Best In The Desert‘s Vegas to Reno is set to begin with a different twist than usual: when the weekend starts on Thursday, 11 August, the field will duke it out for starting positions in a head-to-head time attack rather than the standard single-car format.
The new format will be held on a special three-mile (4.82 km) course split into multiple lanes. Entrants will begin next to each other before taking off, with whomever records the fastest time having the higher starting position for the next day’s Vegas to Reno. The event will be livestreamed on Ryde TV.
It was not immediately revealed if a bracket format will be used to set the grid or total times, or if the times will be for the overall starting position versus class. The former has been used in short course off-road racing such as Championship Off-Road‘s Duel of Champions at Antigo in June.
“[T]he sport’s most aggressive racers will line up side by side to individually battle against the clock for race day starting positions,” reads a press release from BITD. “With multi lane options, towering jumps and blistering high speed sections, this course will separate the brave from the timid.”
The format has been met with mixed reception from the competitors, many of whom fear any damage incurred from the duels could impact their V2R a day later. Some expressed skepticism at running a three-mile short course that does not reflect the 495-mile route that the V2R prides as making it the longest off-road race in the United States. As the session is set to begin at 9 AM before ending at 4 PM, critics also showed doubt about spending too long under the Nevada summer heat.
“Is every organizer trying to see who can do the most f-d up qualifying possible? Each race gets worse and worse, and then wonder why car count is low. This is the dumbest idea yet,” commented Trick Truck driver Trevor Ellingham on BITD’s Instagram post announcing the news.
Others were more positive, feeling it is a welcome change of pace from an otherwise eventful qualifying system.
“Nobody ever likes change bottom line,” said desert racer and crew member Joey Westhoff. “I remember the day we went away from random draw to qualifying and people lost their mind because let’s face it some people are slow and will never run up front without a random draw. Then the complainers came out when the buggy dorks were mixed in and on and on and on…. No one will ever just be happy, but kudos to @bestinthedesert for doing something new and different so the sport doesn’t become stale. For all the complainers maybe they will just make a new class for you guys!”
As of Monday, 196 entries are in the field. Notable 2022 race winners who are entered include Mint 400 victor Kyle Jergensen, San Felipe 250 champion Luke McMillin alongside brother Dan, newly crowned Extreme E race winner Sara Price, and the Australian duo of Finke Desert Race legend Toby Price and Paul Weel.