Barstow to Vegas, The Great Race
Barstow to Vegas Hare and Hound was no doubt one of the greatest races ever. 3000 motorcycles gathered on a starting line over a mile in length, all waiting for the banner to drop. The roar was deafening and the dust cloud blinding as they all headed toward a distant smokebomb and then on to Vegas. For the strong hearted it was a thing of beauty, starting in Barstow it covered 170 miles of open desert pocked with cactus, boulders, and gaping gullies before reaching the finish line in Las Vegas. After the death defying course Vegas was heaven on earth and the celebrations were on for all who survived.
B to V in a few short years had become an entity with an energy all it’s own. It occupied the heart and soul of racers who prepared for it all year. It was more that just a race it was a life altering event, the desert either swallowed you up or spit you out on the other side. Either way, everyone had a story to tell. The guys who were way out front, Mitch Mayes, A.C. Bakken, and J.N. Roberts became legends. Dusty Coppage won the first B to V in 1967. But for the next four years, that small lonely dust cloud on the horizon, sometimes as much as two miles ahead of the rest, was J.N. Roberts. He was undeniably the king.
But B to V was its own worst enemy. Each and every race’s harrowing stories and tales of success and survival sparked intrigue and interest. The first year’s 500 entries increased to upwards of 3000 by 1971, adding pit crews and spectators. Conservationists and the BLM couldn’t help but take notice. The original Barstow to Vegas was doomed by its own success. But the stories, the legends, and the soul of this great race will endure forever.