Vegas to Reno: The Terrible Herbst Way


Day 5: Return to Shop

The week is over, the experience is complete. We are back in Southern California, after a long drive back from Reno, Nevada.
REWA351Terrible Herbst Motorsports had an excellent showing at the race. All three trucks finished, with the two Trick Trucks finishing in the top 10. Even more exciting is the 6100 truck.
The truck was against all odds; new truck, new driver, and first off-road race. It goes to show the quality in the product that Terrible Herbst Motorsports produces.
The trucks are back at the shop ready for the next step. The trucks will begin to be stripped down. Motors and transmissions will be sent out to be gone through. Everything on the truck will be gone through and inspected.
REWA452Once the trucks are torn apart and everything is gone through they will be put back together. They will then be prepped for the next race.
The team will be racing the Baja 1000 later this year. We wish them all the best luck. If we have seen anything from this trip, we know this team will come prepared and make their way to the front of the pack.
I would like to personally thank Terrible Herbst Motorsports and BF Goodrich for providing the opportunity to be apart of an experience like this. It was something that I will never forget, and hope everyone who loves off-road now has a better inside look at what it takes to desert race, and the excitement of chasing the truck during the race.
Don’t forget to check out the photo gallery below for even more pictures from this week with Terrible Herbst Motorsports racing the Best in the Desert, Vegas to Reno.

Photo gallery



Day 4: Race Day

Race day is upon us. The test is finally here, all the effort in the shop and testing, it all comes down to today.

REWA350The day started before the sun came up as the trucks where loaded up from their slumber in the parking structure at the Suncoast Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The trucks were loaded and the trip north to Beatty, Nevada and the starting line.

The almost two hour drive north put us off the side of the road in the staging area. The trucks where unloaded, and the final prep began.

Ice and water where add to the truck drink coolers. The drivers began to suit up and get ready for the adventure of the day. John Tondo said “No pregame gitters, you get used to this after doing it for so long. It becomes just like any other sport.”


Tire pressure was being checked and adjusted, lug nuts were also being torqued down. With everything prepped the chase trucks departed to Pit 1 Springdale.

REWA359The chase teams do not see the trucks off the starting line, they head off early to setup pit and get ready for anything that may of happened in the first 32 miles of the course.

The team gets there early and preps tires and the jack. The hurry up and wait theme of the trip continues. It was about 30 minutes before the lead truck came through the pits. The number 19 truck driven Larry Roseler, came through the pits a couple spots ahead of where they started.

Not to long after the number 91 truck came through with an “all is good,” on the radio. The rush was on to clean, load everything back up, and get back on the road to the next pit. The next pit was roughly 60 miles away.


The 19 truck cleared Pit 3 Cottontail, before we arrived in Chase 1. Off Road Xtreme along with Chase 1 followed the 91 truck the rest of the race. We hoped to never see the 19 truck again until Reno at the finish line.

REWA377Chase 1’s crew consisted of Jeff and Sharon Lewis, and Barry Beacham. Jeff and Barry have plenty of racing experience under their belts. Jeff has won this same race, racing on a similar course to the one today.

The drive was quick, and the rush was on to get to the next pit before the truck came by. Chase 2 was just leaving Pit 3 as we pulled in.

The truck made up more time and continued to push forward, with another clear message on the radio and a clean visual, it was time to pack back up and head 16 miles to Pit 4 Goldfield.

REWA399Pit 4 would be the first scheduled pit stop for the truck. Fuel and new rear tires were given to the truck.

The 91 truck came in, the team went to work. Jacking the rear of the truck up, changing tires and refueling. The truck was in and out before you knew it.

The pit stop took one minute and two seconds. The team was excited to get the truck in and out. The 19 truck earlier had a similar pit stop earlier.

The abused tires sat in the pit and gave everyone just a glimpse of what was happening out on the course. The tires off the 19 truck and the 91 truck varied in abuse, with the pit crew stating that the tires can show how a driver is racing the truck.


The pit crew at Pit 4 was staying at the location and waiting for the Herbst 6100 class truck. The crew at Pit 4 was also in race suits, for safety.

REWA393The 6100 truck is doing amazing so far in the race. The truck passed ten vehicles by the first pit. The new truck and driver are doing great on their maiden voyage.

Leaving Pit 4 it was a short five mile trip to Pit 5 Klondike. Once arriving the pit next to ours a 1500 class buggy came through with no rear breaks.

A blown tire, and a rear bump lost all the rear caliper, and the break line was cut. A near by team came to the rescue and with break line cap.

