This road race in the Nevada desert is 400 miles of hell--and wickedly good fun

The Mint 400 is a 400-mile off-road race along a loop extending from the California-Nevada state line near Primm, Nev., to the outskirts of Las Vegas. It takes place March 4 this year, all along a desert course.For the last two years, driver Justin...

This road race in the Nevada desert is 400 miles of hell--and wickedly good fun

The Mint 400 is a 400-mile off-road race along a loop extending from the California-Nevada state line near Primm, Nev., to the outskirts of Las Vegas. It takes place March 4 this year, all along a desert course.

For the last two years, driver Justin Lofton has won overall races with times of 5:36:10 in 2016 and 5:57:38 in 2015.

However, fewer than half of the off-road racers who enter ever finish the grueling contest. If you want to see for yourself what makes this dust-up so tough, head out and watch.

Spectators pay $25 per vehicle to park at designated places. Covered viewing areas plus drinks and food are part of the VIP packages you may buy. For example, $250 gets you a skybox seat to watch all the action.

Four of the five designated spectator areas can be reached by exiting Interstate 15 at Jean, Nev., and turning onto Goodsprings Road (Nevada State Route 161). 

The fifth spot is the start and finish line at Primm, directly behind Buffalo Bill’s.

The race started in 1968, took a hiatus in 1988 and resumed in 2008. It draws entrants from around the world, with roughly 350 teams set to compete in various categories this year.

Racing begins 8 a.m. Saturday and continues through the afternoon.

Related activities begin in Las Vegas much earlier.

The schedule includes a parade of off-road vehicles on the Strip at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday and a showing of a 2016 Mint 400 TV documentary at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 9th and Fremont streets.

Info: The Mint 400

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