The 2019 NORRC Series season kicked off on a suddenly sad and somber note leading up to Race #1, the Big Bend Open Road Race in Fort Stockton, Texas, where 158 vehicles competed in this first of four Open Road Racing event weekends for 2019.
Series regular Deven Hickingbotham, a competitor known for dominating our NORRC Series Best 3 of 4 Series Title category over the past few years, was sadly struck and killed by a drunk driver in a crosswalk in Reno, Nevada the Friday before he was to travel to Big Bend to compete. It truly cast a sober pall on the minds of all our competitors as they lined up on the grid to race in Texas. Many honored the memory of Deven with tribute decals on their race vehicles, generously provided by our 2017 & 2018 NORRC Series National Champion Tom Sorrells. Deven shall truly be missed by us all.
In a race full of surprises, many of our series regulars found themselves off to a rather odd start in what otherwise appears to be shaping up as a very exciting, if not quite different season than years past.
On a chamber of commerce, blue ribbon weather day in West Texas, racers found themselves dealing with several delays on the grid for some rather bizarre on course incidents. Many competitors struggled uncharacteristically on course, as well as off, battling a mix of vehicle failures, parts failures, odd incidents, and even multiple vehicles reported as being “lost” on the course for interesting periods of time.
Back to back NORRC Series National Champion “Texas” Tom Sorrells had a great time variance going in the 135 Class after his first leg, but sadly, his Shelby GT 500 went down on power during the second leg, when his intercooler decided to go 10-100 under the hood. This left Tom sitting on the side of the course, not far from the finish line, with his first DNF in years, if ever, and knocking him out of the 2019 NORRC National Title chase.
After the race, Tom said, “It felt a little down on power, but she was still running okay. Once the mist started climbing up the window out from under the hood, it wouldn’t even run over 130, much less 135, so I told my navigator Jeremy to start looking for a checkpoint with a big RV and a Texas-sized beer cooler to pull over at and join the party.” We heard all he found before giving up was a couple of lawn chairs under a tent and a Dr. Pepper!
2018 NORRC Series 3rd place Championship contender Lanny Lowman had a barn burner of a good time going in the ultra-competitive 140 Class, and was looking forward to a shot at tightening up his variance even more on the second leg when a long series of delays began. After sitting on the grid for hours, having to restart his built LSX427 beast of a Z06 numerous times, the bearings on a pulley on his blower belt drive decided to seize up and ruin his day, leaving him sitting on the sidelines with another highly uncharacteristic DNF, also knocking him out of the 2019 NORRC National Title chase.
Before even climbing out of his car, Lanny said, “Don’t buy no hot rod car. If you have one that runs good already, don’t go turning it into a big ol’ honkin’ hot rod car. If you do, you WILL suffer!” We hear after a nap in the back of an Infinity during more delays on the grid, he got his son Berry to go back to Fort Stockton, and bring his truck and trailer back down to load up for the long drive back after the race was over. Sounds like the Lowman boys missed out on getting any of the BBORR’s famous award banquet BBQ!
Due to many lengthy delays, the event eventually wound up being cut short due to running past the scheduled end time, so no one in the 110 down through 85 MPH classes were able to complete the second leg of the event. This left many racers who were hoping for a chance to make second leg corrections in quite a bind, thus having to stand on their one and only Southbound leg time variances. Among those who made it across at least one finish line, if not both, were many veterans who turned in odd time variances compared to usual.
Former 2016 NORRC Series National Champion and 2018 NORRC Championship runner-up Berry Lowman turned in an uncharacteristic one second off time variance after leg one in the 100 MPH Class. He claimed the cruise control on his backup car, an Infinity Q50 Sport, would not engage at speeds over 89 MPH. He further claimed when he tried to adjust his variance with the throttle alone, that the 400 HP twin turbo V6 had two boost settings, ON and OFF! Said Berry, “Trying to dial that car into the tenths, much less the thousandths, is akin to trying to make your second cousin into your prom date. Sure, someone else might should do it, but you really ought not even try it!” We’ll have to take his word on that one …!
However, sometimes in life, when things get sideways for some, outright strokes of brilliance appear out of the chaos for others. Texas may have knocked two time, back to back NORRC National Champion “Texas” Tom Sorrells out of the competition for this year, as well as 2018 series 3rd place contender Lanny Lowman, but it also gave us a new contender to the NORRC National Championship title chase as our current leader.
