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2018 Mint 400 underway in Las Vegas

Posted: 12:50 PM, Mar 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-09 21:22:15-05

The Mint 400 kicked off Wednesday in Las Vegas. 

After 50 years, the Mint 400 is more than just a desert race, it is an institution. The Mint 400 attracts hundreds of drivers in various classes of off-road vehicles. The big race, a 120-mile loop, takes place in the desert just south of Las Vegas. More than 400 vehicles are registered this year, making it the largest off-road race in North America. 

PHOTOS: Mint 400 roars into Las Vegas for 2018

A parade of vehicles down the Las Vegas Strip kicked off the festivities on Wednesday. Race vehicles lined up at the legendary “Welcome To Las Vegas” and were led by a police escort in front of thousands of people lined up along the Las Vegas Strip.  In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Mint 400, the procession was led by vintage vehicles driven by the pioneers of desert racing, including Drino Miller’s 1970 Mint 400-winning buggy. Drivers of everything from Trick Trucks to UTVs to buggies fulfilled the dream of driving a race car down the Strip to their final destination at Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street.

The night was capped off with the Dinner of Champions, where participants enjoyed wine from Sans Liege and Mestizo Mezcal with some of the greatest champions of off-road racing from the past and the present.  Rob MacCachren, Sal Fish, Walker Evans, and Rod Hall were just a few of the names in attendance who enjoyed the three-course dining experience delivered by Michelin star Chef Drew Deckman.

Festivities for The Great American Off-Road Race kicked into high gear Thursday with the Method Race Wheels Time Trials for Trick Truck, 1500 Unlimited buggies, and 6100 trucks to determine starting order for Saturday’s 50th anniversary Mint 400.  

Racers from over 20 classes also rolled down Fremont Street on Thursday for the first day of contingency at the 50th anniversary of the BFGoodrich Tires Mint 400.

In the evening the Method Race Wheels Pit Crew Challenge returned with cash and prizes from Fox Racing, BFGoodrich, Impact Racing, and Rigid Industries. Normally the drivers get all the glory, but at the Pit Crew Challenge the unsung heroes of the pits take center stage. In the 6100 class, defending champs GHA Racing came out of the gate hot with a blistering fast time.  After battle round after round, it was the team of Householder Motorsports that knocked GHA off the throne in the finals with a time of 54.8 seconds.

The Trick Truck/1500 Class was really stacked, with heavyweights like MacCachren Motorsports, Youtheory, and RPM Racing knocked out in the first round. Last year’s runner up Team Ready Gunner were able to change two 40-inch tires on their Trick Truck in just 45.4 seconds, besting the 59.4 second time of the crew of Victor Gruber and Dale Dondel.

 The night was capped off with the crowning of a new Miss Mint.  Former Miss Mint winners include “Wheel of Fortune’s” Vanna White and “Wonder Woman” Lynda Carter.

Ashleigh Figearo, Bailey Hughes, Janna Breslin, Tia McDonald, Olivia Gray, and Lesley Andreas spent the day with Mint 400 founding father KJ Howe and Spanish Tony of The Gentleman’s Guide To Racing’s Spanish Tony to determine a winner.  After tests of shooting ability, off-road driving prowess, and wine tasting, Bailey Hughes was crowned Miss Mint for 2018. Hughes is a legit part of the desert racing scene, making her the perfect ambassador as Miss Mint.  She is part of the Sims Motorsports UTV team and has even worked the merchandise trailer at the Mint 400 in the past!

Festivities for The Great American Off-Road Race continue on Friday with another day of tech and contingency on historic Fremont Street in the heart of Las Vegas.  Bring the entire family to meet your favorite teams, learn about the latest offerings from scores of vendors, and see the race vehicles up close and in person.  

Here is the schedule for the remainder of the weekend:

March 9
8 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Odyssey Battery Tech & Contingency Day 2  (Select Classes) | Fremont St. East
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - BFGoodrich Tires Obstacle Course at the Mint 400 | 9th & Fremont
6 p.m. - Drivers Meeting | The Grand Event Center at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, 129 Fremont Street 

March 10
6 a.m. - Limited Race start | Primm, Nev. (Behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino)
12:30 p.m. - Unlimited Race start | Primm, Nev. (Behind Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino)
9 p.m. - The Mint 400 Party of Champions | Atomic Liquors, 917 Fremont St

March 11
11 a.m. - Awards Brunch | The Grand Event Center at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, 129 Fremont Street 

IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE RACES

There will be free general parking at the Gold Strike in Jean and shuttle busses will run ever 30 minutes. There will also be free general parking for spectating at the Primm Valley Mint 400 Start/Finish line in front of Buffalo Bill's, Primm Valley Resort, and Whiskey Pete's. Click here for more information.