2001 season gets underway this weekend at Laughlin

LAUGHLIN, Nev. - Getting a major head start on the new year in motorsports, thousands of desert racing fans will join over 200 racers at the increasingly popular 7th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge this weekend, along the banks of the ...

LAUGHLIN, Nev. - Getting a major head start on the new year in motorsports, thousands of desert racing fans will join over 200 racers at the increasingly popular 7th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge this weekend, along the banks of the Colorado river adjacent to the growing Southern Nevada resort destination of Laughlin.

Being held 90 miles south of Las Vegas, the first major motorsports race of the year will be the opening round of the five-race 2001 SCORE Desert Series, America's foremost desert racing series. Racers from across the U.S., Mexico and Japan will launch the new racing season during the unique, four-day SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, which features the $25,000 Laughlin Leap and Pit Crew Showdown.

"The SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge has become one of the premier stops of the SCORE Desert Series," said Sal Fish, CEO of SCORE International, which is based in Los Angeles. "Laughlin offers a number of amenities in the hotel/casino properties for the racers and fans to participate in after the dust has settled for the night. It's a great way for SCORE to start its season each year. Entries have risen appreciably each of the last four years and are on pace to do it again this year."

Unique in format in all of desert racing, the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge kicks off Thursday with the $25,000 Laughlin Leap and Pit Crew Showdown.

The race itself is split into two days of action (Saturday and Sunday) with the 16 classes for desert race cars and exotic race trucks divided into six groups for seven separate races each day. From sunrise to sunset, SCORE desert racers will heat up the abbreviated 13-mile loop desert course in multiple-lap races with time limits of 75 or 85 minutes each. The event finishing order, by class, will be based on the combined two-day elapsed time of each racer.

Interest from racers appears to be at an all time high with entries so far from eight states, Japan and Mexico, including 21 from the Southern Nevada area. A total of 11 class champions from the 2000 SCORE Desert Series have already entered along with nine class winners from last year's SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. Entries will be accepted through the on-site race registration on Friday.

The start/finish line area will be at the Laughlin Events Venue at Big Bend Drive and Bruce Woodbury Way. In front of grandstands, a vendor's village and food court, the stadium-style course will include the Laughlin Leap, switchback turns, mini-jumps and moguls, helping to give spectators the rare opportunity to cheer their favorite racers up-close.

"The SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is a highly anticipated event that brings an action packed weekend of racing and fun to Laughlin," said Bill Keena, General Manager at Harrah's Laughlin and local chairman of the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. "Swirling dust, high energy and fast action will fill the days at the Laughlin Event Site, while the evening will be filled with great entertainment, spectator parties and endless gaming opportunities at the Laughlin resort properties."

On Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., fans can meet and greet their favorite racers and check out their high-tech racing machines throughout the day at the manufacturer's midway and technical inspection held in the start/finish line area.

Race weekend festivities will once again start with the extremely popular $25,000 Laughlin Leap and Pit Crew showdown on Thursday. Starting with the Pit Crew battle at 5 p.m. at the Laughlin Events Venue Stadium followed be the bodacious Laughlin Leap, drivers and crews will test their own skills and the quality of their race vehicles. Participants will attempt to beat the existing record, both set last year. The fastest pit stop last year was recorded by the crew of Dale Ebberts, Canyon Lake, Calif., in a record 44.96 seconds. The longest Laughlin Leap was recorded by Tim Herbst of Las Vegas, whose Ford F-150 Trophy-Truck went airborne for a distance of 103 feet.

Leading the stars of desert racing set to compete in the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge will be the Terrible Herbst Motorsports team of Las Vegas brothers Ed, Tim and Troy Herbst. Tim and Ed Herbst's second consecutive victory in a Ford F-150 last year in Laughlin, began what ended as a second straight season championship in the featured Trophy-Truck division of SCORE Desert Series. Troy Herbst, who drives a Ford-powered Smithbuilt open-wheel desert race car, was second the unlimited Class 1 in Laughlin last year to start his march to an unprecedented fourth consecutive SCORE Class 1 season championship and second overall SCORE point crown in the last three years. The other defending Laughlin class champions entered so far are: Dale Ebberts, Canyon Lake, Calif. (Class 1-2/1600-Chenowth); George Seeley Jr., Glendale, Calif. (Class 5-VW Baja Bug); Dave Gasper, Chino Hills, Calif. (Class 5/1600-VW Baja Bug); Brian Collins, Las Vegas (Class 8-Chevy C1500); Forest Creasy, Sacramento, Calif. (Class 9-Suspensions Unlimited), Danny Anderson, Las Vegas (Class 10-Jimco); Dr. Macrae Glass, Kingman, Ariz. (Stock Mini-Ford Ranger and Manny Esquerra, Parker, Ariz. (Stock Full-Ford F-150). All returning winners will be racing in the same class, except Collins, who has moved from Class 8 to the featured Trophy-Truck division.

General Admission tickets for grandstand seats in the Laughlin Special Events Site will be $10 each for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. By mandate of the Bureau of Land Management, the start/finish line area is the only "designated" spectator area on the course.

The 7th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge is sponsored by the Laughlin Tourism Committee and the Laughlin Visitors Bureau, a division of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The race is sanctioned and produced by SCORE International of Los Angeles.

-SCORE

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Drivers Tim Herbst , Troy Herbst