Ready to Rage

Off-road racing has always been a big part of the Laughlin event scene. Drivers of heavy duty racing trucks and buggies like the challenge of negotiating hairpin turns and switch-backs over a rugged desert course, daring them to take their skills to the next level — which is why the 2019 McKenzie’s Rage at the River’s season finale is a popular event.
Presented by Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts (SNORE), the event takes place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 13-15 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).
SNORE is an organization that has been a part of desert off-road racing for more than 50 years. Based out of Las Vegas, it was a natural fit for SNORE to fill the Laughlin racing calendar when Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts departed years ago.
The Laughlin course, might be short, but smooth sailing, it is not.
“It’s about a 14-mile course,” said Zach Jorgensen, race director. “Some classes will do up to five laps, some will only do two and some will do four — it all depends if they’re in a sportsman or pro class and what heat they’re in.
“What’s really cool about this course and what makes it challenging is there’s a short-course feel to it, to where there’s a groomed section with jumps for the spectators,” he added. “It’s just like the stuff you’d see on TV, but then there’s stuff the spectators can’t see that’s brings it to the desert — like there’s a section called ‘the moon bumps,’ which is 3-foot nasty holes for a quarter to a half mile long and you gotta go fast through it because you’ve gotta skip across the top of them. So that makes it challenging. There are big drop-off jumps, unfortunately that’s the coolest part of the course, and it’s what the spectators can’t see.”
But when safety is the top priority, it becomes a delicate balance.
“That’s the hard balance for me is that I want the spectators to have fun and see the action but I’m limited in where I can have them,” Jorgensen explained. “I want the racers to have a good time, have a relaxing fun weekend, but we also have to run it like a business because we have so many stipulations with Laughlin properties. My biggest thing is — the BLM is the BLM — it’s how it is. We have rules, we have regulations, we have things that we follow, whether we agree or not, that’s how it is.”
There is still a lot of things to see and experience at the Laughlin course.
“One of the cool things about our races, like Rage at the River here is that in 14 miles, you get to see such a change in terrain, such diverse terrain, and a diverse race course,” Jorgensen said. “Then because it’s the last event, the season finale and end of the points championship, it’s easy to get comfortable. It’s easy to go faster and have a little more fun and it’s closer racing.
“In other races, you go 200, 300, 400 miles and there’s a chance you can only see or pass five or six people the whole race, where this is wheel-to-wheel, door-to-door racing every lap for 14-mile laps — it’s fun,” he added.
Despite Rage at the River being a season-ender, drivers don’t have to qualify to enter the race.
“In some of our classes they qualify, which basically all that is, is setting the starting order for race day,” he explained. “Anybody can enter. It’s open to all, you’ve just gotta have a car and meet the rules.”
Once again, SNORE teams up with a similarly named group MORE (Mojave Off-Road Racing Enthusiasts) to present the race
“Yes, we’re definitely teamed up again,” Jorgensen said. “SNORE is the primary entity, we’ll be doing most of the work, and the permits are under us. MORE helps us do some things, but we’re the host, if you will.”
Spectators will see hundreds of drivers, in some of the most popular of desert off-road race vehicles in the sport today.
“I’m gonna have over 1,000 people in race cars this weekend,” he said. “That’s drivers and co-drivers, and then I’m gonna have about 450 cars, or 425 individual vehicles.
“There’s so many different people who will be racing here, honestly the thing that people will want to see or hear or talk about is gonna be the 1600 class,” he explained. “It’s a single seat or two-seat class, it’s about 70 horsepower, everything is Volkswagen-related, but we’re gonna have 50 of those guys at this race. It’s gonna break a record if 50 actually show up.
“This is a record going back to 1998 or 2002, and they used to have race weekends specifically for these guys and nobody would show up except 1600s and they would get 50 cars. We’re about to get 50 cars just in our one event. The top five in points you could put a blanket over them. So having 50 guys and you finish first or you finish 30th — that could drastically change the points championship.
“Since this is a two-day event, you can’t lay it all out on the line on Saturday and try and win it, because you still have to go out Sunday with equipment that’s not all blown out,” he added. “That’s probably the highlight of the weekend. Then we’ve got the Trophy Trucks in Class 1, that’s at the end of the day, which is obviously what everybody knows and sees on TV. I’m gonna have about 50 unlimited, wide-open, 120-130 mph cars going at the end of the day.”
Prize money is at stake in addition to points champions being celebrated.
“We’re gonna end up giving out $70,000-$90,000 in prize money over the weekend, that’s including class bonuses and other bonuses like the long jump,” Jorgensen said. “So basically if you were to race in the 1600 with 50 cars this coming weekend and you overall it both days, you could probably walk away with a $10,000 check. It’s the highest desert racing payout ever.
“That’s what’s great about SNORE, we give almost everything back to the racers. We just keep enough to keep the permits and all the rest of it goes back to the racers so they can keep racing — and then we can say we give out more money than anybody else and get more races,” he laughed.
The Laughlin Tourism Commission helps sponsor the event and Jorgensen is proud of the mutual respectful relationship between SNORE and the Laughlin resorts.
“When we go and do tech and contingency at the Tropicana, I need all my racers and all the people who work for SNORE with me to be on their best behavior because the Laughlin properties give us so much,” Jorgensen said. “They help us out year in and year out, they give us everything they possibly can, no matter who the management is. The word gets carried on that we do a good job and we bring in a lot of revenue for the area — and I want people to respect them. I’ve raced my entire life, so I understand how these races bring worth, so that’s why I’m good at the position that I’m in.
“I know people are there to race — some are there to have a little fun, party a little bit and some are very serious and are there to race — they don’t think about all the stuff on the backside,” he added. “The properties know we’re not just there to race and leave, we’re there to help the community.”
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. Drivers also have the opportunity to check out the course from a different perspective — by travelling at a slower pace. Racers can sign up on Friday to participate. Then the event consists of two days of heat races on Saturday-Sunday.
There will be parking at the Laughlin Events Park for the whole event and Volunteers In Partnership will be accepting donations of $5 and guiding the spectators to convenient parking. There will be additional parking on Friday night only behind Laughlin High School for a donation of $10 to the athletic department.
For information regarding SNORE, visit SnoreRacing.net. For information on MORE, go to MoreRacing.net.

