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Racing The Long Way To Reno

Posted in Events on September 20, 2016
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Photographers: Tom Leigh

It has been done before. This year it was done for the 20th anniversary of the Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno race. The Vegas to Reno race is the longest off-road race run in the United States. Usually over 500 miles of Nevada Desert Terrain. Organizer Casey Folks decided to make the race a 2-day event starting in Alamo, Nevada with an overnight stop in the small town of Tonopah. Race mileage would total 650 grueling miles across the Nevada desert. The second day teams would finish the event in Dayton just as they always have. Every year the race breaks records with number of entries. This year a record 343 teams would start the Vegas to Reno event. Everything from 900 horsepower fire breathing unlimited Trick-Trucks to single seat buggies to the ever popular UTV’s. Of course you can’t count out the motorcycles which started hours earlier than their four-wheeled counterparts.

Course Controversy

Casey Folks is known for blazing new trails. He has an outstanding relationship with the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that issues the final permits and signs off on the approval for Folks to host an off-road race on Federal lands. Folks is one of the very few that can get permits approved especially for an event like the Vegas to Reno race. Environmentalists sounded the alarm early this summer when Folks made plans public to have the race cross the Basin National Monument. The area has 704,000 acres of undeveloped land. President Barack Obama declared the area a national monument in 2015 under the Antiquities Act. The Bureau of Land Management granted a permit for the race to cross the area because Obama’s monument proclamation allowed for motorized vehicle use on roads that already existed before the proclamation was created. The BLM did an impact study to wildlife and vegetation in the area and found the impact of the race would be minimal. Once the BLM study came out, environmentalists had time to make comments and voice concerns. All of the input was considered and a race permit was issued to Best In The Desert just days before the race was set to begin.

The Re-Route

At the drivers meeting, racers were warned about crossing the Monument. There would be speed and passing restrictions. The speed limit would be 35 mph and zero passing in the area. Folks had positioned volunteers in the area ready to disqualify racers for violating the rules. Folks said “my integrity and my race permit is on the line.” Basically a warning to racers not to screw up! As fate would have it, Thursday night before the race, a military helicopter from Nellis Air Force Base crashed in the area of the monument which is adjacent to their Nevada Test and Training Range. According to a statement released from the base, four crew members were transported to a local medical facility for treatment. In a last minute move, Folks had to re-route the race course. Racers would start in Alamo. Race to pit 1. Load up on trailers and re-start their time on the course at Pit 2 in Tikaboo.

Tonopah Triples Overnight

During Best In the Deserts previous 2-day staged event, race vehicles were sent to impound which prevented crews from working on them overnight. This year was different. Freedom to repair, change and replace parts. Tonopah is a town of less than 3,000 people. There are only a handful of hotels, a few fast food restaurants and a few gas stations. So where do you put 343 teams, their support vehicles and race trucks? Best In The Desert secured a large area at the Tonopah High School for camping. Dubbed “Camp Adventure” the teams packed the area. Overflow areas were set up for extra vehicles. The racers stopping overnight in Tonopah is great for the local economy. Normally a sleepy little town it’s the last stop for miles for those looking for food and fuel on the way out West.

Bebo Is Back

Jason Voss has overalled the Vegas to Reno race for 3 consecutive years in a row, so its natural for all eyes to be on him for another win. That didn’t quite happen this time. The 2016 title went to Andy McMillin who in the inner off-road circles has the nickname of “Bebo.” The McMillin family has been involved in off-road racing for decades and it’s a big a deal when Andy gets behind the wheel. A former baja sensation, Andy has 5 Baja 1000 championships. He has taken some time off to raise his family and focus on his family business. Andy has rarely been seen behind the wheel of a 900 Horsepower race truck, only occasionally stepping in to help out another driver. It wouldn’t take long for Andy to get up to speed in his familiar office. And when he came into the finish line in Dayton, it looked just like that, another day at the office. Booyah!

2016 Vegas To Reno Results

Trick Truck

1. Andy McMillin
2. Rob MacCachren
3. Josh Daniel

Class 1500

1. Cody Parkhouse
2. Sam Berri
3. Jon Walker

Class 6100 (Spec TT)

1. Nick Mills
2. Zach McKinley
3. Bobby Pecoy

Class 10

1. Johnny Buss
2. Shane Earn
3. Peter Hajas

Class 7

1. Daniel Werle
2. Dallas Luttrell
3. Troy Messer

Class 19 (UTV)

1. Justin Lambert
2. Matt Burroughs
3. Rhys Millen

Unlimited Polaris

1. Derek Murray
2. Justin Brisbon
3. David Martinez

UTBO

1. Jason Murray
2. Jacob Carver
3. Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Class 3000

1. Jon Graham

Class 2000

1. Ryan Golson
2. Nathan Martino
3. Ryan Etter

Trophy Lite

1. Joshua Cobb
2. Todd Jackson

Class 1100

1. Mason Cullen

Class 1200

1. Greg Foutz

JeepSpeed

1. Skyler Gambrell
2. Tim Martin

8100

1. Bob Dziurawiec
2. Rod Lewis

Class 5000

1. Todd McMiniment

Class 8

1. Marc Van Tassell

Class 4400 (Ultra-4)

1. Mel Wade

Vintage

1. Jason Paule

Class 3700

1. Mike Bragg
2. Billy Bunch

Class 2400

1. John Hsu
2. Nick Carolan
3. Ryan Curtis

A Spec truck navigates through a little mud on the race course.
The 2016 Vegas Reno featured some of the roughest sections ever raced.
Tech and Contingency was held at the Aliante Casino in North Las Vegas
The race format featured a 2-day “staged race”
Racers had to quickly load and unload trucks on trailers after a helicopter crash forced a course re-route.
The race was restarted at Pit 2.
The Honda Racing Team hits a rare water crossing on the course.
Racers reported a large amount of silt beds which were problematic for many.
UTV’s came out in large numbers for the Vegas to Reno race.
The key to getting your truck noticed in the desert is a colorful wrap job.
The Vegas to Reno saw a record 343 entries.
Andy McMillin races to a 2016 win
Best In the Desert Organizer Casey Folks watches as the first truck crosses the finish line.
#BeboIsBack Andy McMillin celebrates a Vegas to Reno win.

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