Believe us when we say, no one is more surprised to be leading the NORRC Series at this moment than the dynamic Mother-Daughter duo from Reno, Nevada (by way of Alaska) Jessica Morton and Andrea Reed. Especially as Jessica, after climbing out of her Corvette Grand Sport at the halfway point of the race, was quoted as saying,”That was miserable. We fought like cats and dogs the entire way down the course. The car wasn’t happy. The stopwatches weren’t happy. My daughter wasn’t happy, and I darn sure wasn’t happy. We’re so far off our time, better than a second or more, that I don’t even want to get back in the (bleepety bleeping bleep) car to go back North right now!”
Funny enough, after turning in a 0.207 time variance to win the 100 MPH Class, Jessica was further quoted as saying, “Boy, am I sure glad we didn’t have to run that second leg! We’d have gotten ourselves into all sorts of trouble if we did!”
It just goes to show that sometimes, even when you think you’re having a bad day at a race, the sun can still pop out to shine brightly upon you, even if you least expect it. Bask in that warm glow, ladies. Y’all earned every ray of it!
We tip out helmets to Jessica Morton and Andrea Reed as the current duo to watch for the remainder of the 2019 NORRC Series season. As for the rest of you, there’s a lot of road left to race down, and the clock knows no favorites. Good luck to all in Nevada!
Here is a snapshot of where our current 2019 NORRC Series Standings are as the racers head West from Texas out to Northern Nevada to compete in Race #2 of the season, the newly-lengthened and different lengths on both legs Nevada Open Road Challenge.
|2019 National Open Road Racing Championship – Season Standings|
|Mark “Doc” Capener||5.807||REG||REG||REG||5.807||6th|
|Best 3 of 4 Standings|
|Cynthia “Cindy” Clements||0.046||?||?||REG||0.046||1st|
|Leland “Weedie” Sweet||0.442||REG||?||REG||0.442||6th|
|UNL = Unlimited Class|
|DNS = Did Not Start|
|DNF = Did Not Finish|
|DNQ = Does Not Qualify|
|DQ = Disqualified|
|REG = Registered|
|? = Unknown if REG|
In 2018, the NORRC Series season kicked off April 28th with Race #1, the Big Bend Open Road Race in Fort Stockton, Texas. 160 vehicles competed in this Open Road Racing event! Several top contenders turned in fantastic low time variances.
Series veteran Ray Alexander left Texas with the NORRC Series lead, having earned a time variance of just 0.033 off perfect. Series regular Deven Hickingbotham turned in a 0.042 for second place. 2016 NORRC Series Champion Berry Lowman earned third place with a time variance of 0.076.
On May 20th at Race #2, the Nevada Open Road Challenge, saw further tightening of the battle for NORRC supremacy with a new two-way, 119.78 mile race format. It also began to bring to light those who plan to compete for the overall 2018 National ORR Championship Series title versus those who plan to chase the NORRC Best 3 of 4 title.
2016 NORRC Series Champion Berry Lowman took over the points lead by turning in an impressive class win and overall race winning time variance of just 0.0091 seconds, giving him a cumulative time variance of just 0.0851 after two races! In a humorous side note, Berry pulled this off in a four cylinder automatic Chevy Malibu rental car, when the Corvette Z06 he planned to race had last minute engine issues before the race, proving once again that anything can and does happen in Open Road Racing!
2017 NORRC Champion “Texas” Tom Sorrells jumped up into second place with an impressive time variance of 0.0177 off perfect, giving him a cumulative time variance of just 0.0957 after two races. On an exciting note, Tom left Nevada trailing the current series leader by only 0.0106 of a second! It doesn’t get much tighter than that!
Devin Hickingbotham dropped into third place after earning a race time variance of 0.1624 seconds off perfect, trailing the current leader with a two race cumulative time variance of just 0.2044 seconds back.
Race #3, the Sandhills Open Road Challenge on August 11th, really shook up the NORRC Series overall standings. Feeling the pressure of a tight battle for the series lead, 2017 NORRC Champ “Texas” Tom Sorrells stepped up and turned in a fantastic time of 0.288 in the race, to become the NORRC Series leader!
Berry Lowman, who appears to have felt the pressure as well, turned in an uncharacteristic race time of 0.709 seconds off perfect, and suddenly found himself trailing Texas Tom by a 0.4104 overall time variance heading into the season finale.
Lanny Lowman was the big mover and shaker of the SORC, leaping up into third place in the overall standings with an impressive race time variance of 0.076, giving him an overall cumulative season time variance of 0.7968 to date. Lanny trailed his son Berry by only 0.0027 of a second going into the season finale in Nevada.
