ORR SilverState

Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno: Event Preview

In a dark and extremely dusty qualifying for the start position of the 2020 Maxxis Tires Casey Folks Vegas to Reno presented by FOX Racing Shocks nearly 100 vehicles came out to secure their starting spot through the off-road luminary. With over 500 miles of challenging terrain ahead of them, and most of the biggest names in the sport making the journey, the annual trek from one of Nevada’s largest cities to the other is always a crown jewel event on the schedule. WA new primary event sponsor over the offseason may have changed the track signage slightly, and the continued restrictions on large gatherings in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic have also eliminated contingency and spectator areas, but winning Vegas to Reno goes near the top of any desert racer’s resume.

Of all the vehicles, Cameron Steele has out-qualified the stacked field of competitors. His experienced racing and pre-running in extremely dusty conditions at night paid off as he was able to best the field in his Geiser Brothers built 2 Wheel drive trophy truck. Directly behind him is Bryce Menzies in his Huseman built 4 Wheel drive trophy truck which won Vegas to Reno last year showcasing Bryce’s growing race acumen as well as the incredible acceleration of the 4 wheel drive platform. On a dominating role, Luke McMillin qualified 3rd position in his Racer built 2 Wheel drive trophy truck. Luke won The Mint 400, and Silver State 300. Kyle Jergensen in the new Brenthal qualified 4th and mad man Robby Gordon qualified 5th in his new 4 wheel drive self built “Unicorn”. In 6th is Jason Voss, who has won this race multiple times and loves high-speed races like this.  Seventh the “G.O.A.T” in his tried and true Geiser Brothers built 2 Wheel drive Trophy Truck. The dynamic duo of Kevin Thompson & Harley Letner are the sleepers in this class, everybody knows how fast Harley is, but Kevin Thomspon is no slouch. He put on a driving clinic at the Silver State 300 showing his years of racing pavement transfer over, especially in races like Vegas to Reno which consists of hundreds of miles of rally-style roads. Behind them is Ryan Arciero who had a big breakthrough win last year at the Baja 500 adding some extra wind to his sails. Both Ryan and the team of Kevin Thompson & Harley Letener are driving Herbst Smith built Trophy Trucks with the relatively new Joe Gibbs Big Block engine package which likely gives them the advantage at top speeds. Rounding out the top 10 is the team of Tracy Graf & Justin “Bean” Smith who is known for their consistently fast and steady pace. It’s going to be a long, hot, treacherous race and remember it’s a timed race. As we have seen in the past the team that crosses the finish line first isn’t necessarily the winner, it’s the team that has the best time start to finish. The 100+ temperatures are going to be a big factors as is dust. Anybody could win this race and it will be exciting to see if this race is again dominated by and 4 Wheel drive vehicle with this race definitely favors due to the nature of the course is relatively flat. Stay tuned to Off-Road Racer for race updates!

2020 Vegas to Reno Qualifying Results:

  1. Cameron Steele
  2. Bryce Menzies
  3. Luke McMillin
  4. Jonathan Brenthel / Kyle Jergensen
  5. Robby Gordon
  6. Jason Voss
  7. Rob MacCachren
  8. Kevin Thompson / Harley Letner
  9. Ryan Arciero
  10. Tracy Graf / Justin “Bean” Smith

The announced entry list of 383 teams will make this year’s Vegas to Reno the largest ever, and some of the sport’s top classes will see overflowing entry lists. The 35 Trick Trucks and 40 Class 6100 trucks on the line will be impressive enough, but the three professional UTV classes will combine for well over 100 of the entries this weekend. The high water mark is 61 UTV Turbo teams, led by Phil Blurton, who will chase his fourth straight event victory this weekend.

ORR SilverState
ORR SilverState

Any point-to-point event like Vegas to Reno features a major logistical challenge for every team taking part. This year’s route will feature 13 pit areas along the way, with neither air nor ground support from the race teams allowed on the course for racers outside of those areas. The largest gap between stops is 52.2 miles, between the first pit at Omni Station and the second pit at Bonnie Claire, while the charge from the final pit at Weeks to the finish line at Dayton will be the third longest stretch of the event at 46.6 miles.

This year’s Maxxis Tires Casey Folks Vegas to Reno presented by FOX will see the first motorcycle off the starting line in Beatty leave at 5:45AM PT on Friday, and the first truck will take off at 10AM PT. The finish line in Dayton should see its first bike in the middle of the afternoon and first truck in the early evening, and will close to all competitors on Saturday morning.

Chris Leone

A veteran of the motorsports industry (both physical and digital), Chris Leone contributes coverage of race events of all types to Off-Road Racer. Elsewhere, he is the marketing/communications manager at iRacing, media director of Jim Beaver's Down & Dirty Show, and a frequent contributor to UTV Underground.

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