by Dominic Clark
PRIMM, Nev. -- While the Herbst, MacCachren, Gaughan and Collins names are the most recognizable among Southern Nevada desert racers, nearly two dozen talented locals are all hoping to enjoy the benefits of racing on their home-desert as part of a record field for this weekend’s 9th Annual SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300. Round 4 of the five-race 2004 SCORE Desert Series will be held Saturday in Primm, Nev., 35 miles south of Las Vegas.
The 9th Annual SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300 will include an event-record field of over 180 vehicles competing in 17 Pro and 2 Sportsman classes for cars and trucks. As of Monday, a record 183 vehicles have entered and late entries will be accepted up until race day. All race-records, Class 1-2/1600 tops the field with a race-high 39 entries, followed by Class 1 (34), SCORE Trophy-Truck and Class 10 (22 each) and SCORE Lite (17).
The 325.6-mile race will be run as a five-lap race over a desert course of 65.1 miles. For the third straight year, the race has been split into two groups with the open wheel and VW baja bug classes starting at 6 a.m. The truck classes, including the featured SCORE Trophy-Truck division along with the unlimited Class 1 open-wheel class, will start at 1 p.m. One vehicle will start every 30 seconds in the elapsed-time race, with an 8-hour time limit.
The start/finish line area, the primary spectator area and main pits will be located in the special events compound behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort in Primm. The slower classes will run three or four laps. Admission will be free to the spectator area, which will have grandstands as well as the SCORE Vendor’s Village.
Pre-race festivities on Friday, including tech and contingency and the SCORE Manufacturer’s Midway, will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort. The post-race awards celebration will be held at the Star of the Desert Arena on Sunday at 9 a.m.
Celebrating its 31st anniversary this year as the World’s Foremost Desert Racing Series, the SCORE Desert Series is back in Southern Nevada for the last of its two U.S. races this season. The season started in Laughlin.
And while all of the 21 Southern Nevada racers entered so far are capable of a podium finish in their respective classes, none are more likely to pull out gold medal finishes than the three Herbst brothers and Rob MacCachren, all of Las Vegas. Knocking on the door of victory lane could well be fellow local second-generation racers John Gaughan and Brian Collins.
With 12 of 16 of last year’s class winners in this race (two have switched classes) along with all of the top 10 overall finishers in the starting grid, local racers will have to contend with many of the world’s top desert racers, including 47 who have combined for 64 class wins in the first eight years of this increasingly popular event.
With a star-studded entry field, Las Vegas’ Ed Herbst, 43, and Tim Herbst, 41, with four SCORE season point titles, are part of the race-record 22 entries in the marquee SCORE Trophy-Truck division in their No. 1 Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150. The youngest of the three racing Herbst brothers, Troy Herbst, 38, is a six-time SCORE season champ in the powerful unlimited Class 1, and he will be driving his team’s No. 128 Smithbuilt-Ford open-wheel desert race car Saturday.
“I have to admit that there is an advantage for those of us who grew up in the desert around Primm,” said Ed Herbst, President of the Terrible Herbst business group. “But, given the ruggedness of the terrain and the quality of the competition, I would also say that after the first lap, everybody who has survived it is capable of winning. From the Terrible Herbst Motorsports perspective, it does give us more confidence that we know where we’re going.”
Between them, Ed and Tim Herbst have won SCORE Trophy-Truck three times in Primm, including the last two years, while Troy Herbst has garnered the Class 1 title twice (1999, 2001). The Herbst brothers have combined to win half (four) of the first eight overall victories in Primm, twice by Ed and Tim (1998 and 2003) and both of Troy’s Class 1 wins also earned him the overall wins.
The Herbst brothers, who with father Jerry Herbst, oversee the huge Terrible Herbst business conglomerate that includes gaming, car washes, convenience stores and an oil company, have emerged into the top non-factory team in the sport.
MacCachren, 39, who became Nevada’s first and only AAWRBA All-America motorsport team selection in 2001, has earned seven SCORE season point crowns in five different classes.
MacCachren, one of a very few full-time professional desert racers, is racing in three desert series this year. On Saturday, he’ll be the busiest driver in the desert. He’ll be the driver of record in Class 1-2/1600 and a co-driver for two other vehicles. He will split driving time in SCORE Trophy-Truck with Mexico’s Gus Vildosola in the No. 4 Vildosola Racing Ford F-150 in the afternoon section of the race. In the morning, he is also listed as a co-driver for Las Vegas’ Danny Anderson, who will be driving another Fraley-VW in Class 1-2/1600 (No. 1608) in addition to driving his own No. 1630 Fraley-VW.
Gaughan, 38-year old son of casino mogul Michael Gaughan and older brother of NASCAR regular Brendan Gaughan, is one of seven Southern Nevada entries in Class 1, where he and long-time teammate B.J. Richardson will drive the No. 122 Bunderson-Chevy.
Collins, 41, a local developer, splits driving with legendary Larry Ragland of Phoenix, in SCORE Trophy-Truck in the Collins Motorsports No. 12 Chevy Silverado.
