Heidi Bunch/MCIN
Pit crews work on a truck during the Best in the Desert off-road race on Friday.


In true Best in the Desert style, the 2017 “Longest Off Road Race in the United States” ripped through the desert from outside of Las Vegas to the outskirts of Reno on Friday, Aug. 18.

This year, the course was 550 miles of rough, rocky and silt blowing terrain. Liz, a representative for the Best in the Desert (BITD) organization confirmed that over 338 motorcycles, quads, UTVs, and vehicles started the race. Only 204 finished.

Jason Voss, who started out in the third position, took the lead halfway through the Nevada desert, keeping that lead all the way to the finish line. He would take first place with a time just over nine hours, start to finish.

Through the pits, all types of race equipment and their pit crews would be plastered with stickers proclaiming, “Booyah!” A famous quote from the founder of the BITD organization, Casey Folks, who passed away on Jan. 12 of this year while doing what he loved – racing. Starting this race in 1984.

Folks, who treated the volunteers and racers like family, knew that without the help of race fans, his dream was just that – a dream. It became reality when people began believing in his talents, both on and off the race course.

Those Mineral County residents who were close to Folks remember his smiling face, kind words and his trips (after the racing season) on the dirt roads of Mineral County.

Organizing this race in just under eight months, Donald Jackson who has worked for the BITD organization for many years as Operations Manager took to filling the large shoes left behind by Folks.

Jackson took the bull by the horns and the “Longest Off Road Race in the United States” was able to be completed – just as Folks would have wanted.

This year, like those in the past, accidents occur along the route. From fatigued and dehydrated riders to broken bones or freak accidents and even death, the racers are made aware of the hazards the may face along the route, but like many – the thrill of the race outweighs the dangers.

An incident report was supplied to the Independent-News by Jackson regarding two racing accidents during the Friday event.

A professional quad rider was involved in a collision, reportedly with a race truck and was at Renown Medical Center in Reno recovering.

Unfortunately, in that report, Jackson also reports of a death along the route. A solo motorcycle rider, 1st Sgt. USMC (Ret.) Chris Carlisle was involved in a “solo accident”. Carlisle passed away at Mt. Grant General Hospital in Hawthorne. The time of death at this time is unknown.

The accident occurred between Pit 8 and Pit 9 of the race route.

The Independent-News has learned that Carlisle was a 20-year Marine who served as an infantry leader in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a drill instructor. For his service, he was the recipient of the Bronze Star as well as two Purple Hearts.

At the time of the race, he had been racing with the Warrior Built organization whose mission is “to honor the service and sacrifice of combat veterans and wounded service members who served our country by providing vocational and recreational opportunities. Vocational and recreational opportunities break through walls and foster an environment of healing, where great memories are born and new support systems are formed.” The organization constructs vehicles of all types from the ground, up.

He was also a member of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, which helps veterans to process the hardships they may have endured during and after combat.

The next race of the BITD organization will be held in Lincoln County in September.