Herbst race truck number 91 had a flat tire from Pit 4 that they changed on the course. At Pit 5 the flat tire, that was now in the spare tire carrier, was changed out.

REWA408Upon inspection it was a puncture to the tread. Just another peak into the conditions on the course. Time once again to load the truck up and head to Pit 7.

Pit 7, Millers, was at race mile 249, almost half way through the race. The trucks are doing well and the team hopes to continue to make up time and positions every pit.

The chase experience gets your adrenaline going. It breaks up a otherwise very long drive. The continuous stop and go, change of scenery make the chase very exciting.


The chatter on the radios and constant communication with the trucks giving race mile updates, and letting the chase teams know everything is going well. The communication between trucks relaying times and positions so everyone stays on the same page.

REWA405There has to be the constant communication between the chase team and the co-drivers so that everyone understands at all times what is going on. Communication is key in chasing desert off-road racing.

The 91 truck is continuing to make up time at race mile 249. The 19 truck sits currently in third position on corrected time.

The chase team let the drivers know that they are doing a great job and continue to keep up the great work. The drivers acknowledged the complement and will keep the pedal to the floor. Leaving pit we were on our way to pit 9 for a tire change, refueling, and a driver change.


Troy Herbst would be getting in the number 91 truck and taking over the truck from Ryan Arciero. John Tondro will stay in the truck and continue to navigate for Herbst. The 19 truck had Tim Herbst and Todd Gorsuch in as co-driver.

REWA424The driver change was completed, but the 91 truck’s drinker system was not working. When Ryan Arciero got out of the vehicle he immediately requested something to drink. Water was also poured on him to cool him down.

Co-driver Tondro was given water and something to eat. He will continue to navigate the rest of the race. Tory Herbst was now in the driver seat, and looking to continue to make time up.

The Herbst team pit at Pit 9 had no shortage of food. The bbq was going, with sausages and a large piece of pork slow cooking. This pit was surely not going hungry.


The half way point of the race is over. The chase team will only be stoping at two more pits over the rest of the race, with a total of five remaining pits.

Trucks are fueled and ready to continue to battle the clock and the Nevada desert. We were able to catch up with Ryan Arciero at Pit 10.

When asked how hard the race is, Arciero said “I challenge anyone to come out and do this, then say that off-roading is not a sport.”


“You have to put everything you have into it. It is like a six hour spin class while doing weights,” Arciero mentioned about the physical nature of desert racing.

He was feeling a lot better after he was able to get some food and more liquids in him. Arciero said he was starting to feel the effects of dehydration with the drinker not working in the truck.

“My calves started cramping while braking, J.T. (John Tondro) was experiencing similar symptoms,” Arciero stated. He got on the radio as soon as the truck passed through Pit 10 to remind Tondro to keep eating the gel they have in the truck, and get any liquids at the next pit.


The chase team left Pit 10 to head 89 miles to Pit 13, the last pit Chase 1 would be stopping at. After this pit the chase team will not see the truck until the finish line.

On the long trips between pits there was plenty of reminiscing on old races, and past experiences. Past trips to Baja, and bring back the memories that got them so attached to the sport.

The 91 truck is running great at this point in the race. It came into Pit 13, Top Gun, not needing anything just slowing down to get some water bottles handed to J.T. The truck is sounding great to make the final push toward the finish line.


Through 468 miles the 91 truck is running strong. The truck has been battling from the back after starting 43rd. Arciero said “Never give up, doesn’t matter where you start, you battle!”


When asked how it feels to be out of the truck and watch it go by now Ryan Arciero said “Now that I’m feeling better, I want to get back in.” He is happy the way they performed when he was in the truck, and wants to continue to see Troy Herbst push the truck can continue to knock seconds off.

An hour drive to the finish line was the last haul for Chase 1 and be there as the trucks cross the finish line. There was an update on the class 6100 truck, an all clear, everything is good went over the radio. The truck is approximately 100 miles back of the 91 truck but is in 6th physical position in the class.


The experience has been amazing so far. To be able to see from the inside what it takes to run a racing program like the Terrible Herbst Motorsports is incredible. There are many things that you do not think of when you follow the race from afar.


The logistics, fuel, parts, tools, and everything else that makes a successful program. There is a reason why the racing program Jerry Herbst setup so many years ago is still around and being as competitive as they are.

The 19 truck finished the race first in physical position while the 91 truck came in a bit later. The Terrible Herbst Motorsports trucks finished overall in 5th and 7th place. The 91 truck made an incredible charge through the field from starting in 43rd.

