2010 Octane Fest
Fallon, NV
Story By Charlene Bower
Pictures by Josh England, Pat Pharris, Charlene Bower


Recently while on one of our many Pirate4x4 road trips, the topic of motorhome demolition derbies came up. We all agreed that it would be a blast to participate in one of them. Little did I know at that time that I would be in one of them! Chuck Dempsey, Speed Technologies Class 1 driver and my driver of record, took the wheel of the exquisite 1980 35+ foot motorhome called Big Buck at the 2010 Octane Fest. We had full intentions of taking everyone out! With 5 gallons of gas between the two of us, an open carburetor, no security from the large window openings, and a battery blocking our exit at the door 20 feet behind us, we both acknowledged that this was not the smartest thing that we had done, but after a shake of the head, Chuck put the pedal to the metal (literally). Big Buck did awesome, and the shocks were perfect for the terrain around the outer edge of the SuperLite track. We were crusin’ the wrong way on the figure 8 track and then took a left and as we drove up the outer bank the motor quit. Chuck tried to hot wire the already hot wired motorhome, but we were sitting ducks. We got hit around the bathroom, and surprisingly the motorhome only kinda rocked a little. After minutes of trying to get the engine to refire, I went back and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grabbed us a beer as the whole rear of the motorhome got wiped out...

The motorhome demolition derby was the grand finale to Friday nights entertainment that also included quad wars, a car demolition derby and monster trucks jumping over cars. Octane Fest had begun with lots of power behind it and the packed grand stands were on their feet cheering on the chaos. The evening ended at the Pirate4x4 Saloon, well, it actually ended at the Super 8 Bonanza hotel bar, but that is a whole different story…

Saturday during the day, the attention was turned to the field at the opposite end of the fairgrounds. CalRocs had brought out their equipment and cones to create rock crawling courses out of the mound of rocks and concrete that had been sprawled across the big dirt mound. The spectators were treated to a rock crawling exhibition where they got to see different levels of rigs show their capabilities.

Chris Ridgway drives the Trent Fab #22 buggy on the CalROCS course.

Next to the rock crawling course was the mud bogs. Ten rigs lined up side by side to take on the nasty, thick mud and come out the winner. The winner punched in a quick time with his huge horsepower engine turning specifically cut paddle tires. The final run of the day was Camo and JT "stealing" the Octane Fest Dually that has had tire wobble problems ever since. Sources say it took 80 minutes at the car wash, an alignment and tire balance to finally solve the problem!

At offsite event areas there was also the Hurricams Car Show and the NHRA Division 7 drag races at Top Gun Speedway.

Around mid afternoon you could start to hear the sounds of SuperLites in the main arena turning practice laps. The crowd slowly but surely headed that way and started to fill in the grand stands to get a good seat for the night to come.

Never in Northern Nevada has there been a line up of drivers this big in one place at one time including John Harrah, Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson, Johnny Greaves, Chuck Dempsey, Cameron Steele, Carl Renezeder, Brian Deegan, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg and Roger Norman. There was no money on the table for this race, just a trophy and bragging rights. And as we all know, bragging rights is the key ingredient to a even better race. With a very tight course, there was bound to be entertainment beyond the common short course race…and there was as drivers were punting and t-boning each other and then trying to work their way back up to the front of the pack. The lead changed multiple times, so much that we almost couldn’t keep track of who was where but at the end it was Octane Fest’s Grand Marshall Jeff Ward that took the checkered flag, but that only happened in the last 100 yards as Brian Deegan lost the lead when the right front wheel components broke and he climbed the Pirate4x4 barrier and landed just behind the announcers tower!

Also on the course was the Tuff Cup Rock Racing Event that featured JT Taylor, Chris Ridgeway, Mike Turner and Jesse Haines. They all got a one lap qualifying opportunity to set up the side by side race. JT Taylor had top qualifying time, and Jesse Haines caught an inside rut and flipped his rig, loosing both front springs on his qualifying run! Qualifying put JT and Chris side by side on the pole, where JT took the hole shot. It took Chris to the final lap to squeeze inside JT on the tire obstacle to take the win, and Mike in third.

The Tuff Trucks had just as much of a battle as the Mad Metal crew showed up in force with their trucks, and the Tuff Cross Endurocross was a pretty wild race for vetran dirtbike racers. While talking to the panting dirt bikers afterwords, the concensus seemed to be that they would have preferred to be in the mountains hitting goat trails instead of the tires and logs that were put in their way.

Sunday was another day at the dirt area with NMXD Motocross and CalRocs rock crawling exhibition. It was also the finals at the NHRA Division 7 drag racing at Top Gun. I tried to get the Pirate4x4 Van on the drag strip to get its 100yard time, but I got shut down. Maybe next year…I will certainly be back, it was a ton of fun everywhere we looked!

Another Awesome Opportunity:
I got the opportunity to accompany Grand Marshall Jeff Ward to Top Gun where he got to ride in a F/A-18 Hornet from the Navy Fighter Weapons School, TOPGUN at Naval Air Station Fallon. Jeff got to fly with Captain Cheever who was scheduled for an hour and half training mission. They reached a supersonic speed approaching Mach 1.8 or nearly 1,100 mph during the flight. Jeff said that he did pretty good because he was used to the g-forces of being in an Indy car, but it was hard to find the enemy planes around you. Lucky guy!