Trever Leach of Thousand Palms has been racing for three years in California desert races and has been a spectator for 10. He’s worried the Bureau of Land Management might put more restrictions on desert races. Leach said, “Maybe this will get more people to volunteer. That’s the real problem; there aren’t enough people volunteering along the course to keep the spectators back.”
Leach lost a friend in the California 200 crash. Some other friends were hospitalized. Eight fans were killed Saturday at the California 200 race in the Mojave Desert when a truck went out of control after a jump and hit a crowd lining the course.
As critics continue to raise questions, in a letter to the BLM, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer urged the implementation of safety precautions to avoid a repeat of the tragedy. In the letter they wrote, “While it is important that we continue to provide opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation on our Nation’s public lands, adequate precautions must be taken to ensure that these activities are conducted safely.” The two senators are asking for details about safety precautions currently in place, whether any blm staff were in attendance at the event and how violations are handled when BLM officials observe them.
The BLM announced Monday it is conducting a national review of the permitting system in place for off-road vehicle events, which are popular on public land throughout California and across the West.
Drivers and the organizer of the event insist the races are safe as long as spectators keep their distance. Richard Sletten has been racing for years in the Lucerne Valley, he said, “People have to police themselves. It’s a rule of thumb to not stand on the outside of a turn and never turn your back to the course.”
A Vegas to Reno off-road race is expected to go on as planned this weekend. Another race in the Lucerne Valley, the same area where the deadly crash occured, is scheduled for Sept. 11th. The races organized by different promoters than this last weekends race. The Bureau of Land Management is in the process of reviewing all currently scheduled races.
The nonprofit organization Fast Aid has set up a fund to help the victims involved in the deadly California 200 crash at www.fast-aid.org.