Mint 400

The Mint 400 is an annual desert off road race that was resumed in 2008 after a 20 year hiatus.

The race was for both motorcycles, until 1977, and four-wheel vehicles (buggies, cars and trucks) sponsored by Del Webb's Mint Hotel and Casino.[1] Del Webb, a well known builder and friend of Howard Hughes, was owner of the Mint Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. It became known as The Great American Desert Race.



The Mint 400 race ended in 1988 after the sale of the Mint and the resulting breakup of the management team.[2]

The race resumed on March 29, 2008.[2] The race was preceded by inspections of the vehicles on Fremont Street in the Fremont East district.[2]

The Mint 400 was also the ground topic for Hunter S. Thompson's semi fictional novel "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas". Thompson was originally paid by a magazine to write a short article on the race itself, but ended up with about 25 000 words which were rejected by the magazine. These then became the blueprint for the novel later but were originally published in two parts by Rolling Stone magazine.


First Overall 83 & 84 Jim & Billy Wright



  • 1970
  • 1971 Fritz Kroyer, Bill Harkey 13:30:42 [5]
  • 2008
    • Heavy Metal,
    • Mini Metal,
    • Stock Bug
    • Stock Full,
    • Unlimited Truck,
    • CLASS 1,
    • CLASS 1/2-1600,
    • CLASS 3,
    • CLASS 4,
    • CLASS 5,
    • CLASS 5-1600,
    • CLASS 6,
    • CLASS 7,
    • CLASS 7S,
    • CLASS 8,
    • CLASS 9,
    • CLASS 10,
    • CLASS 12,
    • CLASS 13,
    • CLASS 15,
    • CLASS 18,
    • CLASS 1450,

Notable entrants

Entrants in this event were world wide and included some of the most well-known names from all racing genres as well as the television and motion picture industry. Indianapolis 500 winners Parnelli Jones, Al Unser, Rick Mears, and Rodger Ward; off-road champions Mickey Thompson, Ivan Stewart, Jack Flannery, Walker Evans; international off road competitor, Rod Hall; power boat champion Bill Muncey, movie- and television stars James Garner and Steve McQueen; Comedian, Mort Sahl; Astronaut, Gordon Cooper, are among the many racing and entertainment luminaries who competed in the Mint 400.[6]

Mint 400 girls

K.J. Howe, Mint Hotel executive and longtime Mint 400 Race Director, conceived "The Girls of the Mint 400" in 1972 to add glamor and PR value to the race. Each year the Mint racing committee chose a contingent of women to reign over the events' activities. Local media representatives would help select the final ten from the hundreds of entries received from contestants from around the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. The Mint racing committee would select the final five who became known as the Mint 400 girls. This group includes Lynda Carter (who portrayed Wonder Woman in the television series) and Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White. Mint 400 Girls Tracy Vaccaro and Dona Speir were Playboy centerfolds and Vickie Reigle graced Playboy's cover subsequent to their Mint 400 publicity. Lisa Soulé, Anita Merritt, Angela Aames, Lisa Hunter and Suzanne Regard later appeared in various movies and television series as well as Mint Hotel and Casino advertising campaigns.

Impact on journalism

Hunter S. Thompson's novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas depicts the 1971 race in one of the earliest and best known instances of gonzo journalism. His suggestion that he would ride a Vincent Black Shadow (one of the fastest production road bikes ever made) was most likely tongue-in-cheek, since this bike is too large for off-road riding and the last one produced would have been 16 years old by that time. The Mint is also featured in the movie based on Thompson's book.


  1. ^ [1] "The Mint 400", Las Vegas Sun, Retrieved January 7, 2007
  2. ^ a b c "News at 11PM". KLAS-TV. 2008-03-29. 
  3. ^ [2] "Champs Aren't Disqualified", dated between March 21 and 23, 1971, Las Vegas Sun, Retrieved January 7, 2007, Warning: PDF file
  4. ^ [3] "Vegas Rider Finally Wins Mint Jackpot", dated between March 21 and 23, 1971 [4], Las Vegas Sun, Retrieved January 7, 2007, Warning: PDF file
  5. ^ [5] "California Pair Take Mint 400", dated between March 21 and 23, 1971, Las Vegas Sun, Retrieved January 7 2007, Warning: PDF file
  6. ^ [6] "Buggies roll at night", dated between March 21 and 23, 1971 [7], Las Vegas Sun, Retrieved January 7, 2007, Warning: PDF file

External links

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