After an intense battle over four grueling laps that eventually came down to corrected time, Dustin Jones took home the overall checkered flag in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Race in the 2021 BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400. The Pro UTV Turbo driver conquered four laps of the Nevada desert with a total time of 8:28:17.949. Vito Ranuio, who led much of the way, finished less than three minutes behind in second, while defending Mint 400 winner Branden Sims completed the podium.
“Since when we first got into desert racing, everybody knew the Mint,” said Jones, who previously won the Great American Off-Road Race on his first try in 2015, in just his third-ever desert race. “It was the biggest race of the year, so it was a dream for us to win it the first time. But to come back out here—and it was a struggle, and a hard race—it almost makes you tear up to come out and win the Mint 400 again.
“I didn’t come here to finish second, I didn’t come here to finish top 10, I came here to win. I was going to crash the car or win.”
A talented field of past Mint 400 winners, including recent event champions like Jones, Sims, and Mitch Guthrie Jr., headlined the marquee UTV entries, but the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Race was much more than a side-by-side showcase for professional drivers. Hundreds of racers lined up across dozens of sportsman car, truck, and UTV classes for up to four laps of this year’s 97-mile course. Ranging from modern machinery, to Baja Bugs and other vintage vehicles, to even selected military vehicles as part of the Mint 400 Military Challenge, the Limited Race always features one of the most diverse lineups of any off-road race in the world.
But as nightfall hit in the second half of the race, all eyes turned to the front of the Pro UTV field. Many of the biggest names were in contention for the podium through much of the race, with Sims, Guthrie, 2021 UTV World Champion Phil Blurton, and Mike Cafro among the big names running strong for the event. but as the action drew towards the finish, Ranuio and Jones established themselves as the two drivers to beat, with Ranuio still out front and Jones flirting with the lead on corrected time.
When all was said and done, Ranuio crossed the finish line roughly 30 seconds before Jones, but needed a gap of more than four minutes to solidify the win. The gap was much closer for third, with Sims edging out Cafro for the position by less than 10 seconds in the preliminary results.
Full live timing and scoring (including live unofficial results), as well as livestream and Weatherman radio coverage, can be found at live.themint400.com. Sunday’s livestream coverage will kick off at 9AM.
The Mint 400 has held the title of the toughest, most spectacular off-road race in North America since 1968 when it was first run. Initially, the race was a public relations event promoting the Mint Hotel’s annual deer hunt. but what started out as a hotel promotion soon grew into a legitimate desert race. Since its 2008 revival, “The Great American Off-Road Race” has only gotten bigger and more prestigious, and deeper fields every year only make it tougher to win.
The 2021 BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400 continues in Primm with tomorrow’s Unlimited, Motorcycle, and Youth races. More information on the event for racers and spectators is available at TheMint400.com, or follow the event on Facebook and Instagram.