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Nevada Trophy 2003 - The 36-hours of Nevada


Right: Bill Ruttan (driver) and Lindsay Sheppard (navigator) win NVTR2003 - The 36-Hours of Nevada in their 1995 Land Rover Discovery. (click pictures for larger view)

Lovelock, NV., In only their third attempt Bill Ruttan and Lindsay Sheppard won the Nevada Trophy 2003 – The 36-Hours of Nevada. Driving Ruttan’s 1995 Land Rover Discovery, Ruttan, along with navigator Lindsey Sheppard, they set out on their adventure at 8 o’clock Friday morning August 14, their in-time would be 36-hours later.

As with all NVTR events since 1996, Registrations and tech inspection were held Thursday afternoon/evening, and re-opened Friday morning. At 7:30am Michael Green, the Executive Director of NVTR, commenced with the Drivers Meeting.  This year’s event was the first time NVTR would be run in the summer months. Instead of battling snow and mud, a new hazard to participants and workers alike was rattlesnakes, or at least the possibility of them, and the dust. Another new twist in NVTR is the time frame, the “36-Hours of Nevada”. In the past participants would run for 12-hours on Friday, then return to the hotel within their allotted time (to avoid penalty points, 200 per minute if over the 12-hour mark). The event would be re-started on Saturday and run another 12-hours, not including the famed Trophy Course.
Chief of Scoring, John Gulliford, took over from Green to explain how this years scoring worked; each waypoint, some 200+ of them, has a value from 100 to 1000 in Book-1 and 200 to 2000 in Book-2, this you’ll find next to the LON/LAT for the given waypoint. In addition, there are a few bonus waypoints out there; these could have values as high as 5000 points!  In the navigation book you’ll also find a few (four) “Mandatory Waypoints”, these are just as they are named, you must find them and be on time or penalty points will be incurred.  With that said, John waited until 8:00 am then began handing Navigational Book-1 out to the participants. Unknown to the participants at this point, was they would have to find a Mandatory Waypoint Friday night between the hours of 9:00 pm and Midnight in order to obtain Book-2, they would also be required to turn in Book-1.  This year there would be a blanket out-time of 8:00am. With Book-1 in hand participants now had to configure their GPS’ and layout their maps, and/or their laptop (also new for 2003) with the days’ material.  Moments later the workers set out for the first mandatory task.
The area containing the event is always kept secret, but we will tell you that our base of operation was from the Ramada Inn in Lovelock, Nevada. The waypoint the participants are searching for could be anything from a STOP sign (100 points), to a white 3” diameter tag zip-tied to a bush or tree out in the middle of nowhere. Mind you, all waypoints are on or near established roads & trails, and the cars are required to stay on these. If a waypoint is away from a road, participants are required to walk… some of the waypoint you’d wish you were a Mountain Goat due to the hiking involved.

Michael Green, who owns the Off-Road Experience, has a great group of volunteers who help set up the NVTR course.  Setting up the course is no easy task, far from it, it’s long hours. The “ORE” Crew spent at least six weekends this year laying out the over 200 waypoints, plus four Special Tasks, and the Trophy Course.

About 8:45am the first cars began leaving the hotel, their direction anybodies guess, as each team (2-cars), can layout the route as they see best. With that said, the participants first order of business was to get to the first Mandatory Waypoint, which had operating hours of 9:00am to 1:00pm.

The 110 Wagon of Walker and the Chevy Blazer of Eric Olsen were the first team to arrive at the task we named Drag Race. The Marshal would give the drivers written instructions; “This is a drag race. You must first deposit everything you need to change a tire over there (the fire pit), and then line up the two-team cars side-by-side at the start line. Now stand in front of the car, when you here “GO” get in, fit seatbelt, drive as fast as you can the 120 feet, stop the car, get and run and get tool, then remove and refit the left-front wheel. The driver will then get back in the car and drive it across the finish line, but you’re not done yet. The driver must then run back and tag the navigator who is still at the 110 foot mark, once tagged he (and only he) must run to the finish carrying all the tools and jack. Fastest time wins. Ready?”  Car B1, that of Walker & Walker won the Drag Race Relay with a time of 4:45.72 and gaining 6000 points in the process. Greg & Gregory Chapel in the PUCH took second with a time of 5:16.53   Team “A” missed this task by 30-minutes, thus received a 2000-point penalty each.

