Best in the Desert race fills hotel rooms across region

A race through the Nevada desert isn't top of mind for Northern Nevada special events, but the annual Best in the Desert race from Beatty to Dayton packs hotel and motel rooms throughout Reno and Carson City, event organizers say.

Peggi Gold, president of Rope Marketing in Reno, says organizers already received more than 150 entries for the 550-mile race, which includes more than 900 crew and 400 volunteers. An entourage of several thousand racing fans is expected to follow the off-road race route as well.

Gold has booked nearly 1,000 rooms on Friday and on Saturday for race participants and fans at the Grand Sierra Resort, and last week she was still scrambling to book additional rooms at other hotels.

The one-day race begins at 5 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 and ends when racers cross the finish line at Dayton Events Center. An awards ceremony expected to draw 900 people is scheduled for Aug. 20 at Grand Sierra Resort.

"As they come through this area, many of the motels in Carson City are sold out," Gold says. "A lot of people also book their own rooms so we have no way to track them. This (event) brings a lot of money to the hotels."

Casey Folks organized the first Best in the Desert race in 1996. The route, which includes part of the Pony Express Trail, starts at 2,500 feet in elevation and climbs to heights greater than 9,000 feet. The event has grown to include race teams from across the U.S., as well as Spain, Montreal and South Africa.

Folks says the economic impact of the race is in the millions of dollars, and many small communities, such as Mina and Beatty, experience a huge jolt in taxable sales. The average truck team, he says, spends about $50,000 to participate in the race.

"We are impacting rural Nevada like they have never been," he says. "If you put a line of support vehicles on the highway, it would be a solid line from Beatty to Tonopah. There are at least 3,000 support people following the event, and it is a huge financial impact to Nevada. It is a big industry, and it brings a lot of dollars to Nevada."

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