How the Pahrump 250 was lost; how it returned

The Pahrump 250 made its triumphant return to Pahrump with Best in the Desert after a nine-year hiatus.

But what is the story on how it was lost? Why leave this place in the first place, if it was such a great place to race? Many people thought that the race was lost because of the desert tortoise. They thought the environmentalists had finally won.

Casey Folks, president of the Best in the Desert Racing Association, which organizes the bigger off-road races in Nevada, tells the story of how it came to be.

Pahrump was a different place back then in the 1990s. There were only 7,000 people in the area in 1990, and so the off-road racing people had more space to maneuver in.

According to Folks, Nevada remains the only state that allows off-road racing.

Folks said he came to Pahrump at the request of the Herbst family who had three casinos out here at tha time and wanted to do the 250 and even the Vegas to Reno race in Pahrump.

“The reason we came to Pahrump was the Herbst family,” Folks said. “They built a casino that was called Terrible’s Town. Now it’s Gold Town. They wanted an event to start and finish in their casino and they put a lot of money into the event.”

So he permitted a race through the Las Vegas field office, a 250-mile event and they did this for eight years.

Then the Herbst family bought Primm and they said, “We got 1,000 rooms down there.”

“They told us, ‘We have no rooms in Pahrump. We are putting all this money into our race and all the other hotels are benefitting from our race. We want you to move it to Primm.’ That being said, when you are dealing with the Herbst family you either lose sponsorship or you move to Primm. We moved to Primm and then two years later they lost that hotel.”

But now the race is back and how did that happen?

“We are back in Pahrump because Tim Herbst said we just bought a new casino in Pahrump,” Folks said. “I have a lot of county commissioners who would like you to put on a race.”

The county commissioners knew that the Vegas to Reno race brings nearly $48 million to the region. The PVT reported on Friday that this race would bring in $15 million to this area.

And back they came, but it took a lot of talking.

“When we came out here I talked to a lot people about this event,” Folks said. “I talked to the Pahrump Nugget. I then had a big conference call, and the BLM was on it and we talked about how we were going to do this event. And we called it the Pahrump Nugget 250. It was originally going to be the Yucca Mountain 250 but we changed it when we got this sponsorship.”

The event is a good-sized one and he said it will go through two BLM districts, Tonopah and Pahrump field districts. It took about a year and a half to get this event back.

“It requires a lot of special permits and private property,” Folks said.

In comparison, the Vegas to Reno Race has three BLM districts to go through.

All in all, Folks said he likes all the enthusiasm he has felt for this race.

“I think this event will be a spectacular event,” he said. “Every time you do a new event it takes a while to get it going. This has always been a great event.”

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at

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