Las Vegas Hop – Extreme High Rollers

Extreme High Rollers

Once upon a time there were plenty of warriors on the LRM battlefield, aka the hop pit. Now that it’s been whittled down to five per category, the fight at the Super Show has become more intense and now more than ever it’s critical to bring your “A” game. We were a little low on topflight, record-breaking performances at the Super Show this year, to be honest. In previous years, most of the records are set at the show, as opposed to the ones set at the show this year, but with that said, it was still a great contest.

Sometimes it becomes a job just getting to the show. For starters, the Double-Pump category was short one competitor for Vegas. No one knows that better than Roy Romero who lost his ’83 Regal off his trailer on the way to Vegas. Thankfully Roy was fine, but his car became a write-off. Hopefully he’s down but not out and will build another car for next year. Everyone should read our “Trailer Safety” article (Aug. ’08, page 102) because this can happen to anyone. Just a suggestion.

A strange quietness seemed to lull over the hop, maybe having to do with the unusually cold weather that greeted everyone. Many of the hop competitors felt that the weather did play a major part in why their cars didn’t get off as well as they normally do. Fact or fiction we don’t know, but we do know that the numbers weren’t hopping like the usual numbers at previous hopping contests, but factor in some of the usual madness and you have the makings of an interesting hop nonetheless. In the Single-Pump category Dave Marquez and Shorty’s Hydraulics split First Place, both topping out at 68 inches. This was 4 inches shy of the tour record, which is held by Dave, who took home an additional $1,500. Shorty’s other vehicle, a ’64 Impala, hit 63 inches and placed Third, winning $250.

In the Double-Pump class there were only three competitors present, so it was just a matter of where they placed. In the end, the Black Magic ’78 Cutlass took First with 78 inches and won $1,000. This was off 1 inch from the tour record, but luckily Ron was also the one to hit that extra inch at an earlier show. He also won an additional $1,500 for the tour record, but that didn’t come without some controversy. After his win in the Double-Pump category, and soon after his post-inspection by the head hop judge, Ron packed up the car and rolled out. A few of the competitors complained, stating that the rules clearly say you’re not allowed to leave with the vehicle until given the OK by a hop judge. Some of the competitors felt it was suspicious, but the judges said that since they did do a post inspection of the vehicle, the win should stand.

The Truck Hop also saw an upset at the Super Show. Shorty’s Hydraulics has dominated this class for quite a while now and ironically is the tour’s current record holder in this class. Brian Gillespie of Cool Cars beat out Shorty by 4 inches, but was short of the tour record by 3 inches. Shorty, however, did take Second, Third, and the tour record, winning a combined $2,250, which isn’t too bad for a day’s work in one class.

There was also a change in the rules this year for the Radical Hop category that allowed cars to have 16 batteries and hold the trucks to 14 batteries in an effort to level the playing field for cars. It seemed to have worked, upping the amount of cars in the Double-Pump field and giving them a chance against the longer wheelbase trucks. The Radical Hop saw a field of two trucks and three Impalas with Mondo and his ‘62 Impala from Hi-Low taking the win with a 105-inch swing. In doing so, he was the only person in the hop competition this year to break a record at the Super Show. He received $2,500 total for the win and the record. Todd Land took Second and Third with 98 and 97 inches in his ’64 and ’61, respectively. Many of the cars seemed to like hopping down hill, which was evident by the number of cars that were chased as they rolled toward the stage.

Moving onto the Street Dance, the one, two, and three spots read almost like last year’s winner list. Rob Robertson was in the Third spot winning $250 this year, changing it up from last year’s winner, Travis Piper. First and Second Place were identical to last year with Juan Chavoya and his ’86 Cutlass flying, rocking, and rolling to Second Place and $500. Juan managed all of this even after burning out a solenoid just before coming out to compete. A quick rewire got him out but made it harder to get all his moves, but he pulled through. For yet another year, the Shorty’s Hydraulics’ crew and their ’85 Blazer, “El Mero Mero,” showed why they’ve won consistently with a score of 27 out of 30 and banking a cool “G.” They did all this even after losing the front driver side wheel during the routine. Shortly afterward, the Wayne Costa Memorial award was given to John Vega, the pilot of “El Mero Mero.”

The Radical Hop was a no-holds-barred, leave-it-all-out-on-the-hop-pit contest. Many times the vehicles doing battle leave many of their parts on the ground, literally. Wheels flying off, glass breaking, and things burning make it an exciting visual feast. This year did not disappoint. Rogelio Loera Jr. came to Vegas to do battle with his ’84 Cutlass. The color green with the top cut off, rollbar in place, and solenoids smoking, placed Third with a score of 24 points and snagged $250. Next up was the Black Magic crew who did manage to keep all their wheels on this year. That feat, along with some good switch work by Ron, netted a Second Place finish and $500. Rob Robertson and his purple and white blazer managed to hold it together as well by going through all the necessary moves, garnering him 28 points for First Place and $1,000. Rob placed Fourth earlier in the year.

With the end of another season we saw some new excitement in the radical class, with the addition of some good-looking cars making their way through the hopping pits. For those of you who’ve been counting, we gave away one of our biggest purses yet–close to $20,000 in prize money at the Super Show alone. We’re sure the judges are going to have some changes in the works to make 2009 even more exciting. We’d like to thank all the contestants this year for coming out and competing. They give the crowd a great show and hopefully had some fun in the process. Until next year, charge those batteries and gear up for another wild, swingin’ ride in 2009.