Grueling and tough would be good words to use to describe off road racing. Using them to describe the 2013 General Tire Mint 400 Presented by Polaris though, would be an understatement. The Mint 400 started in 1967 to help promote the Downtown Vegas casino. The popularity of the race grew quickly, but after 20 years of racing, The Mint, raced its last race in 1988. Fast forward to 2008 when the race and its events were re-introduced and now to 2013 where Best In The Desert and Mad Media have made this race one of the most exciting desert races in nation.
Best In The Desert held qualifying on Thursday morning in the desert of North Las Vegas. The 4-mile loop would see Las Vegas locals Rob MacCachren and Bryce Menzies filling in the top 2 spots of qualifying and Jones Motorsports’ #76 FOX Trick Truck of Jesse Jones would be starting Saturdays race in 9th. After a few hours in the dirt, the trucks and crew cleaned up and took to the streets of Downtown Vegas. The trucks on display for thousands of fans and the crews mentally preparing themselves for the infamous “pit crew challenge.”
South of Las Vegas, off the frequently traveled interstate 15, you’ll find Jean, NV. The open desert of Jean is well known for teams testing their trucks and buggies. For the second year now, this is where the 400-mile race will yet again make history. With the help of the Nevada BLM, a 100-mile loop was laid out and marked. Full of boulders, silt beds and whoop sections where seeing sky, dirt, sky, dirt, just become part of the routine.
Right at 1pm the first Trophy Truck started it’s battle. After Thursday’s qualifying results, Jones Motorsports’ plan, come race day was to try and stay within 5 minutes of the race leaders for the first two laps. The truck was dialed in and handling better than ever and Jesse found himself running with the leaders early on in the race. After the elements of the desert would take out some top runners, Jesse was battling for the lead with none other than 2012 Baja 1000 teammate, Bryce Menzies. Jones and Menzies would swap the lead position numerous times as they battled. Both trucks would be stopped for mere seconds to change flats. They both would run into lap traffic, huge rocks and dust that would just hang in the air.
“Patience and keeping the wheels on the track are major keys to making sure you are there at the end.” Said Jones. The 100-mile loop took out a lot of trucks and cars. With the last lap in sight, it would be more flats and a failed powered steering pump belt that would set Jesse back from the lead. Disappointed he couldn’t race Bryce to the finish, but happy to even get a finish, Jesse was super proud of his team. “When mechanical issues take away the option of winning the next goal for the team is just focusing on getting the team and sponsors a much deserved finish.” Jesse stated.
A disappointed, but humbled Jones, finished 12th out of 21 Trick Truck’s and is now ready to get the truck back into the shop and prepped for the Baja 500, just months away.