Nevada's Infamous Mint 400 Off-Road Race Adds EV Class

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Photo: Mint 400

The desert race perhaps most famously known as the event Hunter S. Thompson was sent to Las Vegas to cover at the beginning of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, The Mint 400 is still standing, despite the hotel it was named after shutting down 32 years ago. The famed race was revived in 2008 after twenty years of hiatus, and has only continued to grow in popularity since. In an extremely smart move for the race, organizers announced this week that a class would be created for the 2021 running of the race exclusively for electric vehicles.

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The race is normally scheduled to run in March, but has been postponed to December this year for obvious reasons. For the 2021 running of the race, there will be only one class for EVs, and all electric trucks will be run against each other. For 2022 and beyond the organizers are developing a series of classes based on chassis and powertrain types. That way a Tesla-swapped PRO-4 chassis won’t be competing for the same trophy as a VW Super Beetle with a forklift motor in the back.

“Off-road engineers and fabricators are responsible for designing, building and testing many of the technologies that exist in modern passenger cars, trucks and SUVs. We are the proving ground for new technologies – because we compete in brutal conditions at a pace that destroys anything that isn’t rock solid,” said Mint 400 Co-Owner and CEO, Matt Martelli.

“The EV market for the past few decades has been built around featherweight design, but recent improvements in battery technology have changed that. We’re starting to see EV trucks emerge that, (at least on paper), are light enough, strong enough, and have enough range to not only tackle casual off-road use, but in some areas potentially dominate their gasoline fueled brothers. The proof is in the pudding though! So we’re inviting any/all EV manufacturers to come prove the endurance and durability of their platforms at The Mint 400.”

With the recent growth of high-profile EVs in off-road racing, including the globe-trotting Extreme E series, or Audi’s announcement that it would be running an electrified machine at Dakar, plus the home-grown machines like the Will Spec Garage Nissan Leaf-powered King of the Hammers rock crawler, there is a ton of interest out there. Add in the fact that seemingly dozens of electric pickup trucks are hitting the market this year from various OEMs, both legacy and startup, and you’ve got a recipe for a hell of an electrified good time in the desert, even without a trunk full of illegal drugs.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, I’m going to be covering the Mint 400 in person this year. I might have to bring my attorney with me. And two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five blotter sheets of acid, a salt shaker of cocaine, etcetera...

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