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Last-minute help saved '09 Mint 400 off road race
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SNORE member put up $100,000 surety bond
The 2009 Mint 400 off road race in late March northeast of Las Vegas almost didn’t happen and probably would not have were it not for a generous gesture on behalf of one member of the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts (SNORE).
A late requirement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs complicated by an apparent lack of communications required a $100,000 surety bond sending SNORE and its members scrambling to meet the demands while also saving the race.
Only quick thinking by one of SNORE’s members generated the $100,000 to save the event, according to the source which chose not to be identified. In fact, when the group presents its Jimmy Schaeffer Award lauding the efforts of one single individual later this year, there is not much question who will receive the award.
“We had to fully fund it because we could not get it underwritten in time,” the source revealed recently.
On June 29, the person who put up the money was paid back. However, it goes without saying that the race likely would not have occurred were it not for the quick work on behalf of the SNORE member.
Mike Haller, who works with the realty division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said the decision for a surety bond came about a month before the race although SNORE didn’t actually learn about the decision until 10-14 days before the event.
“We weren’t even sure the race was going to go forward because there were quite a few things that needed to be taken care of,” said Haller, whose office is in St. George, Utah. “We didn’t know if they were going to leave cars in the desert or maybe have oil spills. We simply didn’t know what damage might occur.
“We generally require a $100,000-$150,000 surety bond anytime the land is to be used. I don’t see why SNORE could not have the event on the Indian reservation again next year.”
As it turned out, SNORE lived up to the requirements and will meet with the BIA in August to see about using the area again in 2010.
While the late requirement of SNORE was a jolt to some, it wasn’t surprising to KJ Howe, who was the race director of the event from 1973-85.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Howe said. “The same thing happened to us in 1983 with the Mint 400. “The Indians had already hit us with an enormous fee to begin with and the next thing we knew, the fee was tripled. There was no warning or anything. They told us to take it or leave it so I told them to leave it.
“In those days, we had 100,000 spectators and the Mint Hotel negotiated to hire the Indian labor force to conduct post-race cleanup. That was fine until we found ourselves dealing with last-minute requirements.”
Howe said he warned officials that the race would be run around the reservation.
“They told me I couldn’t do it,” said Howe, who was both a promoter and competitor in the old Mint 400 events. “We went with Plan B by going around them and everything went just fine.”
Howe suggested that SNORE deal with the latest issue by making plans now to avoid the reservation in 2010, if possible.
Danny Cau, who was involved with off-road racing first in 1982 when he worked in timing and scoring for the High Desert Racing Association before buying the organization, said that he didn’t have many problems running the Mint 400 through Indian land during a seven year period.
“I didn’t know it had become that difficult,” said Cau, who sold the HDRA to SCORE in 1993 and worked for the Sal Fish operation until 1997. “I do recall, however, the problems that Walt (HDRA owner Walt Lott) and KJ had.
“For the most part, I have nothing but good memories. But then, there is just so much bureaucratic tape to go through now.”



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