BITD: Five Minutes with Casey Folks
You'd think that Best in the Desert director Casey Folks would be one whipped puppy. Just making the the TSCO Vegas-to-Reno event happen would be a Herculean task for anyone half his age, yet somehow folks continues to pull all the strings to make the longest off-road race in the United States a reality year after year.
As you might imagine, the event's tech and contingency day at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was a hubub of activity, the gail force warning before the storm. As usual, Folks rides in the eye of that storm. With all of the frenzied, last-minute preparations for the race, it can be hard to pin him down, even when it is clear by how smoothly the race signups and tech inspections were going that Folks had done is homework.
Still, DirtSportsMag managed to grab a word with the BITD's charismatic leader. In between bites of cookie, Folks offered up his thoughts on the 2008 running of BITD's crown jewel.
All of the Best in the Desert races are special, but the TSCO Vegas to Reno is the most special. What do these drivers and teams have in store for them tomorrow?
Yes, Vegas to Reno is the flagship of Best in the Desert. That’s what we started with. Tomorrow? Man, it’s going to be 457 miles of everything that we can throw at them. It’s called new adventures in off-road racing, and that’s what we’ve done, create a 457-mile challenge. We have given them about everything we can give them when it comes to off-road racing. It’s going to be a great run.
Obviously, Vegas to Reno is a monumental challenge from an organizational standpoint. Just what goes into making this race happen?
We actually work on this race one year ahead of time. As we speak, I’m actually working on the ’09 event, trying to get that ready. There are a lot of logistics and a lot of dealings with the Bureau of Land Management, the permitting process, that have to be taken care of. Actually getting to the event itself entails 70 solid days of work. That’s 70 straight days, every day, of getting to this point.
You’ve certainly got to be pleased with the turnout for the 2008 race.
Well, 328 entries, that’s a record for this race. I believe 320 was the record before, so we’ve surpassed that, and we are way past last year’s number of 302.
You’ve also got to be very happy with how the Best in the Desert Series has continued to grow as a whole in 2008, even in the face of a less than stellar economy.
People still have the toys, I think, and they want to go race them. I think what you’ll start to see happen is that they will pick and choose a little more. Maybe they’ll do this race and not that one, that sort of thing. But I’d like to think that Best in the Desert is just getting stronger. It’s certainly having its strongest year this year.
Why do you think that’s happening?
Because I think that people are starting to understand what goes into making a Best in the Desert race, and they appreciate that we treat everybody the same. There are no prima donnas here. Everyone is the same, as far as I am concerned. They all follow the same rules. All those things add up. People pay a lot of money to come here and do this, and they want to be treated nicely. I think we have that reputation now, and that banner that is out there, the Best in the Desert banner, stands for a very professional organization.
So, what is going to make you happy tomorrow when all is said and done?
Number one for me will be if we have no injures. We want a safe race. I want to see lots of finishers and lots of happy people at the finish line.