Nevada Open Road Challenge
1990 928 S4

May 14-16, 2011

Open Road Rally
Ely, Nevada

My car finally completed an Open Road Race (ORR) after 4 years of effort. Some may remember the incident in the 2007 Bonneville 100. Two engines, one transmission, numerous upgrades and after 5 attempts, I finished 3rd in the Nevada Open Road Challenge (NORC) 160 mph class. Granted there were only 4 cars entered in the class, and one didn't start, but I did finish.

My car next to the tuning road.

Bill and I drove up Thrusday and used Friday to Sharktune the car at altitude. We got the WOT map working well so we decided to register and tech on Saturday. Friday night Bill started feeling ill and said he needed to go home. I had driven the road before and had soloed last September, so it wouldn't impact me running the event, but would change my strategy on how to run the race. On Saturday I registered and Bill helped tech and prep the car for Sunday, before he drove back to the Bay Area.

The car at the Saturday Car Show

We also met Joe and Jim at the car show. They had entered Joe's 93 GTS in the 110 mph class. This was Joe's first ORR event, and they seemed to be excited about the prospect of running down the road at 110 mph average with a max of 124.

Joe and Jim doing their Stig impression.

Sunday was a windy clear day. The temps were in the high 50s to low 60s, but the winds were 20-40 mph from the south (headwind) with gusts up to 60 mph. The Super Sport cars run after the other cars had completed their runs, so we started our runs around 11 AM. Tim and Cheryl were grid two cars ahead of me. They were also running the 160 class and had a good run dispite the wind.

The Beast at the starting grid

I was the scheduled to be the last car off the starting line, but a Nissan GTR had made an emergency run to town to repair a tire, and they allowed him to regrid after me. I had arranged to get race gas at the starting grid, but the Lance (the gas guy) is also the tire guy so he had gone off with the GTR to perform the repair. So I was stuck with a half tank of gas and the prospect of running out halfway through the course. Luckily I had brought 5 gallons of gas with me that another support vehicle was going to deliver to me at the end of the course to allow me to get to the nearest gas station after the race. Tim also graceously offered 5 gallons of race gas he had in his trailer as well as another driver (unlimited cup car) offered another gallon of aviation fuel. Quite a mix to run a race with...

My car parked next to the gas truck waiting.

As I lined up at the starting line, the car in front of me was pulled out of line because of fuel leak. This was one of the original 69 Ford GT40s. They decided it was bad enough not to let him run. Which is a real shame as he had come all the way from Texas for this event. Anyway I moved up one spot and left the start around 11:40. The car started well and I ran up to 160 mph. Everything look good. The wind was pretty strong, but the car seemed to handle it well until I got over 170 mph. I was primarily interested in finishing the race so I decided to just cruise in the 165-170 mph range. After a while I noticed that the AFR was in the 15:1 range, not good! I was off WOT and in the cruise map. I pressed the accelerator and watched the AFR go back into the 12s, then slowly creep into the 13s. We had richened up the transition setting because we had noticed it would go lean on initial acceleration, before settling at our tuned AFR. The acceleration enrichment worked great, but the WOT tuning was a little too lean and the cruise map was way too lean. Must have been the cold air along with the stiff headwind put me in a different part of the fuel map then the one we had tuned. Also we hadn't done much with the cruise map, so it was way off. Anyway, I was stuck going on and off the accelerator the whole race trying to keep the LH in the acceleration enrichment phase, just to keep AFR in a safe range. Hey track cars do this just running a race. With the wind conditions being what they were, I didn't do a top speed run at the speed trap. I basically focused on getting to the finish line in one piece. There was a dust storm about 3 miles from the finish. I slowed down while I tried to figure out what it was. At first I thought a car had gone off and caught fire, but once I figured it out, I continued down the road.

View of the dust cloud.

As I neared the finish line, I decided to make one last burst of speed. I got the car up to 186 mph as I crossed the line. My time for the 90 mile run was 34 minutes 23.4461 seconds. 38 seconds off pace (157.0189 mph avg), but I finished and got 3rd to boot.

My car at the finish.

And another photo as it snowed in the motel parking lot when I got back to Ely that afternoon
Maybe one of those snow storms in hell type of thing...

Anyway thanks to Bill for all his help getting the car ready, and to Tim and Cheryl for their help at the event. And congratulations to Tim and Cheryl for their 2nd place in 160 and Joe and Jim for completing their first race.

Class	Driver/Nav	Avg Speed	Place	Trap Speed

110	Joe/Jim		109.8880	9th	121.2 mph
160	Tim/Cheryl	159.2761	2nd	196.3 mph
160	George		157.0189	3rd	170.4 mph

Short Video of the wind storm(26 sec, 2.45mb):

Another video of the finish(35 sec,3 mb):

Complete Results

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Copyright 2011, George A Suennen