Tragedy in the Desert


August 15, 2010 by torqdog

Eight killed in desert off-road race

As many of you know, I’m involved in Desert Racing as an assistant to a photograper/videographer. I’ve been to many races and have frequently positioned myself in “the line of fire” hoping to get that one amazing shot. Last night, a truck went out of control and wound up killing eight spectators and injuring many others. This one hits home for me and my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those taken and the survivors as well. Names have yet to be released but my fears are that I may actually know someone so this hits home especially hard.


Stu has requested that I post some of the photos I’ve taken so here goes. These particular shots come from the Powder Puff Breast Cancer Race held every year the second week in October in Barstow Ca.  All proceeds go to benefit breast cancer research and this race is especially fun because all the drivers are women. The first few are from “tech” held friday eve. before the race. Tech is where the cars must pass inspection.

My buddy Scott and I team up with the folks that race this car.

Yes indeed it is a Rolls Royce 4x4 race car.

These photos are taken at the start/finish line. If it seems folks are standing too close, they’re not. All cars must come to a complete stop here before moving on. The rest of the course is more regulated. 

Go team! Jen Clemison at the helm.

It just wouldn't be a race without problems....... ah, make that obstacles.

With problem diagnosed and fixed, they're ready to rumble again

More to come. Scott, my partner in crime will be posting up some vids when he has a chance. It’s kind of crazy in the desert racing world right now as everything is in turmoil. “La familia” will pull through eventually.

11 thoughts on “Tragedy in the Desert

  1. Stu says:

    You’ll have to post some of of your photos and/or give us a link to some of the videos (if they are available online).

  2. torqdog says:

    Well, now that the dust has settled (sort of), it’s becomming clear that this story is gonna be around for a while. Rather than go into a whole bunch of babble as to what my thoughts are, I’m just gonna post some links to a few threads from the Race Dezert forum I participate in. Look through them if you have the time and get a different perspective than what the sensationalist media is giving you right now. Most of the folks on this forum are involved in desrt racing in one form or another.

    This first link is the most important one. It is a direct link to fastaid, a non-profit where you can donate money to the families of the lost as well as the survivors. It’s easy and they do take Paypal. Just indicate that your donation goes to “California 200” when prompted.

    This second link is to the thread that has been running pretty much from the minute the wreck occured. It currently has over 800 comments so you may want to dive in somewhere…….. or just read and absorb the whole thing. I posted a comment at #360 and a few after that.

    This thread showed up today. I guess the word is that the BLM is thinking of shutting down ALL racing in the desert on federal land. My personal feeling is that with the media and special interest groups like the Sierra Club at their throats to do just that, they are waiting for the dust to settle before making any rash decisions. At least that’s what I’m hoping.

  3. Bill says:

    The lawsuits that will materialize will be the long-term problem for the BLM and the race sponsors and organizers. The Sierra Club won’t have to raise a finger. You can be upset at Trial Lawyers, but lawyers don’t sue people, people sue people…using lawyers.

    As a former insurance agent, I can speak to the fact that if they had a one or two day event insurance policy, that will get hit until it’s dry, then the claimants will go after individual’s homeowner liability policy-parts and drain those. When that doesn’t satisfy the claims, they’ll bankrupt everyone involved, one at a time, including the drivers of the car that crashed.

    I watched some news about this last night and participants who witnessed it said that the only way to prevent that kind of accident is to put up circle-track-type walls or guard rail, both of which are severely impractical.

    I found it kind of bizarre that the crowd starting throwing rocks at the drivers of the ill-fated vehicle, forcing them to flee the area. After all, it was an accident and some people apparently stand as close as 10 feet from passing vehicles.

    • torqdog says:

      Yeah, the rock throwing thing has according to the CHP been repudiated but the story is still circulating soooooo……. who knows.

      I agree, this is gonna be an absolute windfall for the Lawyers and could severely complicate future racing. Time will tell and at this point in time it’s best to just let things play out as there aint a whole lot that anyone involved in racing can do other than continue writing letters to the BLM.

  4. torqdog says:

    Here is another thread you should look at. Started by my friend and partner Scott, it is an expose of all the good things Off Road Racing has done to help people and enrich lives. A VERY worthy read;

  5. Scoot says:

    Here is video from The Powder Puff Race for the Cure Breast cancer benefit that Randy and I work on together. We off-roaders raise mucho dinero for da boobies – Peace! :)

  6. torqdog says:

    Good news, looks like the BLM is giving us the green light. Understand that MORE (Mojave Off Road Enthusiasts) is a different org. from MDR (Mojave Desert Racing) and do a better job controlling all aspects of their events. MDR’s next event has been cancelled.

    There has been an intense letter writing campaign over the past couple of days from all facets of the sport. Looks like we may have had an affect.

    BLM give green light for next MORE event
    Just talked to Ron Mattews, MORE race director. He said BLM has just given them permission to run their next event

    Good news!, He is very thank full for all the support

    Sept 11, 2010 Chili cook off 200 Lucerne, CA

  7. Stu says:

    Do you ever run into the booby-traps like they experience during the Baja races, or is that unique to Mexico?

  8. billie789 says:

    I’ve read stories of that kind of thing happening during the Baja run. People pushing old, junk cars out onto the track just over a hill, etc.

  9. Adam says:

    I was at the mud bogs in Port Townsend on Sunday the told us about this and we had a moment of silence. It was one thing discussed during the KOH event was the crowd and there in crouching on the track. In the videos Ive seen there are people running out on the track when a buggy thats highly unstable at speeds in excess of 100mph goes by them. In the technical sections they were forcing the trucks in the harder and more technical sections and at times were running up trying to help push at inappropriate times.

    I wish the families the best. In the end I hope this doesn’t create a major change in the ability to do these types of events. I do hope it starts a mental awareness to the spectators of these venues.

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