Octane Fest growing in popularity
FERNLEY – When legendary off-road racer Rod Hall and his son Chad took a group of media members out for a ride recently, the event gave a small group a sampling of the sport that has turned the family into icons.
The Halls have built a reputation of being among the best in their sport. Hall was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005 and his 60 years of racing he has more than 160 major events, including participating in every Baja 1000 in its 39-year existence.
“I’m 72 years old and I started racing when I was 14,” Hall said. “So I don’t know if that tells you how much fun its is or not. It’s been a whole lot of years of enjoying the dirt, Baja, catching air and going as fast as you can with whatever kind of car you’re in. So it’s been my life and looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
The opportunity that the media received last week at the Reno-Fernley Raceway is the same chance that anyone could have this at the 2nd annual Octane Fest, which runs from Friday through Sunday in various locations. Fans can enter for a chance to win the “Ride of Your Life,” with Octane Fest’s grand marshal at the wheel.
“We’re poised to become one of Northern Nevada’s premier events, right up there with Hot August Nights and Street Vibrations,” said Rob Daly, Octane Fest director. “The state tourism and local tourism is very interested in what we’re doing and supporting us. Without their support we couldn’t exist.”
For Hall racing is more than a sport, it’s his job and it has led him to places like Mexico and Australia. It has also helped establish a bond with Hummer. Hall helped establish the country’s first stand alone Hummer dealership and the brand has become synonymous with the family.
The Halls race in custom H3s, which come to them as shells with nothing more than the drive train, body and instrument panel being the same as the version you can buy from the dealership.
“You take a vehicle like this Hummer over here off the assembly line, then you take it to a race shop and you can actually build it in about 90 days probably if you’ve got a crew of three or four guys on it, who have built cars before,” Hall said.
Even with the stock looks, these vehicles ride better off-road than some do on road. Chad Hall said in the Baja 1000 he can get them up to 104 mph. The most exciting news for the Halls is that Hummer was picked up by a Chinese company after General Motors discontinued the brand.
“I’m excited to go back racing,” Chad Hall said.
A ride with Hall is just one of the many events Octane Fest has to offer. It will also feature a monster truck ride, truck and tractor pulls, drag racing, rock crawl, motorcycle racing, a demolition derby, a show and shine, along with a concert and vendors.
“We expect 15-25,000 people,” Daly said. “We kind of threw everything at the wall last year to see what would stick and the motorsports end of things seemed to be where the people’s interest was. Anything that had to go with concert didn’t go so well, so went with the motorsports this year…”