With the first Special Task of the day out of the way, the teams were free to search for waypoints as they chose. Team “C” of Walker and Olsen headed to the far north of the course, while others, like “A2” of Wayne Vannorsdall/Ross Drombrowski (’91 Range Rover) and team-mates “A1” of Todd & Lori Rueppel (1963 88” Land Rover) stayed closer to the center of the course. Some thought the combo of Vannorsdall/Drombrowski, two-time winners of the Nevada Trophy, had the right idea and followed suit. So the teams droned along throughout the day and into the night. The next Mandatory Waypoint would open at 9:00 pm until Midnight. When the Marshal’s arrived at the location, which can only be found via LON/LAT and your GPS, team “A” was waiting. At 9:00pm it was now dark enough to begin the Special Task, this one was named “Firefly”. The night before the “ORE” crew had come to this part of the woods to layout a Night Time Navigational Task which involved very small reflectors and the use of a flash light to find you way around the course on foot. Fastest time wins.  To make things more fun, two courses were set up, “A1” taking one, “A2” the other.  Todd & Lori Rueppel would beat their teammate with a 6-minutes, 41-seconds verse 6:44. It wasn’t until “E” team arrived that “A” team times were beat. The Toyota mounted team (E2) of Chris Steiger & Jeff Chapel scored an impressive 4:58, while the Father and Son Chapel’s (E1) scored 5:48.

While waiting for other competitors to arrive, the Marshal’s watch the lightshow in the night sky; shooting stars seemed to be everywhere. The show was briefly interrupted when a noise was heard, the dog growled…  seems a Mountain Lion was near by.

Next to arrive was Ruttan/Sheppard (C1) and (C2) Andrew Cawte/Vincent Aguirre in their 92 Range Rover. They completed the course in 6:55 (C2) and 7:55 (C1) respectively.  Chien Liew/Eric Chow (D1) and Randy Katz/Anthony Joseph (D2), both 1997 D90 mounted were next to appear, though car repair was the first order of business.

Chien had only his fog lamps left working; the headlamp switch had overheated, while Randy was overheating the engine (stuck thermostat). Michael Green quickly repaired both cars while the drivers/navigators participated in the task.  At the published time, the Marshal’s broke camp and headed for town down the 2-track trail and wash that led them to the main highway. En route the Marshal’s would pass Walker and Olsen duo, who were still trying to get to the task. They were panelized 2000-points each.

The Marshal’s arrived back at the hotel about 1:30am, and to their amazement, nearly all the teams where there catching some sleep.  At 3:00am the “A” team departed with Book-2 in hand. Their first Mandatory wouldn’t be open until 9:00am Saturday.

At 7:30am the “ORE” crew departed the hotel and headed for the two special tasks of the day.  Turp and Bev, along with Rob Whitaker, April Loui and Michael Green headed for the Motocross course, while John Gulliford and Woody went northwest to set up the shooting task. This was quite simple, using a 22 rifle you had 6 shots, best score and time wins maximum points.  The MX course was a driving course; one lap in clockwise direction, turn around at finish line, the go counter clockwise over a marked course, fastest time wins. The only rule was, Low Range must be used.  With times all over six minutes, it was great to see Chien Liew rip off a time of 4:59.96 with no penalties. Wayne Vannorsdall arrived just as Chien was completing his laps, and with that in mind beat the fast time with a 4:38.47

At Noon both tasks closed for business, but they weren’t finished yet.  The MX course banners were removed, then the three Rover group set out to set up the famed Trophy Course. Unknown to the participants, then final Mandatory Waypoint, which was open from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, was the finish line, and not at the hotel like previous years.  Here each car would have to do one lap against the clock, though on the way the Navigator would be quite busy to say the least.  After April gave course instructions they would encounter a tire in the road, which had to be hauled up a hill and placed beyond a stake. The Navigator would then get back in the car and the buckle seatbelt before the car was permitted to proceed. Next with the Recovery task, hooking up a tug strap, followed by the Cone Rely. Here 4 pylon cones were lined up down the center of the trail, one at a time was moved and the car pulled forward, then cone put back where it came from until the car had passed all 4. Then it was back in the car for a quick ride down the hill, round a hard left turn and onto the finish line.  Chris Steiger/Jeff Chapel (E2) pulled off a time of 2:30.56   whereas the slowest was 3:42.25 of D2. All impressive times.  (see Scoring section on our web site).

Bill Ruttan and Lindsay Sheppard we announced the Winner at breakfast Sunday morning, their teammates Andrew Cawte and Vincent Aguirre took second place overall. The “C” team also won the “Best Team” award for best average score.  The father and son duo of Greg and Gregory Chapel (Greg won the Trophy Course award in years past) took 3rd overall in the PUCH, while his other boys won the “Special Task” award in the Toyota pickup. Combining all points earned/lost on the five Special Tasks scores this award.  Our next event is the NVTR-II (in miniature) on October 25, 2003. This will be a 12-hour event.  As for Nevada Trophy 2004… stay tuned for dates.  Thanks to all the workers and participants alike for the job well done.
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