2015 Mint 400
Las Vegas, NV
March 11th – March 15th
The Mint 400 is an off road desert race with more history than almost any race in the world. Started in 1967 as a way to promote the Mint Hotel and Casino, which was located in downtown Las Vegas, it quickly became known as the Great American Desert race. Racers from all over the world started bringing their trucks, dune buggies, motorcycles or whatever else they thought could be driven to victory lane. After a 20 year race hiatus, the Mint 400 was brought back to life in 2008 and quickly regained it’s popularity and is once again considered one of the toughest races in America.
The 2015 running of the Mint 400 brought hundreds of racers and thousands of spectators to sunny Las Vegas for a great weekend of racing. Events kicked off Wednesday with a vehicle procession from South Point Casino to Fremont Street where the off track action takes place. After the parade of race rigs it was time to kick off the Mint with a kick off party on famous Fremont Street that included the pit crew challenge qualifier.
Thursday morning started the time trails which were held south of Las Vegas outside of the town of Jean, NV. After the running of the time trials, racers as well as spectators met back up on Fremont Street for the Rugged Radios Meet and Greet and checked out some of the vendors and race vehicles that were on display. Next up was the crowning of the Miss Mint 400 which included a $5000 check for the 2015 Miss Mint winner Amy Scott. After the crowning was complete all teams that qualified for the pit crew challenge the night before battled it out for the fantastic trophy and bragging rights. Those rights and the win went to Steve Olliges and his crew.
Friday was all about tech inspections and contingency signup. With thousands of spectators and vendors as far as the eye could see, a steady parade of race vehicles made their way down Fremont Street heading 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. Friday allowed you to get photos and an up close look at your favorite driver’s race vehicle, it was like a big car show and parade all in one. There were product vendors with new products to check out as well as food truck vendors cooking up some great grub. And if that wasn’t enough, you’re on Fremont Street, lots of places to eat, shop and grab a beverage of your choosing.
Finally it was Saturday, race day! Racing in Jean, NV started off very early for the limited class with the first drivers leaving at 6am which included the UTV class. Side By Side’s have only been allowed to race the Mint 400 for a few years now but 2015 saw around 60 UTV’s entered which is outstanding! UTV teams came from all over America in hopes of being the UTV class winner but only one team can be the winner. The #1978 S3 Power Sports Can-Am drove by Dustin Jones and Shane Dowden was the team to take the finish line in the quickest time and become the overall 2015 UTV class winner. It took the #1978 a few seconds short of seven and a half hours to cross the finish line; grueling to say the least.
As a side note, the Mint 400 has 5 different spectator areas spread throughout the race course. This is one part of the event that was pretty ridiculous and no one seemed to have any idea of what was going on. Be sure to purchase the parking pass for the area you want to spectate at and be sure to understand that a VIP pass does not get you into areas 1-4 but only the start/finish line area even though it is more than the other passes. I was also told that I couldn’t purchase the needed parking pass on location so I never got to go into the spectating area that I had hoped to check out. I hope the parking pass situation improves for next year’s race.
In summation, the Mint 400 event is something every UTV race fan should attend. It’s a great event with great racing and it’s in Vegas, doesn’t get much better than that!