Collins Motorsports may end up being the busiest local team in the desert Saturday, providing pit support crews for four local teams in the afternoon portion of the race. Besides the No. 12 SCORE Trophy-Truck, Collins Motorsports will also be working with the No. 97 Ford F-150 of B.J. Baldwin, 25 of Las Vegas, and the No. 80 Chevy Silverado of Phoenix’ Chad Ragland, 33 year-old son of Larry Ragland. In the Class 1, Collins Motorsports will be assisting the No. 109 Porter Ford of Bobby Baldwin (B.J.’s father, 53, who is the president of the Bellagio Resort.
Among the other locals racing in Class 1 will be veteran Pat Dean, 36, in the No. 133 Chenowth-Chevy. Las Vegas teammates Kory Scheeler, 42, and Larry Job, 44, will split time in two Class 1 cars, the No. 111 Jimco-Chevy and the No. 112 Porter-Chevy.
Besides the two MacCachren entries, there are seven total locals in Class 1-2/1600, including third-generation desert racer Cody Freeman, 18, who will race with his father Kenny Freeman Jr., in the No. 1648 Porter-VW.
Making her SCORE racing debut will Day Gang, 24, of Henderson, Nev., in Class 1-2/1600 in the No. 1605 Jimco-VW with Mike Malloy, 25, also of Henderson. Gang, and her aunt, Bekki Wik, are the only two females drivers scheduled to compete in the race.
Wik, 30, of Las Vegas, is a two-time Class 1-2/1600 SCORE point champion and will be co-driving this year for Rick Wilson, Long Beach, Calif., in the unlimited Class 1, No. 101 Jimco-Chevy.
Mark Hutchinson, 49, and his son C.J., 19, of Henderson, are currently the SCORE Class 10 point leaders in their No. 1005 Jimco-Honda.
In a sport where there is no qualifying or open pre-running (in the U.S.), the computerized drawing for start positions held last month, has added significance. Honolulu’s Alan Pflueger, 38, will be the first starter in the afternoon portion in his No. 28 Pflueger Racing Chevy Silverado.
In the morning portion, Mexico’s Lobsam Yee, Tijuana, will be the first vehicle off the line in his Class 10, No. 1001 Yee Racing Jimco-Honda.
In SCORE Trophy-Truck lineup, MacCachren will start second behind Pflueger, B.J. Baldwin will start fourth, Ed and Tim Herbst will be the sixth to leave the line and Collins/Ragland have drawn the 16th starting slot in the class of 22 monsters of the desert.
With the $10,000 Kartek bonus also awaiting the 2004 SCORE Overall point champion, a total of just 61 points separate the top 15 overall point leaders after the first three rounds of 2004.
SCORE official sponsors for 2004 are: BFGoodrich Tires-official tire, Southern California Ford Dealers-official vehicle and C.L. Bryant-VP Racing Fuels-official fuel supplier. Associate sponsors are: Tecate Beer, Coca-Cola of Mexico, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, Herbst Gaming, Kartek Off-Road, Fram, Autolite, Prestone, Bilstein, Signpros, P.C.I. Race Radios, McKenzie’s, and Advanced Color Graphics.
Associate sponsors for the 9th SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300 are Las Vegas Events in association with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Primm Valley Resorts.
For more information, contact SCORE at its Los Angeles headquarters 818.225.8402 or visit the official website of the 2004 SCORE Desert Series at www.score-international.com.
SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300
All-Time Overall Winners
1996--Robby Gordon, Orange, Calif., Ford F-150 (SCORE Trophy-Truck)
1997--Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif., Jeep Grand Cherokee (SCORE Trophy-Truck)
1998--Ed Herbst/Tim Herbst, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (SCORE Trophy-Truck)
1999--Troy Herbst, Las Vegas, Smithbuilt-Ford (Class 1)
2000--Steve Sourapas, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Jimco-Chevy (Class 1)
2001--Troy Herbst, Las Vegas, Smithbuilt-Ford (Class 1)
2002--Mike Julson, Santee, Calif./Bob Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., Jimco-Chevy (Class 1)
2003--Tim Herbst/Ed Herbst, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (SCORE Trophy-Truck)
SCORE Las Vegas Primm 300
Multiple Class Champions
Total--Driver of Record, Years
6--George Seeley Jr.--1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003
5--Eric Solorzano--1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003
4--Darren Skilton--1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
3--Danny Anderson--1997, 1999, 2003
Ed Herbst--1998, 2002, 2003
Tim Herbst--1998, 2003, 2003
Craig Turner--1998, 2000, 2001
2--Victor Barajas--1996, 1997
Steve Barlow--1997, 1998
Cisco Bio--2000, 2001
Mark Bunderson--1996, 1999
Brian Collins--1997, 1999
Eric Fisher--2002, 2003
John Griffin--2002, 2003
Troy Herbst--1999, 2001
Kory Halopoff---2001, 2002
Mike Julson--1997, 2002
Bob Land--1998, 2001
Rob MacCachren--1997, 2001
Steve Olliges--1996, 1997
Alan Pflueger—2002, 2003
Larry Roeseler--1997, 1999
Dan Smith--1996, 2001
Marc Stein--1999, 2001
Scott Steinberger--1996, 2001
Cory Susag--1999, 2001
Dave Sykes--1998, 2003