Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 1:45 p.m.
We have hit noticeable traffic on our way north today – as much as we’ve seen recently outside of Clark County. Granted, to call it traffic is a bit of a stretch, but we’ve seen a steady pace of cars – as many as a three or four a minute (gasp!) – on Highway 318.
To those of you in cities, that’s not much – the road my house is on can average that any time of day – but out here that can be surprising. You’re often the only car on the road for miles.
Why the traffic?
Perhaps people want to take in the scenic beauty – it is a pretty ride; the highway cuts through the White River Narrows and features miles of rolling sagebrush-covered hills and ranchland. Perhaps they’re looking to cut some miles off the trip north to south, instead of taking the longer route on U.S. 93. Or perhaps they’re scoping out next year’s Silver State Classic Challenge.
That’s a road race, but don’t confuse it with the one that happens every day during rush hour on the Las Vegas Beltway. This is a legal race. Twice a year, Highway 318 is turned into a 90-mile open road course, giving qualified drivers and their vehicles a chance to race down the closed roadway.
The highway runs from its intersection with Highway 6 on the north, about 25 miles out of Ely, and its intersection with U.S. 93 north of Alamo, and it has seen some incredible races. The Guinness World Record for fastest speed on a public highway in a legal race was posted in 2012 by Jim Peruto in a Dodge Charger. He who clocked a speed of 217.5570 mph. (No, we’re not anywhere close to that, thank you very much. The Land Rover we’re in is an all-terrain vehicle. They don’t put spare tires on the hoods of race cars, do they?)
The Silver State Classic Challenge runs in September, and its sister, the Nevada Open Road Challenge, runs in May. You can check out the details of the Silver State Classic Challenge at the group’s website, but beware: If you come out here thinking you’ll practice, think again. First, realize the danger – there are people who live out here and a couple of small communities. Second, realize that the area is patrolled by law enforcement, and a speeding ticket on the highway before a race can be grounds for disqualification.
Instead, enjoy the ride. It’s a beauty.