Casey Folks was truly the best in the desert. The leader of the Best in the Desert racing
organization passed away in January after a
stroke. He was doing what he had been doing
for the last 50 years—making a race happen.
Virtually every off-road racer in the western
half of the United States knew him or benefited
from his work. In fact, if not for Casey, desert
racing in the U.S. would be very different and
much smaller in scope.
He started off as a racer and stacked up credentials that were impressive in their own right.
He won 16 championships, he ironmanned
the Baja 1000 (the first to do so) and was the
only person to finish every Barstow to Vegas.
He ran a motorcycle shop in Las Vegas and
was instrumental in the start of the Motorcycle
Racing Association of Nevada (MRAN), the
biggest off-road motorcycle racing organization in Nevada. Casey really came into his own
element when he started working with the BLM
to procure racecourses in the face of ever-tight-ening land-use requirements. He started Best
in the Desert in 1984 and was essential in organizing the Acerbis Nevada Rally between 1993
and 1995. Those events still hold the record for
the longest off-road races ever held in the U.S.,
a feat that would have been impossible without
Casey. From there the next step was organizing
Vegas to Reno in 1996, which is still held annually and is the longest stateside off-road race.
The Best in the Desert organization wasn’t
a one-man show, and the men and women
who helped put together all those races have
banded together to make sure the rest of
the 2017 season will take place as Casey
planned. Donald Jackson will be taking over his
responsibilities, although he would be the first
to acknowledge that no one can truly fill his
shoes. Godspeed, Casey.❏
Casey Folks and the
Best in the Desert
BACK IN THE DAY