By KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
This weekend, Ely will be busier than usual as racing participants, navigators and volunteers from across the United States, Canada, New Mexico, Norway descend upon Ely, Nevada to fulfill their need for speed.
Four days of festivities begin bright and early Thursday morning as first-time participants head to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for qualifying school. Following a Press Luncheon at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas the caravan of cars will head to Ely for a variety of activities.
There are two small racing events that take place during the weekend on SR 490 that lead up to the main event on Sunday on the “Silver State Classic Challenge Highway” aka Hwy. 318. On Friday drivers can test the speed of their cars in the Half Mile Shootout or High Noon One Mile Shootout.
Participants gather at the White Pine High School parking lot to line up for the Parade of Cars that begins at 5:30pm. This gives the young boys and girls of Ely a chance to ride in a racing car. A welcome Reception hosted by the Silver State Classic Challenge Inc. awaits the participants and their crews that evening, immediately following the parade at the Bristlecone Convention Center.
Cars will be on display, and you can meet the drivers, during the Car Show at Broadbent Park on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Ely Lions Club will sponsor a Pancake Breakfast as well.
The main event on Sunday will have participants speeding down a 90-mile stretch of Hwy. 318 between Lund and Hiko, which is officially closed to the public. There is a speed class for everyone, ranging in 5-mile an hour increments between 95 and 150mph, plus the 160, 170, 180 mph classes and the Unlimited for a total of 16 different speed brackets.
In May, 2000, Chuck Shafer and Gary Bockman achieved an average speed of 207.78 mph and became the first to establish the “Highest Speed on a Public Highway” and the SSCC becoming the “World’s Fastest Road Race” in the Guinness World Book of Records.
For 12 years the record remained, until May 20, 2012, when Jim Peruto averaged 217.7750 mph driving a modified 2006 Dodge Charger and became the new record holder.
The only way to watch these events is to become a Course Worker, must be age 18 and over, as there are no spectator areas. Manning the gates along Hwy. 318 is the biggest volunteer effort in making these events a success.
The Silver State Classic Challenge is a nonprofit corporation that was created to promote tourism through open road events and support the communities of the rural counties. The events are held two times a year, every May and September.