August 14th marks one of the darkest days in off-road racing history in North America.
During the MDR California 200 in Lucerne,CA a race truck in the 1450 pre-runner class went off the race course into a large group of spectators killing at least 8 and leaving more wounded.
Off-Road racing in the desert is held in open unpopulated desert areas common to the southwest of the United States. These areas are designated Off Highway Recreational Areas and are open to the public. Last Saturday, MDR organized a night race as part of the their race series in Lucern, CA near Soggy Lake that attracted 87 entries and many spectators alongside the 60-mile race course. This being on open public land, desert crowds gathered all along the course to watch the race cars go by.
Soon after the start approximately 2 miles into the race one of the race trucks went off the designated course into a group of spectators, coming to a stop up-side down. Some people where trapped under the vehicle. The spectators took quick action and slowed down following race cars and gave first-aid to those in need. There were many spectators on-hand that had first-aid experience and they rushed to the scene without any hesitations most likely saving lives due to their actions.
Soon the CHP, BLM and Fire Department took over. Multiple helicopters rushed injured spectators to nearby hospitals.
California Highway Patrol started a detailed accident investigation. There are false reports on some media outlets that the driver had to flee the scene due to assaults from an angry mob. This is not true and CHP released the driver free to go without any charges filed at the moment.
Desert racing over the years has adopted many safety standards such as personal safety equipment and technical inspections to all race competitors. Crowds are advised to stay clear of the race course and often the race promotor marks safety lines alongside the race course spectators have to follow.
A safety wall or fence, common in other forms of motorsports, is simply unrealistic as races are held on large public lands. How do you fence in hundreds of desert miles?
The entire off-road community grieves over the loss of human lives. We are one off-road family and will hold together in this dark time. There will be many questions, some answers and some solutions down the road that will make desert racing an even safer sport.
If you feel as helpless as we all feel right now but feel the need to reach out and help then please donate towards the California 200 fund fast-aid.org
Fast Aid is a non profit organization that has been in place to offer fast financial aid where it counts. FAST-Aid