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Ackerman: World's fastest unite for unique, rapid race

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Ackerman: World's fastest unite for unique, rapid race

Racers line up before taking off at the Sandhills Open Road Challenge. The complete event is composed of the 55-mile challenge, the Loup 2 Loup and the One Mile Shootout. Drivers burn through these races at up to 150 mph, and some drivers travel from across the world to test their abilities.

It's not common knowledge to many people in Nebraska, but every year people from across America and beyond migrate to Sand Hills pasture land to compete in one of the wildest auto races in the world.

Picture this: You are sitting in the back of a buddy's pickup at 7:15 a.m. drinking your coffee in a pasture somewhere north of Cozad. You'd better like the fact that you are here, because they've closed the road and you aren't leaving until after the event.

Soon, cars will be flying past your vantage point at up to 150 mph in what's known as the One Mile Shootout. Several years ago, I had the privilege of riding in one of these cars. It's a blast, trust me.

The next day, things get even wilder as drivers run the 55-mile Sandhills Open Road Challenge from the city of Arnold north to Nebraska Highway 2.

They come from all over to sprint across this stretch of central Nebraska.

“We have had entries for all the lower 48 (states), and I believe one year Alaska,” said Joe Shown, the event's vice president. “I noticed several Canadian entries and a South African entry in last year's results.”

A year ago, the Loup 2 Loup Race was added to the weekend event. It goes from Halsey north to Purdum on 12 miles of blacktop. A car show and burnout contest in Arnold also take place.

The event is good for the economies of area towns.

“I'm not going to promise you,” Shown said, “but I think we will be very close to raising $1 million for local communities through the end of this year's event.”

This year's event starts Thursday with the Loup 2 Loup Race. On Aug. 9, it's the One Mile Shootout and later the car show and burnout contest in Arnold. It concludes Aug. 10 with the road race.

For more information, visit

Lee covers Midlands racing for The World-Herald.

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