Race #4, the 31st Annual running of the Silver State Classic Challenge on September 16th, served as a very dramatic, very rich, and very rewarding 2018 NORRC Series season finale for many competitors. The race was filled with many stories of friends honoring and helping friends achieve longtime goals, leading the charge ahead of self-fulfillment, with many competitors reaching goals they’ve struggled long and hard to finally achieve.
That said, everyone in NORRC Series contention stepped up their game in some special way on the traditional 90-mile SSCC one way course down Nevada Highway 318. The final race results were something to behold for many racers, both newer and veteran to the sport alike.
Attempting to become the first official back-to-back NORRC Series Champion, “Texas” Tom Sorrells shocked the competition, showing up in a very different car than his usual Shelby GT500 ride, and also entering a different speed class than usual.
Tom decided to race the late Don Hoffman’s Dodge Viper Laguna Seca Edition ACR, as a tribute to his fallen best friend. He managed to win the 2018 SSCC Hooker’s Choice Award car show with the rare Viper, an honor Don Hoffman had reportedly wanted to win even more than the Pikes Peak victory he once competed for.
Tom showed up on race day in rare Mopar style, and threw down a respectable, but a bit further off the mark than usual 0.4715 seconds time variance in the 130 Class, leaving the door wide open for those hot on his heels a shot at the series title.
2016 NORRC Series Champ Berry Lowman, who trailed Texas Tom by a mere 0.4104 seconds coming into the SSCC, also surprised the competition by quietly opting not to target his drive for a championship efforts behind the wheel, rather, choosing to roll the dice by navigating in the final race of the season for his good friend Bob Glass in his recently restored 1977 Porsche 911 S.
Berry claimed he would rather try to help his friend Bob find his first top of the podium finish in his long owned and finally restored vintage ride rather than drive his own car, or some random rental car. Berry was overheard saying, “How cool would it be to help Bob win in the car that means the most to him?” That said, known for past deadly accuracy in the right seat, and with his game on point, Berry’s nav skills indeed helped “Brother Bob” find the top of the podium in the 100 Class, securing Bob’s first ever win in Open Road Racing with a time variance of 0.1220 off target. Way to drive it home, Bob!
Lanny Lowman, who’s C6 Z06 has undergone massive rebuilding this season, and reportedly wasn’t even running until 8 PM the night before SSCC technical inspection opened in Las Vegas, showed up in a Corvette rocketship! The reported unfinished LSX build powered him to 1st Place in the 1 Mile Shootout on Friday with a speed of 190.4 MPH.
On Sunday, Lanny led off the 155 Class in fast fashion, crossing the finish line a bit further off the mark than usual with a 0.1367 time variance, securing yet another 2nd Place finish in the ultra-difficult 155 Class.
In an interesting racing side note, either Lanny or Berry Lowman now possess every 2nd Place 155 Class trophy given out on Highway 318 since that class returned to the top of the Grand Sport Division in May of 2017 save for one, May of 2018, the only time neither were entered in the 155 Class due to primary car failures and switching to backup cars. Will either one of them ever nab that top spot in 155? Stay tuned in 2019 to see if either of the Lowman boys can get it done on 318!
In the hardest charge to make up time for a win of all of the 2018 NORRC Series competitors, Malcolm “Mac Daddy” Johnson showed up swinging for the fence in his C6 Z06 in the 140 Class. Sitting in 4th Place in the NORRC Series standings coming into the SSCC event, 0.9675 seconds back of the top spot, Malcolm delivered the ORR drive of his life, turning in a 0.0030 time variance off target, upping his game significantly from his previous personal best variance of a 0.027. It was an all out effort all weekend long for Mac Daddy, who finally joined the “Thousandths Club” with a stopwatch only, no less!
So, with all of this excitement all season long via stories of car rebuilds, backup cars, rental cars, seat swaps, dramatic drives, and skinny number finishes, who finally came out on top to win the 2018 NORRC Championship Series title, and the NORRC Best 3 of 4 Series title?
See below for the final season standings in both categories of the 2018 National Open Road Racing Championship Series, then come race with us in the 2019 NORRC Series!
|2018 National Open Road Racing Championship – Season Standings|
|Best 3 of 4 Champ|
|Cynthia (Cindy) Clements||0.083||1.192||DNS||0.5581||1.8331||7th|
|Mark “Doc” Capener||DNS||DNF||12.216||4.427||16.643||N/A|
|UNL = Unlimited Class|
|DNS = Did Not Start|
|DNF = Did Not Finish|
|DNQ = Does Not Qualify|
|DQ = Disqualified|
|REG = Registered|
|? = Unknown if REG|