Arciero said “It is great to see the truck finish were it did. We battled all day and made up a lot of ground. It was a great day overall for the team.” The team finished in the top 10. A great performance.


The overall experience for the day was amazing. Everything that was experienced today was amazing. To be able to experience the race from this side gives a new appreciation for the chase teams. Without the chase teams the drivers would not be able to do what they do best, drive. Be sure to check out even more pictures from race day in the gallery below.

Photo gallery



Day 3: Tech and Contingency

For those that have never been to a Tech and Contingency day, the easiest way to classify it is, a zoo. There is so much going on at Tech and Contingency for not only the racers but for the fans coming to check out these trucks up close and personal.


A weaving line of off-road vendors lined the parking lot at the Aliante Casino Hotel in North Las Vegas, Nevada. This gave the vendors a chance to talk to every race team, and for the race teams to communicate with the vendors or pick up any last minutes items.

There is no order in which the trucks go down contingency row, it is a first come first serve basis. The teams class or status means nothing.

Tech and Contingency day is for every race team that is planning on leaving the starting line tomorrow. With over 330 entries into this years Vegas to Reno race, not only is it the largest entry of any Best in the Desert race ever, but it creates chaos in the hotel parking lot.

Long line of trucks, parading through contingency.

Arriving with Terrible Herbst Motorsports and it was clear a chaotic day was about to unfold. Parking a semi truck with trailer is not an easy thing to do, but even more so when the streets are already lined with race vehicles, trucks and trailers.


On top of everything happening with the day already Las Vegas decided to be 99 degrees and humid as thunderclouds in the distance would tease the crowd all day. Racing veterans and teams that have done this multiple times, try and get in and out as quick as possible.

The Herbst trucks zig zagged their way through the vendors, stopping and talking with vendors and other teams. Contingency day gives all the teams a chance to check out not only their competitors trucks but also the race vehicles of other classes.


John Tondro found a class 10 buggy that he had previously built over 5 years ago only a couple vehicles back in line. He said “It is nice to see the vehicle again after so many years.” The new owners of the vehicle were very excited to meet the man that built the buggy and commended him on it.


The large part of contingency enables the vendors and teams to make sure that if the truck is running the vendors product, a sticker or decal is on the truck. Some trucks already have vendor decals while some just need to add a few.

One Terrible Herbst Motorsports largest sponsors, KC Lites, was glad to help out with a couple missing stickers on the front of the 91 truck. With the Herbst team having three vehicles in the race the process was slow moving, but intriguing at the same time.

The last vehicle to go through contingency was the all-new class 6100 truck built by the “YAY-Team” as Jason Montes explained. The truck continued to grab a lot of attention from fans and other teams.


The truck was positioned at the King Shocks booth more the majority of the day before it had it turn down contingency row. This truck will surely be one that everyone will be watching come race day.


Once the trucks make it down contingency row, they make it to Technical Inspection (Tech). This is a time for the Best in the Desert officials to make sure everything is correct, compliant and safe.

Tondro explains “The officials look to make sure race suits do not have any holes, helmets are current, as well as the trucks have their required safety equipment. The trucks are checked to make sure their lights, horn, and many other things.”

Tech inspection is probably the quickest part of the day. Once the officials deem the truck to be safe, they apply the 2015 Vegas to Reno Technical Inspection sticker to the driver A-pilar to confirm it has passed inspections.

The team getting the trucks and gear checked during technical inspection.



One part that keeps the drivers safe during the race are their Impact by Mastercraft Safety helmets. When asked about them Tondo said “I have worn other helmets but none are as comfortable as the Impact. They are great.”


Many of the drivers grabbed new lenses for their helmet or a new shade to better suit the conditions they’ll be facing. Each lens has a different use and visibility.

Now the trucks are cleared to race, they make one final stop at the Best in the Desert radio both to let the organization know what radio frequency they will be running on for the race.

Once the trucks made it through inspection it was time for lunch. The team went inside and had lunch with Jerry Herbst. Jerry is the one the got the team started, while his sons Tim and Troy have the reigns now.


Later in the day there is a drivers meeting that goes over everything for the race the next day. It will announce any changes and current course conditions.

This years race does have some water, from recent rain. Herbst driver of the 19 truck, Larry Roeseler said “There is an area of standing water on the course. BITD said that you could go through it or take the cautious route to the left.”

Once back at the hotel the race trucks where topped off with fuel, to be ready in the morning. The team had to make quick work as an incoming thunderstorm started to come through.


The trucks were topped off and pulled into the parking structure, setting off almost every alarm. The team continued to go over everything, making they were not missing anything for the race.


