2013 SSCC Results Print
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Saturday, 28 September 2013 13:14

The 2013 running of the Silver State Classic Challenge was ultimately attended by two Panteras and an overall team of six.  Team Pantera Racing president Dennis (Mad Dawg) Antenucci hauled in from southern California picking up Peter the German on the way, while Asa Jay (AJ) Laughton drove his Pantera to the event with his Dad, Bullet.  John (JB) Bentley drove the mobile TPR headquarters to Ely, while Mark (The Professor) Skwarek flew in and ended up navigating for a fellow competitor.

Although TPR had been planning and working to have five Panteras at the event, in the end tough decisions were made to leave some at home.  When a car isn't ready... it's not ready and there is no reason to push it, sacrificing safety or reliability just to race.  For various reasons this left the team with two competitors, Mad Dawg and AJ.  This didn't stop everyone's enthusiasm, despite record rains in Ely over the four days of the event.

Rain seemed to be the order of the day, every day.  From the time team members began showing up Wednesday night, all through Saturday, rain was an intermittent reminder that summer was on the way out.  The Pantera's were prepped and teched Friday.  Mad Dawg managed to beat AJ through tech and get his covered, while AJ ended up being at the front of the tech line when the next downpour arrived.  Several minutes later the tech team decided to come out and finish Asa's Pantera.

Saturday brought the car show and it began pleasant enough with breakfast provided by the Lion's club.  The weather cooperated for a long time, even though JB continued to check the forecast on his iPad.  Peter the German set up his film equipment and took shots of the Panteras coming and going, and even managed to catch the Ely Ghost Train.  We're still not sure it showed up on film, which might just -prove- it's a real ghost train.

The team of all six guys were nearly constantly together, prepping the cars, shooting the breeze, hanging out or having a meal.  Asa Jay's Dad, Bullet provided some great stories of his days in the military, flying various jet bombers in his career.  Between he and Dennis, there was no lack of conversation and the team really enjoyed having him there this year, and are hopeful he can make it back next year.

Sunday morning came and it was time to race.  Peter was going to drive Dennis' truck the long way around to the finish line.  Bullet had been set up to drive another competitors truck but at the last minute they had a mechanical failure of their race car and headed to Vegas in the hopes of fixing it.  So Bullet rode with Peter and helped set up the film equipment at the finish line.

Dennis and Asa met at TPR headquarters at about 0515 and after checking final items, headed out ahead of the caravan to Lane's Truck Stop.  From then on, it was race day.  The weather was beautiful; in the low 50's, clear, cool, and crisp; perfect for a race.  As the time came, each participant was directed out to stage at the start pits, where Mark Skwarek and Asa Jay were able to get a few more shots of the team just before the race.

 Mad Dawg just before the Start Line

AJ in the start grid

At the finish line, we found Dennis came in with the highest average speed in his class, proving once again it's hard to catch an old dog in a Pantera.  Meanwhile Asa Jay didn't do too badly, finishing below target this year (instead of way ahead).  Maybe next year he'll get it right.  Results can be found on the Silver State Classic Challenge web site.

Even though both Panteras finished the course, there was doubt along the way if it would happen.  In the last 10 miles or so of the course, Dennis began experiencing a fuel supply problem.  For some reason the High Volume Bosch fuel pump was losing pressure, and at a certain pressure drop the computer would shut down the engine.  There he was, like Bullet back in Vietnam, the engine is out, speed dropping quickly.  Would fuel pressure come back in time for a restart before he dropped below tech speed?

Yes!  As soon as Dennis saw the fuel pressure was back up, he'd fire the engine and get back up to speed and then some, making up for the average loss.  He would go through that same exercise a half dozen times before the finish line came into view.  Despite it all, the Dawg showed his perseverance in finishing the race, and did so with the highest average speed in his class.

While Dennis was getting the Pantera ready to roll onto his trailer past the finish pits, Asa Jay was having a concern of his own.  After driving some 800 miles in the Pantera to the event without any problems, as soon as he got above 100 MPH the car began to shake.  In those first few miles past the start line he had seriously considered shutting it down and pulling off to sit the rest of the race out by the side of the road.  He monitored oil pressure and temperature, and prayed.  Whatever it was, wasn't getting worse and there were no "bad" noises coming from the engine, so he pressed on.

AJ managed to keep it all together, including a 130 MPH run through the measured speed trap.  The last few miles were hairy with regards to timing.  When he finished, he figured he was off time by about five seconds.  When the preliminary results came out, it turned out he was spot on his estimate.... about 5 seconds too slow.  That evening, he and Bullet sat down at the Hotel Nevada for dinner and race results while Peter, Mad Dawg and Mark attended the banquet in Vegas.  AJ and Bullet then drove the Pantera back home without incident or vibration at all. He'll be troubleshooting that little problem this winter.

Many of the team members took photos, but only a few are posted so far.  You can view them here.

For more information on how you can join us next year, contact us.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2014 14:06