Bumpers, grills and exhaust pipes flew across a dusty track at the Clark County Event Center as anxious fans screamed for more obliteration.
The MGAS Motorsports Tuff Truck race returned Saturday for another round of chaos featuring decked-out junkers. Drivers battled throughout the weekend to win thousands of dollars — and bragging rights — by racing through a dizzying course that inevitably caused vehicular ruin. Only a few rigs left in one piece.
Racers had two attempts per day to secure the fastest time around the track, which featured bumps, humps, sharp turns and a muddy pit. Clunkers were categorized in either the street class or the open class. The street class permits street-legal vehicles, like trucks or SUVs, whereas open-class vehicles are more heavily modified.
The route led racers to a gargantuan hill that could make or break their vehicles. Fans were in a frenzy as vehicles roared up the steep incline, either stalling and puttering backward or soaring through the air.
Many competitors lost bumpers after nosediving into the dirt.
A Ford Ranger with mismatched parts looked as if it would snap in half after zooming over dirt mounds. A van painted to resemble the American flag began to smoke as it repeatedly banged against the hard earth, eventually sputtering out of the ring with fewer parts than it arrived with.
Lap times ranged from 30 to 90 seconds. Some racers couldn’t finish the course because their vehicles’ engines surrendered, requiring tow trucks to clear the hunks of metal from the ring.
Fans piled into the stadium for the 2 p.m. event with cool drinks and fried food in hand. They were restless in their seats as they watched cars and trucks destroy themselves. The crashes were loud, but the crowd’s screams were ear-splitting. It was as if the attendees believed they could revive a stalled rig with the volume of their cheers.
Shawnee Davis of Camas and her husband, Steven, took their two children to see the madness unravel, especially as it served as a precursor to today’s illustrious monster truck show.
“This event is just full of self-destruction,” she said, addressing its novelty. “How often do you get to see something like this?”
Although many of the contenders look like they came from the scrapyard, there’s an impressive amount of craftsmanship involved in each vehicle’s creation, Shawnee Davis said.
The Davises have known people who modified their personal rigs to sustain the racetrack’s sudden impacts and sharp turns. Many off-road drivers spend hours tending to their rigs and invest hundreds or thousands of dollars modifying them.
“They’re not all junkers,” she said.
Rigs were adorned with messages like “Send It” or “Yee Yee.” Others had inflatable passengers on deck. Chess Archibald of Vancouver, a frequent Tuff Trucks racer, strapped an inflatable dinosaur and camo rubber duck onto the roof of his street-class 2005 Jeep Cherokee, which excited children in the crowd. Local towing companies and auto repair shops promoted their businesses by flying advertisements on truck hitches as they competed in the race themselves.
Although the resale value of the rigs was presumably low after participating in the event, the entertainment was priceless, Shawnee Davis said.
For more information and a schedule of events, visit clarkcofair.com.