Race through the desert with The Mint 400
USA TODAY | 2014-03-06 18:31

NASCAR may be the big race this weekend, but next weekend is for even more hardcore race fans, who head to Las Vegas for The Mint 400.

The Mint was known as the toughest off-road race when it began in 1967, and today's it's still the biggest. The event brings four days of festivities to Downtown, where the race originated as a promotion for the Mint Hotel. The Mint may be gone now, and The Golden Nugget is now the official hotel of the event, but the race lives on March 12-16.

The whole shebang kicks off on Wednesday, March 12, with a parade of race vehicles down Las Vegas Boulevard, led by Mint 400 1973 champion Parnelli Jones. The field of cars in the procession includes those that will compete in The Great American Off-Road Race better known as The Mint 400.

Throughout the weekend most of the events are free to the public, including various pit crew challenges, meet and greets and the Miss Mint 2014 crowning on Thursday, March 13.

Spectators can catch contingency inspections on Fremont Street on Friday, March 14, to get up close and personal with the vehicles that will attempt to conquer the Nevada desert on Saturday, March 15. The course itself is a 100-mile loop for some 300 vehicles, including a record-breaking 54 Trick Trucks that will navigate through the unforgiving, treacherous terrain. And of course, don't miss the victory party at Insert Coins Downtown that night at 8 p.m.

If you're feeling like you need to put some pedal to the metal yourself, and want to go head to head against the professionals, you can even rent a race-ready vehicle. Several off-road driving experience companies based in Las Vegas have you covered. If you prefer to enjoy The Mint 400 from a less mobile perspective, there are four areas for spectators, right in front of where all the action happens.

For nearly five decades The Mint 400 has proved that Las Vegas' need for speed can't be contained to regular roads. It's how you really get off the beaten track.


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