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In Nevada the name Harrah is associated with casino success. Equally synonymous, albeit less known, is the family’s tie to motor sports. Whether it’s on a snowmobile, motorcycle, or 730-horsepower V-10 Dominator desert racer, John Harrah loves going fast. “You can compare it to jumping out of an airplane,” he says. “But you have that rush for hours.”
In November 2008, Harrah and his racing team, Speed Technologies, won the SCORE Baja 1000, considered by many the holy grail of desert racing. “[Winning Baja] was huge,” he says. The team holds top finishes in a plethora of other races, including the TSCO Vegas to Reno, and second-place finishes in Mesquite’s Silver State 300 and the Henderson Fabtech Desert Classic.
Speed Technologies has been Harrah’s outlet for his adrenaline addiction since 2006. The team races four rigs: The Dominator, driven by Harrah; the HMS Avenger, driven by Chuck Dempsey; the Jimco Class One V6, driven by Mark Leverett; and the Jimco Class 10, driven by Harrah’s son, 17-year-old Johnny. The team also supports a motocross division. Harrah estimates the annual cost of running Speed Technologies is close to $1 million, an expenditure offset by sponsorships. “Our new sponsor, Bully Dog Technologies, stepped up to the plate with a really good package for us,” he says. “At the end of the year we’ll only have to spend about $2,000.”
Harrah has also passed his passion for racing onto his daughter Kody, 15, who navigates for her dad. “I wouldn’t want anyone else in the car with me,” Harrah says. The motor-sports theme doesn’t stop there. “I’m marrying a racer chick,” Harrah says with a chuckle. His fiancé, Holly Kirchner, is also from a racing family. Her father piloted speedboats and her two sons, Dawson, 15, and Wyatt, 12, race stadium motocross.
WORTH A CLICK
Best in the Desert Racing Association
SCORE International Off-Road Racing