This year, the BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400 isn’t only 400 miles long, it also has 400 entries, making the Great American Off-Road Race also America’s biggest off-road race. The explosive growth has led to two full days of Odyssey Battery Tech and Contingency on historic Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Teams weaved their way through throngs of fans on their way past hundreds of vendors and manufacturers offering the latest in not only racing products, but also safety, audio, suspension, and more for recreational off-roaders and race fans as well.
In addition to reigning Mint 400 champion and Las Vegas native Rob MacCachren, top Trick Truck and past Mint 400 winners including Bryce Menzies, Justin Lofton, and BJ Baldwin were on hand signing autographs and interacting with fans of all ages. Mint 400 promoter Matt Martelli’s vision is to bring desert racing to the masses, and several high-profile celebrities could be found on Fremont Street on Friday before suiting up for Saturday’s race. NHRA Top Fuel champions Antron Brown and Steve Torrence are joining Jim Beaver in the Polaris RZR Star Car; a step down in horsepower but going much further than one thousand feet on the drag strip. Actors Stephen Moyer (True Blood) and Goran Višnjić (ER, Timeless) will also be suiting up for the Mint 400, driving Zero1 Odysseys arrive-and-drive buggies against Mixed Martial Arts legend Dominick Cruz.
On Friday evening the mandatory drivers’ meeting covered the typical safety and logistical issues. In addition though, the Martelli brothers dropped a bomb: the 2019 Mint 400 will see the return of bikes and quads to the race. Handlebars have been absent from the race for years, but they were an integral component of the original Mint 400 memorialized in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
From Fremont Street the action now moves to Primm, Nevada where over 200 limited class cars start racing at 6 AM on Saturday morning. Popular vintage, UTV, Class 1000, and other lightweight race cars will run two laps on the rugged 118-mile course in an effort to win their class and earn bragging rights as a Mint 400 champion. At 12:30 the Trick Trucks, unlimited buggies, 6100 spec-engine trucks, and 4400 Ultra4 cars leave the line. Harley Letner will be first off the line after taking the top qualifying spot at the Method Race Wheels Time Trials, but he will have to fend off a field of over 100 hungry competitors for three laps around the punishing course in order to be the winner of the 50th anniversary Mint 400.