During the 2016 Mint 400, thousands come from all over to see their favorite teams duke it out in Nevada. No matter their class, they all run on four wheels, and have all heard the tales – or experienced for themselves – just how brutal the Mojave Desert can really be.
But we’ll discuss the race in due time; for now, let’s talk about the second-most thrilling day of the entire Mint extravaganza: Contingency Day. We at Off Road Xtreme took extra care to set our alarms early, because to miss any portion of Contingency would be a sad thing indeed.
From the hot babes to the sweet cars to the top names in the desert racing game, this was an all-day affair that stretched over five blocks of high-traffic, Las Vegas pavement. Let’s dive in and see what some of the highlights were, shall we?
The procession started, as it always does, at the corner of South Las Vegas Boulevard (aka The Strip) and Fremont Street. The official start time was at 8am, but we didn’t see the racers really start piling up until about an hour later. The explanation for this was best described by one spectator, who said, “Yeah, they’re all late because last night they went partying. Now they’re all hungover and slept past their alarms!”
Walking through Fremont Street during Contingency was like walking down Disneyland’s Main Street in a lot of ways. The people push through all directions, towing kids or significant others behind them, while on either side there sits yet another object grabbing attention. Food and drink are easily accessible from a variety of sources, of course.
But Contingency will always surpass Disneyland, if for no other reason than the opportunity to talk to these men and women who are putting it all on the line, betting that their intellect, experience, innate skill, preparation, or all four will bring them victory.
Take a guy like Josh McGuckin, a Colorado resident who joined with his friends to form Project Baja. Project Baja was all about taking a 1970 VW Beetle and transforming it into a racer, a job which was easier said than done. “When we bought this car, it was an all-original, clean car with gas receipts in the glove box,” he stated. “We built it and caged it in 2012, and did our first major races in 2014.”
McGuckin admitted this was his first time being at the Mint 400, but we could not detect much in the way or nerves or anxiety. “The vehicle will definitely be able to finish the race,” he said. “It’s pretty well prepared, so provided there are no hiccups along the way, we’re pretty confident we will do fine. I think it’s going to be a really exciting atmosphere. It’s going to be really fun.”
Near the opposite end of the spectrum would be a guy like Brett Sourapas who, at just 19 years old, is already at the top of the food chain as far as classes are considered: Trick Truck (or Trophy Truck, as SCORE refers to them), up from his previous class, Trophy Light. The teenager is now a sophomore, both in college and in the Mint, so to speak.
“My attitude last year was, if there was one race to win that year, it was the Mint 400,” said Sourapas. “This is where all the competition is, where everyone wants to come out and win. Overall, the Mint 400 like the Baja 1000 of the United States.”
Asked about what the toughest section was for him, Sourapas stated, “I’d say the toughest section was getting up in the mountains on the last lap. It got all chopped up with squared-off edges everywhere, just super-rocky, and I had to stay on it no matter what.”
From these two and many, many others, we expect to see some white-knuckle action come out of this year’s Mint 400. In the meantime, reflecting on Contingency Day has been fun and interesting. Enjoy yourself and as always, your ticket to the front-row seat is right here with Off Road Xtreme.