2017 Polaris RZR Mint 400 –
“The Great American Off-road Race”
Las Vegas, NV
March 1st – March 4th
While Las Vegas, or “Sin City”, might be best known as “The Gambling and Entertainment Capital of the World”, it also can claim one other title. That title would be the home to one of the largest off-road events in the world, the MINT 400. Started in 1967, the MINT 400 has become more than just an iconic race, it has truly become a world class event bringing thousands of race fans to Las Vegas to participate and spectate. It has become the event that all off-road racers aspire to compete in and dream of their shot at bringing home the coveted trophy.
On Wednesday, the MINT got kicked off in style with an epic parade of race cars making their way up the entire Las Vegas Boulevard. Starting at the Welcome To Las Vegas Sign on the south end of the Vegas strip, racers treated spectators to an awesome display of horse power and showed what was in store for the rest of the MINT 400 event. The vehicle procession ended at the iconic Fremont Street bar aptly named Atomic for the MINT event kickoff party. For the next few days, Fremont Street East would be the backdrop for the pre-race fanfare and festivities.
Race starting position was established Thursday during the Method Race Wheels Time Trials which were held north of the Las Vegas Speedway. Racers took turns competing on a challenging course that was setup specifically to determine the starting order for Saturday’s main event. Back down on Fremont Street, race fans took the opportunity to meet their favorite drivers during the Rugged Radios Meet and Greet. While the meet and greet was taking place, fans got treated to two documentaries on the jumbo screen. The first film was dedicated to the MINT 400 circa 1978; the second documentary was focused on last year’s 2016 running of the MINT 400.
Thursday evening also included the Method Race Wheels Time Trials Position presentation to announce who had captured pole position. The main attraction of the night was the Pit Crew Challenge, also sponsored by Method Race Wheels. Teams competed in a heads up tire changing competition requiring skill and speed with the winner of each round moving on to compete in the next round. GHA Racing was crowned the winner of the 6100 class and hometown team Terrible Herbst was crowned champion of the Trick Truck class.
Friday is always Tech and Contingency day on Fremont Street which brings out race teams, race fans and spectators in the thousands. Tech day is a great way for fans to get up close and personal with their favorite UTV drivers while the race teams roll their race cars six blocks up Fremont Street East towards the technical safety inspection that every race vehicle must undergo. Manufacturers and vendors were there to sign up drivers that were using their products and displaying the manufacturer’s name for contingency money. Tech day also allows fans to check out all of the latest products from the industry’s best vendors as they were set up displaying all of their goods.
The main event started in the harsh and unforgiving Mojave Desert early Saturday in Primm, 40 miles south of Las Vegas. Most UTV racers were up no later than 3 AM getting their cars ready to leave the starting line at 6 AM. With a record number of side by side teams signing up this year, over 100 UTV teams were split into 4 classes, Pro UTV, Pro Turbo Pro Unlimited and Sportsman. By all driver accounts, the track this year was harsh and took its toll on drivers and their machines immediately. The race course on Saturday was over 100 miles long requiring the top place finishers to make a grueling three full laps.
Mitch Guthrie Jr. and his Polaris RZR Turbo was a dominant combination when he took the lead from the poll and never looked back. Guthrie Jr.’s second consecutive race win was with very little challenge from anyone in his class as he and his team cruised across the finish line more than 20 minutes ahead of his closest competitor. The team of Derek and Jason Murray rolled in shortly after securing a second place position with Sven Ellstrom rounding out the podium in third place. Dodge Poelman finished first in the Pro UTV class followed by Kristen Matlock in second and Gunner Savage with third place.
The 2017 MINT 400 once again proves to be one of the top off-road race events in the nation and should be on every race fan’s bucket list. The MINT has it all, great people, great racing with a great history and is held in Las Vegas, how can it get better than that?