Top Gun ties off summer in Vegas-to-Reno race

A pick-up arrives at the pit-stop during the Vegas-to-Reno race through rural Nevada several years ago.

A pick-up arrives at the pit-stop during the Vegas-to-Reno race through rural Nevada several years ago.

Saturday is a big day for Fallon and Churchill County race fans.

The annual Vegas-to-Reno Best in the Desert extravaganza is scheduled to pass through here about noon tomorrow at the intersection of Highway 95 and the Fallon Raceway turnoff during its grueling trek through Nevada’s outback which begins at dawn today in Southern Nevada.

Participants will be piloting cars, trucks, dune buggies, motorcycles, ATVs and quads along existing dirt roads during this world-famous competition that has consistently been the longest and most-challenging off-road race in the United States.

Casey Folks, executive director of the race, told the Lahontan Valley News, “This year we are celebrating the Vegas-to-Reno’s 20th anniversary, and I promise it will be the best we’ve ever had. About 335 teams have signed up and among those are participants from several foreign countries.”

The race takes place on tracks already carved through the desert and organizers will clean up and even grade the route after the competition ends, he added.

Following is the complete race schedule and route:

THURSDAY: – Racers checked in and had their vehicles inspected in the parking lot of the Aliante Casino Resort in North Las Vegas. The racers spent the night at the hotel.

FRIDAY: The race begins at Alamo off Highway 93 which is about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. The route goes northwest through Hiko, Railroad Valley and Warm Springs to Rachel and then on to Tonopah, where the vehicles, drivers, race fans and traveling press spend the night.

SATURDAY: Leaving Tonopah about dawn, the racers travel west to Coaldale off Highway 95 and then go north past Luning and Hawthorne to Frenchman. Then the route goes west through Churchill County until it reaches the Top Gun Raceway intersection with Highway 95. Folks said the racers will arrive at the Raceway-Highway 95 intersection, which is about 14 miles south of downtown Fallon, about noon, and it could take two hours for all the vehicles to cross the road because they are competing in heats according to their specific classes. Law enforcement personnel and race staffers will be on hand to assist in directing traffic when the racers cross the highway.

The race then continues west on Saturday to Weeks, which lies close to Ft. Churchill and near to the Carson River. From here, the route goes on to Dayton, where it ends at the rodeo grounds at the Dayton Events Center near the intersection of Highway 50 and Dayton Valley Rd. The vehicles will be on display at the rodeo grounds, and later Saturday the drivers and their vehicles will travel to Reno and the Sands Regency Hotel, the race’s Northern Nevada headquarters, where the drivers, staff and traveling press and fans will spend the night.

SUNDAY: There will be an 8 a.m. buffet breakfast at the hotel to be followed by the traditional annual awards ceremony.

All during the two-day race, which is more than 500 miles long, “Safety will be our priority. We’ll have 14 pit stops and medical and law enforcement personnel stationed along the route, and vehicle inspection will be held at several intervals. The use of drones along the route will be prohibited because they are dangerous to the safety to all concerned,” said race executive Don Hall.

Casey Folks also stressed the financial and tourism benefits of the cross-Nevada race.

“Hotels, motels, restaurants, auto parts stores, gas stations, grocery stores and RV parks count on the race each year as an important part of their annual revenues. The race generates millions of dollars annually and we believe that about 5,000 people, who include drivers, mechanics, race staff and fans, are involved with the race each year, he added.


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