Once the days events where taken care of it was time to sit down and have a team dinner. Working out any last minute details on departure times for the morning and making sure everything was taken care of. There was never a dull moment at the table.

No pre-race superstitions, just a team that really enjoys being out of the shop and enjoying the calm before the storm. Tomorrow will be a very exciting, eventful, long day as we ride in the Terrible Herbst Motorsports Chase 1 truck.

Make sure you check back tomorrow for updates throughout the race on how the trucks are doing and a full recap of the experience of a chase team. Check out the photo gallery for more pictures from today’s Tech and Contingency.

Photo gallery



Day 2: Time Trials

Today started by heading back to Jean, Nevada for time trials. Drivers registered at the Gold Strike Casino Hotel. Once registered it was time to take the team to the drive lake bed to setup camp for the day.


The Terrible Herbst Motorsports team setup camp and unloaded the trucks. More and more teams rolled in to the area, creating a make shift pit location in the middle of the desert.

With base camp setup, the hurry up and wait time started. Camp was set up with two hours to kill before time trials started.

Friends and fellow racers stopped by the pit to catch up. A routine drivers meeting occurred before staging took place.


The drivers meeting gives everyone the chance to hear the details for the days events. The over view of the qualifying loop was explained by Casey Folks of BITD, and instructed the drivers to stay on the course or be penalized 15 seconds.

Folks also let everyone know that they will be announcing something new and exciting for the 2016 Best in the Desert season. The announcement will be coming tomorrow around 1pm pst. We will be in the press conference and bring you the latest news from BITD.


The roar of horsepower rumbled through the desert as the trucks began to get fired up and driven to staging. Once in line the trucks began a one lap parade lap to get an idea of what the qualifying course was going to be like.


Terrible Herbst Motorsports were gad the time trials had been moved to this location, as past locations did not suit their trucks all to well. This location gave the trucks a closer to race day feel than the “paperclip” they referred to on the other side of Jean.

Qualifying started once all drivers had completed the parade lap. The Terrible Herbst Motorsports number 91 truck driven by Ryan Arciero and co-driven by John Tondro. The number 19 truck driven by Larry Roeseler and co driven by Wade Weaver.


The 91 truck crossed the finish line and was experiencing lack of power, with the ability to not completely open up the truck. Tondro said “We would put it into third gear and it just did not want to go any faster.”

The team looked at it quickly back at camp and decided to wait to replace it until at the Herbst Las Vegas shop. The computer showed the truck running at 11 volts for the majority of qualifying.

An alternator or battery issue was the quick diagnosis until it could be taken apart at the shop. This was a better overview than what they originally thought was a motor issue.


There is something hotter this time around in the desert and it is not the Vegas heat. Terrible Herbst Motorsports is bringing out something new and exciting to the 6100 class.


In a class that is new already, they are bringing something that can change the class completely. The 6100 class currently is required to run a factory engine. The class currently runs versions of the LS motor and the Ford 6.2-L motor that is found in the Raptor.

The Herbst have something that no one else has and that some people are crying about. Terrible Herbst Motorsports is bring a 6100 class Toyota powered truck to this year’s BITD Vegas to Reno race.

The truck sat on the trailer for today and will be on the ground at Tech and Contingency tomorrow, but if it is any look into the future with the amount of interest the truck got at qualifying, this truck will definitely ruffle some feathers.


The truck uses the TRD Tundra motor, which does create about 70 less horsepower than the class median now. The key with this truck is that it is about 500 pounds lighter than the other trucks.

Terrible Herbst Motorsports is very excited to introduce this truck and to be able to compete against the rest of the 6100 class. The truck will not be racing for points this race so it does not interfere with current point standings. It dons the 4714, and in a class of its own.

The team is excited to see how the truck will do against the rest of the class come race day. The 6100 class may just have to put up with a new motor, and realize Toyota has something to offer to off-road racing.


Todd Gorsuch said “ We will go back to the shop and swap transmissions and driveshafts in both trucks. Most teams will do this and gears, but since we run 11.5 inch gears we do not need too.”

The team headed to what they nicknamed “The Museum,” because it holds plenty of old Herbst vehicles and boats. As soon as you walked in the garage the name held up as the vehicles there had plenty of history attached to them.

Some of the vehicles that are located inside the Herbst 'Museum'

The maintenance that is required when racing is usually not realized or even thought about from spectators. The trucks require plenty of maintenance to make sure they are running in tip-top shape.