Schedule of events:

Friday, Dec. 13
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, $40 per car;
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 Laughlin (adjacent to the Pavilion Theater).
1:45 p.m.- 8 p.m. — Tech and Contingency in the rear parking lot of the Tropicana Laughlin 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.
8 p.m. — Drivers’ Meeting in the Edgewater E Center.

Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 14-15
(Race schedule applies for both days; subject to change)

HEAT ONE
Pre Runners (one lap)
600, 1500, 1300, SXS Sport (four laps);
Stock bug (four laps)
6:25 a.m. — Heat One staging
6:50 a.m. — Heat One start
8:16 a.m. — Heat One finish

HEAT TWO
6000, 3000 (five laps);
7s, 9, 5/1600, SXS Turbo, SXS NA (four laps);
Stock Full (four laps)
7:58 a.m. — Heat Two staging
8:22 a.m. — Heat Two start
9:52 a.m. — Heat Two finish

HEAT THREE
1600 (five laps)
1800 (four laps)
9:20 a.m. — Heat Three staging
9:58 a.m. — Heat Three start
11:24 a.m. — Heat Three finish

HEAT FOUR
10, 12, 5U (five laps)
11:15 a.m. — Heat Four staging
11:39 a.m. — Heat Four start
1:09 p.m. — Heat Four finish

HEAT FIVE
1, UT, 6100 (five laps)
450Pro, 7200 (five laps)
12:55 p.m. — Heat Five staging
1:21 p.m. — Heat Five start
2:52 p.m. — Heat Five finish

HEAT SIX
1450, 2000, 4400 (four laps)
HM, 8 (four laps)
2:35 p.m. — Heat Six staging
2:58 p.m. — Heat Six start
4:27 p.m. — Heat Six finish

Sunday Dec. 15
7 p.m. — Awards ceremony at Harrah’s Laughlin.