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Vegas to Reno Race starts this Friday in Beatty

<p>Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Best in the Desert race cars lined up waiting for their turn at the starting gate.</p>

Horace Langford Jr./PVT - Best in the Desert race cars lined up waiting for their turn at the starting gate.

The General Tire Vegas to Reno race is the longest off-road race in the United States at 535 miles. This year there will be 299 vehicles entered, 40 Trick Trucks, 34-1500 class (dune buggies), 41 UTV’s, and 27 Ironmen (riders riding solo).

The festivities will start today, which is the day of the time trials in Jean. On Thursday the racers will be mostly at the Alliante Hotel and Casino. In the hotel parking lot, all the cars and trucks will be on display for photos from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Race day is on Aug. 15 and if you never have seen those Trick Trucks go, it is a sight to be seen. The motorcycles start the race early in the morning at the crack of dawn at 5:45 a.m. and the cars and trucks leave the starting line at a more decent hour, at 9:30 a.m. This staggered start is done for safety reasons so the trucks and cars don’t hit a smaller vehicle during the race.

The starting line is open for spectators and is easily located off to the right of Highway 95 going north just before you enter the town of Beatty. There is usually a long line of cars entering the area from the highway so people can just follow the traffic. Once inside, there is plenty of room for parking and watching the cars take off from the starting line.

Russ Turner, a spokesman for the Best in the Desert series, says spectators can also go to the pit stops along the 535-mile route and watch from the roads. “Most of the pit stops are near a road so there is road access,” he said. He did say special permission is needed to get into the pit area.

On Aug. 16, in Reno the officials will open the finish line at 11 a.m. The awards presentation will be at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno from 6-8 p.m.

The VFW Hall in Beatty will be serving food at the start line to race crews this year. They will provide breakfast burritos, muffins, coffee and more.

Last year’s winner was Jason Voss, who took on a field of 52 racers and won the overall Vegas to Reno Race. He will most likely be gunning to win the race two years in a row. Racer Garrick Freitas won it two years in a row in 2011 and 2012 so it can be done.

Voss talked about poll position and said he preferred to be near the front and so you can bet his team will be giving its all at the trials in Jean. “I would rather start closer to the front. The chance of getting clean air. We are starting from the 12th position. We qualified first but hit a cone and got a 15-second penalty. We had the time and the speed, so that sucks. I don’t like to be in the dust,” he told the PVT last year.

Voss is a careful driver and does not take too many chances. He won the Parker 425 this year because he had no mechanical problems. TSCO team headed by Mark Weyhrich had one flat and although they came physically in first place had to yield the trophy to Voss due to the time taken off because of the problem. Weyhrich finished in third in that race.

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