January 24, 2019
Hunter S. Thompson wrote about it in 1971. One of my first experiences as a member of a rag-tag off-road race pit/chase crew was the Mint 400 in 1983. We had contingency and tech inspection on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, and the whole deal felt like a giant parade of rough-and-ready awesomeness. This was back when race cars had hand-painted stripes, the air smelled like VP race gas, and everyone still smoked cigarettes. The drivers wore satin jackets with cool patches and half the girls rocked Dolphin shorts. Am I waxing nostalgic yet? Yeah, probably. "Bikes have always been the gateway to off-roading. Most off-road racers got their start on a bike somewhere in their childhood. They are still the most affordable way to off-road. Motocross, supercross, desert racing, hill climbing, and free riding used to be more directly connected. Years ago if you rode a bike, you pretty much rode everything. We want The Mint 400 to be the catalyst to reconnect off-road bike culture in America. We welcome friends, families, pros, women, and industry veterans to all come be a part of The Mint,” stated Mint 400 CEO, Matt Martelli. The early years of The Mint 400 were defined by the true daredevil spirit of racing and the bike racers were kings. Starting five wide alongside trucks and buggies, motorcycles dominated The Mint 400 in the early days and beat the 4-wheel vehicles by two to four hours typically. Yamaha and Husqvarna have been the only two manufactures to win The Mint 400 overall. Anyway, the good old days are here again. After a twenty year hibernation, the Mint 400 was brought back to life by SNORE, and then sold to the Martelli Bros. who partnered with off-road legend Casey Folks and the Best in The Desert Racing Association. They’ve made a lot of changes to modernize the event, but are also looking back to the heritage of this classic event for ways to make it more fun, safe and awesome. This year, something we are particularly stoked on, the Mint 400 will have motorcycle classes. We didn’t have quite enough time to put together our team and race in 2019, but you can count us in next year. We’ve got a stable of crusty XT500’s and a Sportster made out of left over parts from last year’s NORRA 1000 race. We’re gonna try and get out to Vegas and set up during contingency, so if you are racing or spectating, come by and say hi! At the this year's Mint 400, top motorcycle classes will race three laps, while the Ironman, Vintage and other select classes will race two. The green flag will drop at the Official Mint 400 Primm Valley Start/Finish Line just after sunrise and the race will end grand prix style. “We want to give the bike racers the respect they deserve. They are the unsung heroes of our sport. They literally risk life and limb to be the fastest in the desert. We will be including the bikes in our digital and TV coverage as well as live stream coverage on Saturday. We’re thrilled to be bringing back this important part of The Mint 400’s history,” stated Mint 400 COO, Josh Martelli. The addition of bikes and a second day of racing is expected to draw an even greater pool of race teams and thousands more spectators, once again solidifying the Mint 400 as the biggest and best off-road race in North America. Get more information or sign up to race here: MINT400 -Bill 2019 Mint 400 Race Details for Motorcycles: If you are interested in racing the Mint 400 this year, here’s the scoop: Multiple classes will compete on a 80-mile singletrack course designed to challenge even the most seasoned desert moto racers. The event is expected to attract motorcycle racers from around the planet to battle it out for a chance to etch their name into the history books alongside the greats such as Casey Folks, Jack Johnson, J.N. Roberts, and Max Switzer. Included in the race are two vintage classes 1980 – 1990, and 1979 and older, as well as desert classes including pro motorcycle, expert motorcycle, amateur motorcycle, Ironman and newly minted father & son, women and relay team classes. How many miles is the race course?