In what might be called a modern day version of the old Frontier 500 off-road race staged more than 20 years ago, the General Tire Vegas to Reno event is expected to draw more than 300 entries Aug. 16-18.
Scheduled to start in Beatty about 100 miles north of Las Vegas, the Best in the Desert event is expected to attract more than 300 entries including veteran competitor and automobile executive Steve Olliges of Las Vegas.
“Steve is a true ambassador for the sport of off-road racing,” said veteran Best in the Desert promoter Casey Folks, who is a 2012 inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame headquartered in Reno. “He not only sponsors off-road events, but also competes in one of the toughest classes in the sport.”
Olliges, the president of Team Ford in the northwest Las Vegas Valley, can be seen powering his Ford Raptor truck in the Trick Truck class. He finished third in Trick Truck and also third in the Trick Truck Championship in the race in 2011.
“He’s very important to the sport,” Folks added. “In fact, he’s an icon in one of the toughest classes in off-road racing. In Trick Truck, you better have a fat wallet and sponsors because the competition is tough. It’s very expensive and a driver really needs to be prepared.”
Folks said the Ford Raptor Trick Truck is a very costly proposition and requires extensive dedication both in funding and operating.
With a strong field and an equally-challenging course that measures 534 miles before ending in Dayton south of Reno, the entire field will have its hands full with a typically-tough Casey Folks-prepared layout.
As of Aug. 7, the field included 24 entries in Trick Truck; 29 in Class 1500; 24 in Class 1000; 18 in Class 7200; and 24 in Class 1900.
With all of its upgrades and modernizations, fans of the Vegas-to-Reno race have especially benefited through the changes.
Ron Solomon, director of sales for www.race-dezert.com , is instrumental in monitoring the race and giving fans at home the chance to follow the race on –line.
“It’s much easier to follow an off-road event now because we have utilized existing technology and made it user friendly for people at home to follow with the purpose of growing the off-road racing audience,” said Solomon, who lives in Southern California. “In addition, we have will live streaming video of the start and finish of the race.”
Solomon said Race-Dezert has been instrumental in modernizing the technology for the sport.
“It took us time to develop this program,” explained Solomon. “One day with help from our sponsors, hopefully we will one day be able to provide live in-car cameras. That’s the hope of we’re taking all of this in the future.
“Our mission is to grow and promote the sport of off-road racing.”
The event calendar kicks off Wednesday Aug. 15 with registration for time trials for Class 1400 and 1500 in the Scottsdale Ballroom of Aliante Station. Time Trials will begin at 1:30 p.m. at an undisclosed location.
The time trials of the event are especially important considering that they set the field with the front-runner able to capitalize on clear air during the race. The day concludes with a welcome party from 7-9 p.m. at Cabo’s Bar on the casino floor.
Folks pointed out that Team Ford also puts up the $1,000 for the top qualifier pole award while also providing a beautiful trophy.
On Aug. 16, the hectic schedule continues with drivers/riders registration from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the Scottsdale Ballroom. A mandatory driver/riders/pit crew meeting is set for 5 p.m.
Staging begins at 5:15 a.m. Aug. 17 in Beatty; with a barbeque dinner presented by the Grand Sierra Resort and awards ceremony set from 6-8 p.m. at the Grand Sierra Resort Convention Center in Reno. An after race party is set from 8-11 p.m. in the Wild West Dance Room of the Grand Sierra Resort Convention Center.
Other Las Vegans competing in the General Tire Vegas to Reno off-road race include B.J. Baldwin in Trick Truck; brothers Tim and Troy Herbst, also in Trick Truck; iand Rob MacCachren, also entered in Trick Truck with Steve Sourapas of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Further information regarding the event can be found by visiting www.bitd.com.
Prominent Las Vegas automobile dealer Steve Olliges will power his Trick Truck in the annual General Tire Vegas to Reno off-road event Aug. 16-18.
By: Mike Henle