This year’s Octane Fest set a new standard for the Fallon mainstay even while it struggled to meet the standards of last year. The Churchill County Fairgrounds and the Top Gun and Rattlesnake raceways each saw a visible boost in attendance from Friday onward in light of both new additions to the schedule and the return of a classic such as the Miss Octane Fest competition that took place Thursday night in the Dry Gulch Saloon.
Amy Nygren, named this year’s Miss Octane Fest, was no stranger to pageants since participating in the Miss Teen Pageant at age 13 and the Miss UNR (University of Nevada, Reno) Pageant at 20, but it seems like fate her first win should be returning to her hometown of Fallon.
“I was a little nervous, but I did theater all through high school and even minored when I went to college, so it wasn’t too bad,” Nygren said after winning the crown, sash and $500 prize.
Fans saw Nygren at ever major event throughout the weekend including Friday’s Truck Pull competition. The “Savage Chick” truck driven by Megan took first place in the 4500 class while “T-Reex” took first in the 5500 and the pull of the night at 317.92 feet.
Friday also featured the first monster truck show by “The Felon” driven by Mark Schroeder when the fairgrounds were packed. The Felon’s brief freestyle previewed what fans had to look forward to on Saturday night, but the show wasn’t over before father son duo Randall and Laurence Mitchell went head to head in the demolition derby.
Professional stuntman Josh “The Crusher” Beckel seemed to have the show of the night, however, debuting his exploding car routine for the first time at Octane Fest,. He sat inside a broken down van which was then set ablaze by under a dozen small crates of TnT. Beckel’s encore on Saturday night was not the only reason fans returned to the fairgrounds, but first they’d take in a motorsport show at the Walmart parking lot featuring last minute addition stunt cyclists “Finger Stunts” and “Camo Stunts” performing amazing areal feats on their bikes. When fans weren’t being entertained by Finger and Camo literally standing atop their seats they enjoyed classic and vintage automobiles throughout the lot.
Saturday morning also marked the first official day of the NRHA Desert Heat and NorCal Top Comp at Top Gun Raceway at the same time as the first day of the IMCA Modifieds at Rattlesnake Raceway. Though both the races took place at overlapping times in the day, the love going around was plenty with packed stands at both raceways as well as record attendance at Top Gun according to Track Manager John Stauverman.
Events seemed touch and go at first when the fairgrounds reopened despite a crowd-catching Junior Karts race since only one quad racer arrived for the quad races, but fans hardly seemed deterred by the time the Felon and three other monster trucks hit the dirt. “The Enforcer”, owned by Tony Canedo, returned for its second year at Octane Fest accompanied by “The Airborne Ranger” and “Play for Keeps” trucks which performed high-air jumps, freestyle donuts and timed events. Between the addition of the tough truck competition as well as one last explosive show by the Crusher, Saturday night was the benchmark by which ever other night at Octane Fest measured up to.
Top Gun Raceway Results:
Fourteen drivers competed in six-second 200 mph runs in the NorCal Top Comp, the main event of the weekend at Top Gun Raceway exactly as Stauverman had anticipated.
“The 2016 NHRA and Pacific National Open in conjunction with Top Gun Raceway was a complete success,” Stauverman said. More than 65 junior dragsters and 150 competitors in the Pacific National Open tripled the number of competitors in your best average Top Gun weekend, with attendance up 10-15 percent from last year.
“The weather was phenomenal for racing,” Stauverman said, “a good temperature and ambient temperature which helps with those six-second runs and makes for a good race.”
Saturday: Justin Morgan was the champion of Saturday’s NorCal Top Comp though Melissa “Westerman” Fredrick was the No. 1 qualifier.
In the Junior Drag Racing League the winners were Jessica Boardman (6-9 year old), Madison Gordon (10-12 year old), Damon Bustamante (13-14 year-old), and Myka Lopez (15-17 year old).
Justin Ball won the Junior Competitor class.
For the NHRA Summit ET Series, in addition to being the number one qualifiers, Walt Stacey (sportsman) and Chris Borges (super pro) both won their respective classes, with Joe Janusch winning the Pro class.
Sunday: Wally Jacks split the $2,000 prize with runner up Steve Casner and forewent the final race of Top Comp while Casner’s frequent rival to Westerman who again made No. 1 qualifier and remained ahead on the points list.
“They have that option,” Stauverman said of splitting the pot. “We don’t necessarily agree with it, but I still want them to come back next year for sure,” The split was likely due to the impending weather on sunday, sprinkles throughout the mid-day to early afternoon which Stauverman said made everyone want to be gone before the big rain came.
Michael Hakkent took first in Super Stock/Stock Combo while Glenn Kern won in Super Comp, Tanner Hiatt came out on top in Super Gas, and John Tobias in Super Street. I
n the Jr. Drag Racing League the winners were Emersyn Rose Pires (6-9 year old), Braiden Chesleigh, who was also the No. 1 qualifier for his class(10-12 year old), Cade Poe(13-14 yr old), and Myka Lopez (15-17 yr old).
The Junior Comp champion was AJ Thomas.
For the NHRA Summit ET series, Laurie Pickett(super pro) and Jim Grace(Pro) were the winners. Courtney Morris, No. 1 qualifier for the class, won Sportsman.
“As Top Gun Raceway and the Octane Fest continue to grow throughout the years we will hope for further success and expect an even better turnout next year,” Stauverman said on behalf of Top Gun, adding he and his officials appreciated and enjoyed the newfound collaboration between the Lahontan Auto Racing Association and this year’s Octane Fest. Stauverman also commended the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority for their help in establishing this year’s festival.
“We appreciate all the work and effort it took on their behalf and look forward to working with them next year,” he said of LARA and the tourism board.
Rattlesnake Raceway results were not available at press time.