Octane Fest a big success once again
GIFs by Mike Higdon
The roars of the engines rattled throughout the area this weekend as the eighth annual Octane Fest hit the tracks and arenas.
WGAS Motorsports returned as the host of the two-day monster truck jamboree at the Churchill County Fairgrounds.
The event featured the high-flying acts of motocross, a display from the Northern Nevada Outlaw Karts series, a bevy of monster trucks crushing cars and performing tricks and capped with the Jet Dragster burning down a car.
In addition to the shows, drag racing was on full display at Top Gun Raceway with the NHRA Desert Heat series, while Rattlesnake Raceway hosted the karts, IMCA Modifieds along with a points race.
“Octane Fest as a whole was successful,” Gray said. “We did a pretty good job of getting monster trucks out in the community before the show.”
The two-day show at the fairgrounds, meanwhile, saw attendance dip on Friday, Gray said. Friday’s show was at about half capacity, while Saturday’s event was sold out.
Gray said he hasn’t determined the reason for Friday’s lackluster attendance, even with access to the pit and monster truck rides.
Nevertheless, Gray said Octane Fest, overall, was a success as attendance at Top Gun Raceway exceeded more than 500 for the NHRA Funny Car’s along with the full slate of drag racing over the weekend.
“I think they benefit being in the marketing and averstising,” Gray said of the raceways. “That is the purpose of Octane Fest, to grow exposure for the drag strip and dirt track (Rattlesnake).”
A positive for Gray and the show, however, was the draw from out-of-town visitors from cities such as Reno and Carson City. Gray put on an aggressive advertising campaign with TV and radio spots in addition to newspapers and other avenues.
He said advance ticket sales were down, but spectators had the opportunity to buy tickets the day of the show from the event’s main sponsor, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.
“We did a live radio spot at O’Reilly’s and was very, very popular,” Gray said. “It’s great to have a partner like O’Reilly’s.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge this year was the rain. Earlier in the week, Fallon was belted by two rain storms, which muddied the arena at the fairgrounds.
WGAS and A & K Earth Movers, though, worked for several days to get the grounds ready to handle the massive vehicles and machinery necessary to put on the show.
In an ironic twist, Gray said he was told by one spectator there may have been too much water for the mud drags on Saturday as several engines were flooded during the event.
“Getting the rodeo arena ready for the show was touch and go,” he added. “At one point, it was not certain we would be able to have a show. The ground on the rodeo arena was challenging.”
Looking forward, though, Gray said he has plans to grow the festival including classic cars cruising Maine Street, a sock hop at the Gym at Venturacci Park.
Long term, however, Gray has been speaking with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about racing at Sand Mountain.
In addition, Gray is interested in bringing razor racing to Octane Fest. Razor racing is a type of off-road truck series, much like Octane Fest began with in its infancy.
“I think they need to revamp the show and bring new things into Fallon,” Gray said. “One thing is razor racing. It could resemble the Ultra Light trucks we had. It’s important to keep the show fresh. If we can’t do that, I think our crowd will let us know through their attendance.”
Top Gun winners
On Saturday, action at Top Gun Raceway kicked off with the Junior Dragster series and Super Pro, Pro ET and Sportsman ET races.
A.J. Thomas of Chowchilla, Calif., won the Junior Comp division over Yerington’s Megan Shaffer and Kaitlyn Savolt. Thomas, though, finished third in the Junior Drags 15-17 divisions behind champ Myka Lopez and Brandon Savolt.
In the 13-14 class, Cade Poe of Los Alamitos, Calif., won the top prize followed by Michael Crump and Keoki Desa of North Las Vegas. As for the 10-12 division, Leigha Miller slipped past Maverick Molloy for the win, while Macie Gordon beat Cy Mitchell and Emersym Rose Pires in the 6-9 class.
In the Super Pro division, a pair of Fallon drivers took the top spots as Frank Barrett nipped Lonnie Grace. Fallon’s Jim Grace, meanwhile, placed third in the Pro ET class behind Jake Guadagnolo and Kyle Morris.
Capping the action was Fallon’s Walt Stacy, who won the Sportsman ET division over Fernley’s Dan Murphy and Jim Setterberg.
Following that action, the drivers competed Saturday and Sunday in a two-day event in 12 divisions.
Danny Valdez won the Super Comp with Fallon’s Mike Hiatt taking third, Darryl Mitchell earned first in the Super Gas, Joe Janusch won the Super Street and Jim Rau was tops in the Super Stock/Stock Combo.
In the Pro ET, Fallon’s Jim Grace earned another win, while Tami Phillips of Fallon won the Sportsman ET division and Ed Bruflat of Fallon was third.
In the Junior series, Cy Mitchell won the 6-9 class, Molloy was first for 10-12, Hannah Ellison of Las Vegas won the 13-14 group and Trey Vetter of Henderson won the 15-17 division.
Results for Rattlesnake Raceway were not available at press time.