Sport: 115-m.p.h. Madness

Unlike conventional auto races, in which cars careen around a paved track, off-road competition masses as many as eleven different classes of vehicles in a bone-jolting race against time across the desert. Subsidized by major auto companies and parts manufacturers, California championship races that three years ago appealed to barely 3,000 people now attract crowds of 45,000, who stand along the dusty trails to watch. Last week TIME Correspondent David DeVoss rode two laps as co-driver in a newly inaugurated race, the Laughlin, Nev., 300. His report:

A padded helmet encases my head,...

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