HDRA Sets a New Benchmark for Off-road Events.

In this world of information overload, it’s rare when the
final product lives up to the hype. Looking back at the HDRA, Eldorado,
Fireworks 500 race in Reno, Nevada the event delivered much more than promised.

The pre-race activities on Virginia Street which included the Fueled by Monster
Energy freestyle motocross and Ninja stunt team show with live DJ, the Great
American barbecue festival, the car show atmosphere and the live bands were an enormous
hit with everyone in attendance. First time visitors to the Reno area were
treated to countless recreational opportunities including fishing, hiking,
fireworks, gambling and dining that surpassed expectations.

For the racers it was something new entirely. Typically
people ask, “What was the course like?” which creates a dilemma due to the fact
that the track may have set a new benchmark when it comes to rating courses. From
this point on people will not compare this course to others, others will be
compared to it.  Ingeniously laid out, it
meandered across the hills and through countless canyons in a cloverleaf shape,
so spectators had numerous views of cars racing on various loops at the same
time. It also set a new standard for ultimate challenges. People often talk of
the rock garden on the mint 400 course or the rough sections found in Barstow,
California but those are only sections of the course.

The Fireworks 500 was described by overall race winner Mike
Mitchell as having “never-ending rocks.” He unofficially renamed the race the
“Bone-crusher 500” but also threw out a challenge to anyone that thinks they
are fast to come run this race. Drivers had to push to stay out front but any
mistake could potentially end their day. Open Truck winner James Horvath added,
“We proved if you take care of the equipment in a long tough race like this
your chances for a great finish goes way up. We held a fast, steady pace
without any mistakes. That was the key to our victory.” Class 10 winner Greg
Parker had more of the same to say. “That has to be the most physically and
mentally demanding course ever. We were racing the course not the other teams.
It would have been hard to do two laps without a break. We pitted more than we
had planned but our crew of friends, family members and volunteers worked like
a fine watch. It was extremely challenging but I loved it!”

The Wide Open Baja cars had an incredible field of
competitors. Rally driver and TV personality Andrew Comrie-Picard, who has many
race wins to his credit, was driving Wide Open car 004. The WO-002 and WO-003
cars were loaded with Monster Energy athletes and executives. The teams were
organized to pit drivers from the United States would battle against the
International stars. Representing the USA were Jake Brown (Mega-Ramp), Makua
Rothman (Surf), Jason Britton, (Stunt Bike) and Sam Pontrelli, VP of Marketing.
The International team headed by Andre Villa (FMX, Spain) included Alain
Escobedo (GP Bike, Mexico), Jose “Pajaro” Luis Perez (Enduro Cross, Mexico),Chris
Miereles Suazo (BMX, Mexico) and Sports Mktg. Mgr. of Mexico, Mariano Castelao.
Comrie-Picard had the most dirt racing experience out of the field making him
the odds-on favorite. After a tough race though, it was the International team
who came out on top; Comrie-Picard in second and the US team rounding out the

For those of you who are well versed in off-road racing’s
history, the HDRA Fireworks race of years past had a reputation for being extremely
hot and tough as hell. The temperatures might not have been as intemperate as
they were back then but the course surpasses anything anyone had experienced.  The Fireworks 500 also set records for huge
payouts to the winners. Overall winner Mike Mitchell took prize money and
several cash bonuses from the many sponsors who supported this race in the sum
of $21,625 not including contingency money and product. Monte Tibbitts in Heavy
Metal, a class that does not usually get a lot of love, took home first place
prize money and a $2,000 bonus from Monster Energy for being the “Most
Dominating” driver. The cash goes a long way for any team but the bragging
rights are priceless. Whether they vowed to do better next year or couldn’t
wait to defend their title earned in this year’s race, drivers and crews are
anxious to take another crack at the new HDRA, Fireworks 500.

HDRA’s next race on the schedule takes in the nightlife in
Primm, Nevada August 24-26. Night racing brings its own set of challenges for
the drivers and crews. The Dusk ‘til Dawn 300 will take place on a 50 mile
course allowing drivers to open it up after dark. HDRA, the sanctioning body By
Racers, For Racers continues to deliver the challenging courses, unique events,
team exposure and prize money that makes racing meaningful. Come out to Primm
and join us!


About the Author

Mike Ingalsbee is an automotive writer and photographer who has covered just about everything that burns fuel or throws dirt for two decades. He has been published in over twenty magazine titles and websites in North America, Europe and Australia. He has worked as a design engineer for several manufacturers in the automotive aftermarket and is a founding member of the Association of Motorsports Media Professionals, (AMMP), a trade organization that is involved in land use concerns and consults with sanctioning bodies on safety and media issues.

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