Ryan Arciero, driver of the 91 Trick Truck, said “How the truck leaves the shop is 70-percent of how the truck will perform.” It is the team behind the scenes that makes the drivers job easier.

Most people when they get their transmission replaced in their daily driver it takes a shop a good part of the day to be able to swap them out. This team was able to do it in an hour.

Not only was the process fast, they did it on the ground; no special lifts, or tools. The team has two chase trucks and each truck carried the tools and parts that are needed for each Trick Truck.


Each person on the team had their own job to make everything run like a well oiled machine. Racier said “You have to have a great group of guys on a team to make everything work correctly.”

Guys under the truck, prepping the parts, whipping down the truck, everything that needed to be done was covered. The number 91 truck saw a little more attention than the 19 truck as it had the alternator replaced.

The filters were also checked on the truck to make sure there was no damage. The 91 truck was cleared and the apparent problem from qualifying was fixed.

A quick trip up a side street along the Vegas Strip confirmed the gremlin looked to be taken care of. The trucks where loaded back up on trailer and it was off to check in at the next hotel, have a nice meal and get ready for tomorrows, Tech and Contingency day.


Qualifying results were published with the Herbst 19 truck starting 14th and the 91 truck qualified 43. The trucks will be ready come race day.

The top 15 qualifiers are listed below:

  1. Bryce Menzies
  2. Justin Lofton
  3. Eduardo Laguna
  4. BJ Baldwin
  5. Carlos Apdaly Lopez
  6. Jason Voss
  7. CJ Hutchins
  8. Rob MacCachren
  9. Shawn Croll
  10. Sam Berri
  11. Ross Mattox
  12. Dale Dondel
  13. Cameron Steele
  14. Tim Herbst
  15. Gary Weyhrich

Come back and check out that happens at Tech and Contingency day tomorrow. We will be out there with Terrible Herbst Motorsports once again getting a perspective you will only see with Off Road Xtreme. Also, make sure sure you check out the complete photo gallery with more pictures from time trials today.


Day 1: Travel Day

This week we get privilege of spending the race week with the Terrible Herbst Motorsports. We will be following them through all the sites and sounds of this years Best in the Desert’s (BITD) Vegas to Reno race.


The Vegas to Reno race is the longest race in the United States at 545 miles. As of this morning there were 333 race teams registered to take on the brutal Nevada desert.

The list of entries includes 39 Trick Trucks, 24 Open Class 1500 Cars, 50 UTVs, 39 Ironmen Motorcycles and Quads, and 24 Class 6100 Spec-Engine Trick Trucks.

Through BF Goodrich, we were put in contact with Terrible Herbst Motorsports to get an inside view of everything that goes on during the race. This is a once in a lifetime experience that we are happy to be able to share.


Anyone into off-roading dreams of being able to own, let alone run a Trick Truck and be as successful as the Herbst team. If you have ever wonder what it takes or what goes on during race week this coverage will be for you.


The highlight of the week will be race day. We will be with the team in one of their chase trucks, seeing what goes into making sure their Trick Truck makes it across the finish line. The off-road world knows more about the drivers than the people behind the scenes that enable the drive to do what they do best.

The adventure began Tuesday afternoon, meeting the team at Herbst Smith Fabrication in Huntington Beach, California, where we would be riding along with them out to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Upon arrival it was evident that the team was in gear loading up the vehicles with the required supplies for the week. Box trucks, chase trucks, and support vehicles all getting loaded up, ensuring nothing was to be left behind.


We were able to get a quick tour of the shop before having to get the wheels on the road out to Las Vegas. Twelve individual car bays were filled with projects and prerunners. There were two empty bays, which held the race trucks which had already departed before our arrival.

On the other side of the wall an area that they called the fabrication room held all the necessary tools for creating these high powered machines. The shop had rooms for everything. A room to work on shocks, transmissions, electrical, gears, and anything else you could think of.

There was a room for parts to be cleaned in as the trucks would only be disassembled and reassembled in their bay. After the race the trucks would be taken apart and cleaned in this room.

Individual rooms for the many different parts of the trucks. Transmission room (left) and supply room (right)

Once the nickel tour was done, the bags were finished being loaded, it was on the road to Sin City to get some shut eye before time trials in the morning.


We will be covering everything that is going on during the whole event. The weeks schedule is laid out as follows:

  • Day 1: Travel Day
  • Day 2: Time Trials
  • Day 3: Tech and Contingency
  • Day 4: Race Day
  • Day 5: Returning Home

Make sure you come back and check for our daily updates with everything that is going on with the BITD Vegas to Reno race.

Article Sources

About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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