Two General Motors engineers will once again race a Buick Regal GS in a 90-mile Nevada road rally this month, after coming first in class last year. Whereas last year the Buick Regal GS competed in the 120-mph class, this year it will try the much more difficult 135-mph grouping.
In contrast with a traditional race, the Nevada Open Road Challenge is not about which car finishes the course first. The race consists of a 90-mile stretch of two-lane state highway that is closed for the event. Drivers enter in a speed category, and must complete the course with an average speed as close to the class category as possible. Last year, the Regal GS team averaged 119.9991 mph to win the 120-mph group. That earned them the “Most Accurate Rookie” award.
As last year, the car will be piloted by Buick Regal GS lead development engineer Bill Rietow, and powertrain engineer John Townsend will serve as navigator. The pair says experience from last year proved that certain sections of the 90-mile route can be driven at much higher speeds than expected, meaning they are confident of being able to average 135 mph for the entire course.
The Buick Regal GS is essentially the same as any model available at a showroom, with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that produces 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Buick only added data-logging computers and safety equipment comprising a roll cage, racing bucket seats, and five-point harnesses.