For years, the main concern of Beatty residents regarding off-road racing in the area has been the effects of racing on the off-highway roads in the area, and it is fresh in locals’ minds because of Best in the Desert’s “Vegas to Reno” race, in mid-August.
Off-road recreation and exploration is popular with area residents and is a key element to the town’s tourism economy.
Although canceled this year because of the pandemic, the local VFW’s annual Poker Run, which draws participants from around the country, uses dirt roads to take folks on routes that explore the mining history and geology of the area, and guides, largely developed through the efforts of organizer Karl Olson, enable visitors to explore these attractions on their own.
Because of a change in the race course this year, the Beatty Town Advisory Board asked the BLM to impose a 25-mph speed limit on a portion of the route that passes through important historical areas, principally in the vicinity of the old Pioneer and Mayflower mine sites.
During the board’s last meeting, member Perry Forsyth complained that, although the course gets graded after the race every year, the result has been a build-up of berms on the sides of the roads, while the roads themselves have gotten lower. He said that this makes it difficult for people to find a place where they can turn around. He wondered if, in the process of rehabilitating the roads, they could push the berm material to the center and create a crown in the road.
Board treasurer Erika Gerling cautioned against blaming things on the race operators that might not be their fault.
Olson, who was present in the meeting, said that the he had accompanied BLM personnel in doing a thorough pre-race assessment of the roads, and that the BLM and local citizens will be reviewing the road conditions and holding Best in the Desert responsible for their reclamation.
“It’s time to turn a new leaf, and not revisit the past,” said Olson, who seemed impressed with new people involved.
“If we can get everyone—the town, the BLM, the Board of County Commissioners, County Roads—to cooperate, instead of being a victim we can lead the movement,” said Olson.
Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty