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he Mint 400 is known as The Great American Off Road Race. This is the longest and most grueling race to be held within the United States and we are lucky enough to have it held right here in Las Vegas. (The outskirts in the desert) The first Mint 400 was ran in 1968. It was initially a public relations event used to promote the Mint Hotel’s annual dear hunt. Although it started out as a promotional event it later grew into a legitimate desert race. Over many years it grew and grew but after the Mint Casino was sold in 1988 the race ended. Fast forward to 2008 and the race was revived. It was originally ran by SNORE but was later purchased by The Martelli Brothers (Mad Media). When they took it over they put a focus on growing the sport of off road racing and getting more television time and making it a week long event where people from all over the world can come to enjoy the race. This type of marketing helps grow the sport because it makes sponsors happy. Sponsors want to get the biggest bang for their buck and the Mint 400 is sure where it’s at.
We know one man that understands the game very well, Rob MacCachren. Rob is one of the few off road drivers who has made a living as a racer. We had the opportunity to meet up with Rob and learn a little more about what he does to prepare for a race like the Mint 400 and what his thoughts are on racing this year.
Rob MacCachren is a Las Vegas local, born and raised. His dad raced off-road when he was a kid and when he turned 16 they had an opportunity to buy a buggy to race. Rob’s dad told him if he wanted to race it, he had to prep and fix it. Rob’s first race was the SNORE 250 and his dad decided to drive some of the race since Rob was a rookie. Rob ended up putting down faster lap times than his dad and the rest is history. Rob is now one of the best Off-Road Racing Champions to exist with so many wins over the years and a ton of history in his career. If you want to know more, go give him a follow and look up his history. Enjoy this interview with Rob MacChachren!
We started the day off by meeting at Kroyer Racing Engines shop out at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is the engine builder that many of the highly competitive Off-Road race teams use to ensure there powertrain is on the bottom of their potential problem list. Here Rob’s truck was unloaded and put on a dyno to make any changes and ensure the trucks engine and transmission were working correctly. Kroyer Racing Engines has an immaculate shop with tons of engine builds going on. Just from walking around briefly and going on a little tour you can tell this place is the real deal. After that they loaded the truck up and we all headed out to a popular testing area in Jean, NV. Here Rob took the truck on a few shake downs with his crew chief first to make sure all the normal operating systems were in good working order. Once they made sure of that then a shock tuner got in the passenger seat and began going out to feel some of the adjustments they made. This process went on for a while until Rob felt like they found a good ride for the truck.
Are you excited to race in the Mint 400 this year?
Always, The Mint 400 is the first race I remember as a little kid when I was 7/8 years old. My dad raced in the early 70’s and I remember going to the race with him. It was always the big race. When I got older, 12-16 years old, I remember it was okay with the parents and we would ditch school and ride our BMX bikes down to Fremont Street to check out all the cars. Growing up doing that then and then just knowing the hype and notoriety with everything going on in Vegas and the race being 400 miles, it has just always been one you want to compete in. Also being a local I love just being down there on Fremont and I usually see people that I know and people even back to high school and I have a lot of people rooting for me because I am local or they have known me forever so that is cool! I believe the event is going to get bigger and bigger and it’s awesome they are adding motorcycles and making it a two day event.
How many times have you raced the Mint 400?
I have raced The Mint 400 between 10-15 times. My first time was in 1983. Fun fact, my first Mint 400 I raced I was sponsored by the Circus Circus Hotel and I had to wear a pink jacket when I was 16 or 17 years old.
How many times have you won the Mint 400?
We have one in our class a few times but we have only won one time overall in 2017 but we have been close quite a few times.
Is there any specific or new strategy you have for this year’s Mint 400?
My strategy always is to be there at the end and be in contention to win. Last year starting on the 2nd lap I made a mental error and got frustrated. I caught a guy that started in front of me and I was bumping on him trying to get him to move out of my way and he wasn’t moving so I tried to push him out of my way and when I did I ended up rolling over and it took me out of the race so my strategy is to not do what I did last year and be patient, don’t lose my mind and take a breath. I want to make sure I am still in the race to have a chance to win it. I always say there are probably ten guys that have a good shot of winning this race and I was one of those guys last year and took myself out. Of those 10 somebody has a mechanical failure, somebody has a flat or two and towards the end/last lap there are usually 2/3 guys up in the running and I just have to make sure I am one of them.
How do you prepare for a race like the Mint 400?
I will use the Baja 1000 as an example. The Baja 1000 is the grand daddy of all the off road races that I do so pretty much 365 days a year we are preparing for the Baja 1000. You can say the same for The Mint 400. With how large of a race this is we are always preparing year round with strategy and figuring out pit plans. My pit team, Baja Fools, pit practice weeks prior to the event.
How many different classes do you think you have raced in?
Uhm at least 10. Some of these classes don’t exist or have been combined now. Class 1, Class 2 (now combined) class ½ 1600, class 5/1600, 7s, 8/8s, 10, 12, trophy truck, Pro 2, Pro 4
What vehicle classes/Series do you currently run?
I am racing the Trophy truck in select desert races. I race KOH, all four SCORE races and The Mint 400.
How does it feel to be considered one of the greatest off-road racers of all time?
I typically say the reason why is because I’ve been doing this for 35 plus years. It is quite an honor, when people ask me how many races I have won and what not I try not to keep track. I am competitive and can still win the races so I don’t plan on slowing down. I have people asking me how much longer I am racing and if I am almost done and I am like NO. Not now. I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
What is one thing everyone should know about you? I love racing. I am actually shy. I really like doing stuff with the family. My career, job, passion, hobby, life is racing. It is not just my paycheck it is my hobby as well because at the end of the day I will be out riding motorcycles, UTV’s and I am always thinking of honing my skills.
What is your favorite food?
I have been saying Mexican food for quite some time but lately I have been moving back to Italian.
Do you have any cool toys, prerunners or race cars we don’t know about?
I currently race the Pro2 and Trophy Truck and I still have two Pro4’s that I don’t race anymore. One was retired in 2001 and the other was retired in 2017. We have 4 Polaris RZR’s. One is a 2 seater that is a show car with all my sponsor logos and what not and then we have three 4 seaters for the family. My son and I have motorcycles. I have a Husky and he has a Honda. I also have an Intense mountain bike that we take out to Big Bear or Brian Head to mountain bike. We sometimes go mountain biking in Boulder City at Bootleg. My actual prerunner I use for my racing is an Alumicraft 3 seater with a 450 hp LS3, an electric refrigerator, a roof rack, lights, tool boxes, rain kit and all the bells and whistles I need. It is one of my pride and joys.