Desert racing in North America has been on hold since the completion of March’s Mint 400, but the sport’s long-awaited return is finally upon us. The VT Construction Silver State 300 will see the return of Best in the Desert racing for the first time since February’s King Shocks Laughlin Desert Classic, with the event’s deepest entry list in history and a brand new championship all part of the proceedings.
To encourage entries and provide more drivers with a points title to race for, BITD created the Adventure Championship Series, or COVID-19 Championship, to comprise the remainder of the 2020 season. The new points chase will operate alongside BITD’s existing championships, which will be awarded as normal in spite of this year’s pandemic-related rescheduling. This weekend’s 303-mile point-to-point race will be the first of four events on the abbreviated calendar, which wraps up in October with the long-awaited return of the BlueWater Desert Challenge in Parker, Arizona.
Alongside the extra title chase, SCORE’s decision to postpone the Baja 500 has bolstered this weekend’s entry list in a big way, with regulars like Bryce Menzies, BJ Baldwin, Wayne and Kristen Matlock, and Luke and Dan McMillin adding one more BITD race than usual to their respective calendars. The premier Trick Truck, 1500, and 6100 classes will combine for 66 entries, while the top three UTV classes will boast more than 90 racers, including an impressive 48 in the UTV Turbo class. All told, more than 270 racers are set to be on site, a massive leap forward from the previous event record of 227.
After finding himself without a race-ready vehicle before last year’s Silver State 300, Justin Lofton took top honors in Jeff Terzo’s Trick Truck, helping Terzo to win last year’s championship. The three-time Mint 400 winner will be back in his own ride looking to defend the victory this year, with Kyle Jergensen (Class 6100), Phil Blurton (UTV Turbo), and Seth Quintero (UTV Production) among the other 2019 winners looking to go back to back against an expanded field.
The biggest difference between this year’s event and last year’s, outside of the influx of top drivers, will be schedule and protocol changes designed to promote social distancing. From a smaller event expo without promotional activities, to online contingency and driver’s meetings, to handing out awards immediately on race day after the completion of the event, it’ll be a very different-looking event from what we’ve traditionally seen in the sport.
The Best in the Desert VT Construction Silver State 300 kicks off on Thursday with time trials for the premier Trick Truck, 1500, and 6100 classes. Registration, tech, and contingency will take place on Friday, while motorcycles will start at 5:30AM on Saturday and cars and trucks will begin racing at 11:30AM. Following the Silver State 300, the season continues with the Maxxis Tires Casey Folks Vegas to Reno, the longest point-to-point desert race in the United States, on August 12-15.
Images via The Mint 400