Vegas to Reno, is the crown jewel of the Best in the Desert series

The ultimate off-road race is set to start in Beatty on Aug. 18.

The General Tire Vegas to Reno race is the longest off-road race in the United States at 550 miles.

This year’s race will feature 344 entries, 47 trick trucks, 25 Class 1000 cars, 33 Class 6100, 49 Turbo UTVs.

The festivities will start on Aug. 16 with the time trials for Trick Trucks and Class 1500. On Aug. 17 is the registration and technical inspection and contingency. This year there will be a new host, Texas Station Hotel and Casino at 2101 Texas Star Lane, North Las Vegas.

“The race just outgrew the parking lot at the Aliante Hotel,” Russ Turner, spokesman for Best in the Desert, said.

Another great thing about the registration is one can talk and meet the racers while they wait in line at the tech inspection. The drivers that show up to this don’t mind talking about the race or even signing autographs and they don’t mind taking photos or showing off their cars. It is a great way to peer into a Trick Truck to get an idea of what it’s like to drive this 6,000 pound beast of a truck.

“If you are used to seeing the small-course trucks from the Lucas Oil series, well there is no comparison,” Turner said. “You will be amazed at the size and the engineering involved in these beast vehicles.”

Who could win?

Last year Andy McMillin in his #31 Trick Truck beat Jason Voss, who was going for his fourth straight win in a row of the Vegas to Reno race. McMillin has to be a favorite and Voss in his #35 truck also has to be up there.

Voss is leading the Best in the Desert series now with 320 points, which shows how consistent a driver he is. Rob MacCachren out of Las Vegas has the capability to win too. He came in second last year to McMillin, just 12 minutes slower.

What about Class 15oo winning overall? The last Class 1500 to win was Garrick Freitas in 2012. So a buggy could win overall too. Class 1500 driver Cody Parkhouse out of Long Beach, California came in fourth last year.

The course

The race itself will be on Aug. 18, starting in Beatty and end just south of Reno, in Dayton, Nevada. According to Best in the Desert organizers, the elevations along the course vary from around 3,000 feet to over 7,200 feet.

Temperatures will range from the high 90’s during the day to the low 40’s at night through the higher elevations.

From Beatty, the course travels north past many towns that were rich in Nevada’s silver and gold rush mining history, including Klondike, Tonopah, Gabbs and Rawhide.

Where to watch the race

The starting line is open for spectators and is easily located off to the right of U.S. Highway 95 going north just before you enter the town of Beatty at Fluorspar Road.

Turner said they will be using a course that was used two years ago.

“The veteran racers will remember it but unlike Baja we don’t allow the drivers to pre-drive the course,” Turner said.

Casey Folks, the founder of Best in the Desert, said the reason why they don’t allow pre-running is due to the BLM regulations.

Turner added that the course is marked by Best in the Desert group, and all the GPS coordinates and hazards are logged in. These points are then given to the racers.

“A good race crew would then enter these GPS coordinates into their car systems,” Turner said. “These coordinates are given to the racers weeks before the race so that crews can study them.”

It is easy to find the start on race day because 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.

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.

Best in the Desert says the best spot to see the vehicles is from the starting line. They don’t let spectators into the pit stops without a pass.

“You can also go to the pit stops along the 550-mile route and watch from the roads,” Turner said. “Most of the pit stops are near a road so there is road access.”

“The closest pit to Beatty is Springdale,” James Revert, a longtime race observer said.

“It is about 12-13 miles north of Beatty off of Highway 95.”

This is the first Vegas to Reno without Casey Folks, who passed away this year on Jan. 12.

Vegas to Reno was an absolute favorite of Best in The Desert founder Casey Folks. It marked his first race where he added car, truck and quad race vehicle classes to his already established motorcycle classes. Operations Manager Donald Jackson, who worked side-by-side with Casey for more than 14 years, follows in his footsteps.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at