Jim Peruto hits 252 MPH on Route 318’s Silver State Classic Challenge in an ’06 eBay special Charger.
By Cliff Gromer Photos by TheBruntBros
When the quarter-mile strip gets boring and going around in circles makes you dizzy, adrenaline-fueled speed junkies pack up their gear and head out to Ely, Nevada, for a quick 90-mile jaunt on State Route 318 over to Vegas. It’s not the slots or the showgirls that draw these adventure seeking lead feet. And it’s not even the
three-dollar prime rib specials. It’s the chance to run as fast as you dare on a public road without the fear of collecting a speeding ticket or two. And a chance to get your name into the record books. Once a year, Route 318 is closed to normal traffic and grandmas dawdling along at 90 MPH. That’s when the road is open for the Silver State Classic Challenge. Unlike a closed road course where you can practice and sharpen your technique, practicing on Route 318 earns you a disqualification. The not-for-profit sanctioning body has run this event since 1988 and fields a host of different classes that put a cap on top speed. You work your way up to the Unlimited Class where you can hit Mach 2 if you are able. Route 318 is real world driving with wide left and right sweepers and dips and bumps, many in the middle of corners, plus blind corners. They’d never design a closed course anything like this. Getting airborne comes with the territory. Be sure your wheels are pointed in the right direction when you come down. Hitting a high top speed in a given section is not the goal. It’s completing the course with the highest average speed that counts. Up until this June, the average speed record stood at 207.7801 set back in May 2000 by Charles “Chuck” Shafer and Gary Bockman in a Chrysler LeBaron ARCA race car. Running 200+ MPH on a public road is not without peril. Last year, a driver and his
passenger were killed when they blew a tire at speed, flipped, rolled, crashed and burned.
Competing in the Silver State is a dream for many. It is for Jim Peruto. A car nut since 8 years old, Jim started out street racing as a teenager and then quit when he shouldered a large dose of responsibility. He hit the track a few years back racing everything from ¾- and full-size midgets, a Corvette, open-wheel Formula cars, stock cars, GT-1 cars and anything else he could get his hands on. He’s been competing in the Silver State since 2006.