'In some circles, the Mint 400 is a far, far better thing than the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Lower Oakland Roller Derby Finals all rolled into one. This race attracts a special breed…' so wrote Hunter S. Thompson in the Gonzo classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
The Mint 400 is a desert race from the golden age. HST wrote his legendary tale of drugs and wolverines of trapezes after being sent to cover the event for Sports Illustrated magazine in 1971, but don't buy the book expecting tales of Manx Buggies or Metisse Triumphs.
Originally the race was for four-wheelers, then a bike class was introduced, it seems, in 1970, but only ran for two years. The race didn't take place from 1994 until it was reintroduced in 2008 and bikes weren't invited back until 2019. That was a signal for four Harley-Davidson riders, including SB25 cover star, Mark 'Rusty Butcher' Atkins, to enter on modified Sportsters.
If you've never ridden a Sportster, let me tell you this is a ballsy move for terrain this tough. Watch the short film and tip your hat for the riders: Barry Nobles, Rusty Butcher, Mikey Virus and Arnie Wells.
And if you haven't read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas yet, do something about it.
Originally contested by four- and two-wheelers, the bike class was suspended for years. When it was reintroduced.