't see how Jun wouldn't catch something like this but then again this was still in the early years of the 350Z when the accident happened at the Silver State Classic.
I would love to see Go Go attempt it a third time, if he hasn't already.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 3:56 PM
If you have actually seen the course, its pretty dangerous, its a soft shoulder that drops away rapidly about 10 feet to the desert floor thats littered with big rocks.
In the narrows you go off and go right into a rock field, some of the rocks are as big as a car and you can slam into the rock cliffs that are in some places less than 100 feet away from the outside of a turn.
Its serious stuff and several people have died doing the event. A lot of people run with their wife or girlfriend as navigator. Personally I would only do it with a fellow racer who understands the risks and what could happen to you.
This is serious shit
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:19 PM
Yes it is serious. People die every few years. The guy that was in front of us, when we ran died a few years later running the event. Its a pretty sobering thought.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:52 PM
This is an awesome article. Mike, I didn't even know you went. Let's all go next year. I am trying to get Cosworth to bring the Red Dragon next year. You should talk to Ken about doing a build article so I/we have an excuse to go play next year.
I had dinner with Dai last year and I asked him, "Man, how did did it feel during that crash?" He said (translated by my buddy Toshi), "I've driven cars at high speed that have exploded, crashed, and even flew off the road, but I seriously thought I was going to die that time. I was scared. Thank god JUN built a really good car."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:37 PM
I am totally down, lets do a Team MotoIQ multi car assault. Chucks car would have easily placed a lot higher had the experimental clutch (fiber tough puck disc) had worked. The SR tranny is so shitty that we were trying to develop a clutch that could hold the power yet cushion the gears. It was ok in testing at SOW but for some reason slipped like a bitch once we were at the event. It seemed to stabilize but it ruined the outcome of several events that the Sentra would have ruled.
Bring out the red dragon and I'll bring the Dog III or my EVO or something! We could do really well, hell a Stock GT-R or GT3 with a cage could do really well. We need to plan and do some logistical support. The XS GT-R would win the acceleration and braking events easily, except maybe not in unlimited. It has to do 200 mph flat out for 90 miles. Well if some of those F-Bodies could we could do it but it would require some development and maybe someone crazy like Tarzan to drive.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 12:45 AM
The Lincoln and the Corvair both made an appearance at Big Bend Open Road Race this year too.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:16 AM
Igors R34 is still sitting in a container at RB. It has a sequential , 580 whp, and ABS. It should get up and go 1/2 way decent. I wonder if we can convince Igor to run it or let us borrow it.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:36 AM
Just borrow it, and the rig, we can put all the cars in it and get Victor to drop us all off and pick us up at the finish line.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 5:54 AM
Sounds good. I will Victor and Igor know they have been volunteered...ha ha ha.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:02 PM
Igor's rig would be perfect Sean. Let's roll.
I'm pretty confident the XS GT-R at lower boost (1.6 bar) around around 750whp can do 91 miles no problem. I'm not sure if Tarzan is crazy enough to do it, but I could ask Dai if he's down. He's pretty psycho like that. Maybe he'll turn it into a Option Video segment too. There's only one thing missing: MONEY.
Friday, September 25, 2009 7:05 PM
Dunno Dai might wreck your car. I think he F----- up when he crashed. I think that was largly driver error. I think he should have just aero bled the speed off.
Tarzan is nutty, I think he would do it. The trick is to only try to do 200 mph in the speed trap in the end.
Thursday, October 15, 2009 6:32 AM
trust me mike iwish i was their to gain some hands on experience on what is going on.