Hoff holds off the competition to win Figure 8s

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Perennial racer and local bikesmith Tim Hoff said he’s finally able to check off a big box in his “Jackson Hole Bucket List.” He’s won the Teton County Fair Figure 8 Race after 12 years of trying.

Ten days of fair culminated Sunday night in a signature event that still packs ‘em in to capacity. The Figure 8 Race took the place of Demolition Derby way back in 2005 after derby entries dwindled due to a lack of available cars. Since then, the 8s have been crazy popular with both record participants and spectators swelling to get in.

“There’s still tons of enthusiasm for this event every year,” fair manager Rachel Grimes said. “The bleachers hold around 2,500 and it’s always a sellout. We have to cap the entries at 30 or we would be going all night. As it is, we start at seven and end at almost eleven.”

Enthusiasm at the Figure 8s is always high. Photo: Buckrail // Sarah Averill

Racing fans are never disappointed as Figure 8 races combine the highspeed thrills of racing with plenty of rough and tumble paint-trading as cars lean on each other in the turns, and meet up for potentially disastrous consequences at the intersection.

For winner Hoff, it’s been a long time coming. A dozen times he’s paid his entry fee only to trailer home a banged-up #1 car —settling for 3rd in 2016, and 2nd place in both 2017 and 2018.

This time around, Hoff was able to put together the perfect run when he needed it thanks to a little savvy early on in the night.

“I breezed through the 1st heat, hammered down all the way and was way ahead,” Hoff told Buckrail.

That win moved Hoff straight to the semis where he was in a heat with the winners of each preliminary heat. Hoff said he held back and saved his car a bit in the semis knowing he was up against the night’s best in that round with the finals still to go.

“I knew it was going to be a hard round. This one kid in #67 (Kobe Piatek) had a super fast car. And you had Joel Tate killin’ it for Buckrail. Hiltbrunner, he’s the man. He’s such a good racer,” Hoff said.

Buckrail 151 Car digging in. Photo: Buckrail // Sarah Averill

Hoff said he and Hiltbrunner seemed to be on opposite laps in the semi round, meaning they kept meeting up at the dangerous intersection. But the veteran racers avoided devastating collisions that could have wiped out both cars.

“We both waited on each other when we had to. You smash in the intersection and you blow your radiator and trash the other guy’s car. Nobody wins in that.” Hoff said. “There was plenty of contact in the corners. Rubbin’ is racin’. But I was laying back just trying to finish in the top three.”

Hoff was among the top three finishers in semis where he moved on to the final round. In the finals, Tate blew an axle to put him and the Buckrail car out of the running. Hoff raced hard after that, believing he was in second place when the checkered flag flew.

“The last two years I thought I won only to find out I finished second,” Hoff said. “This time I thought I was in second place until they told me I won.”

Don’t expect Hoff to hang it up, though. The bikesmith, who spends his days at the shop he owns tinkering with bicycles, says his car is in too good a condition to park.

“The car is completely perfect and ready to go,” Hoff said, already eying a run in 2020.

1st place – Tim Hoff (#1).  Payout $1,850. Hoff Bikesmith, Melvins Brewing, Todd Williams Photography, VH Builders. Exposure Signs.
2nd place – Eric Hiltbrunner (#00). Payout $1,110. Moose hockey.
3rd place – Tyler Wallace (#9). Payout $740.  Jackson Towing Partners, Flat Creek Repair.
Best Paint Job – Kobe Piatak. Payout $200. Teton Motors, Rob Piatek Inc., Reaction Photo, Hunt Construction.

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