It’s billed as “The Great American Off Road Race” and made legendary by the tale of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. The Best in the Desert Mint 400 is a fabled race in the off-road community and one that many desperately want to add to their roster of wins and trophies. It’s easy to see why as it’s gone from its humble beginnings as a desert motorcycle race to a spectacle that screams Las Vegas, The Mint has truly made itself into more than just an open desert competition. It was certainly one for the record books with Monster drivers in the UTV Pro Turbo and Trick Truck classes who brought home Top Ten finishes in their purpose-built vehicles.
The Mint is a race that takes over Las Vegas when it rolls into town. It’s nearly treated as its own event but it’s one race in the Best in the Desert (BITD) series for 2017 and is the second one towards the season championships. Because of the work of BITD Founder, Casey Folks, and the Martelli Brothers (Who currently runs the Mint 400), the event has become so much more than just a race. Though, this year must have felt bittersweet due to the shocking passing of Folks earlier in 2017. While it probably feels like there is a hole with him missing from the start line, the race and series went on as Folks would have wanted them to as he was a racer himself.
The week starts off on March 2nd with Time Trials for the Trick Truck class to determine the start order. This is unlike many of the other classes where a draw is used instead of racing it out. This year, Monster had impressive and long-time racers under their belt with BJ Baldwin, Troy and Tim Herbst, and Cameron Steele. Casey Currie in a brand new Jeep Trick Truck also entered but did not run in the Time Trials. Baldwin would end up leading the Monster crew with a tenth-place start but not terribly far behind was Troy Herbst in fifteenth. Steele would end up with a twenty-sixth start while Tim Herbst would settle for a forty-first start. Currie, because he did not run, would end up the 68th and last starter for The Mint 400.
Afterwards, the Monster Energy Terrible Herbst team would come back with their own victory later that day in the Pit Crew Competition. While not a deciding factor for The Mint, it is crowd pleasing show that gives teams a chance to allow their pit crew a moment of glory and spotlight they don’t usually get. A portion of Fremont Street gets closed down just for this event and this year had eight Trick Truck teams that included Troy’s number 91 truck. In the end, Las Vegas’ own Terrible Herbst would sling their tires on the fastest and take home the golden jack.
Finally came race day on March 4th and The Mint is split into two races between the limited classes and unlimited classes. UTVs, including UTV Pro Turbo, are part of the limited class and would be the first racing vehicles of the day with the first pair racing off the start line with a six o’clock am start time. Monster Energy sponsored S3 Racing roared off the line at 6:19am with drivers Dustin Jones and Malcom Sneed. With a total race time of 7:39:58, they secured a Top Ten finish in UTV Pro Turbo.
Next was the big race, the unlimited classes with Trick Trucks roosting dirt off the start at one o’clock pm. Starting in tenth, BJ was off the line at 1:06pm with Troy taking off behind him at 1:08pm. Last man off the line was Currie at 1:35pm and with over sixty trucks ahead of him and his Jeep. With BJ starting tenth, he didn’t exactly have a clean path ahead of him but that didn’t stop him from making moves and driving right up to the leaders even before Lap Two. Troy Herbst had more time to make up but made quick work of it to start touching the Top Ten early in the day. With trucks breaking or taking extended stops for tires on the course, the Monster Energy drivers made pace and charged up to the Top Five with BJ leading the brigade and even fighting for Top Three by Race Mile 275.
It was close, but when the trucks crossed the finish line, BJ Baldwin and Troy Herbst would take home Top Five finishes in fourth and fifth respectively. BJ turned in a full race time of 5:38:24 while Troy was just over eleven-minutes back with a 5:49:20. Tim Herbst wasn’t too far behind in time but with a 5:56:53, he would take home a Top Ten finish in 8th place. Finally, Casey Currie, in the Jeep Trick Truck, would pull in as the last Monster Energy driver after 9:12:19 of race time to take 29th place and passing over thirty trucks to finish The Mint 400. We congratulate all the Monster Energy drivers for making and finishing The Mint 400. We’re already excited for next year with the outlook of being bigger and better than the last. With the finish we had this year, how can it not be?