Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Off-Road Race Crash

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will review Saturday's off-road race crash that killed eight spectators in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a spokeswoman with the bureau's California office said.
My condolences and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones or were hurt themselves by this terrible mishap.  Also I couldn't imagine what the driver is going through right now.

As an ex-off road racer, as well as a spectator at numerous events, I know that:
1) Spectators want to be as close to the racers as possible when they pass by them.
2) Spectators don't want to see you go by on a smooth flat piece of land.  They usually will congregate at the gnarliest, roughest sections to see the best action.
3) Off road courses are 50 to 100 miles in length.  There is absolutely NO WAY a race promoter can set up barriers for the whole race.

Depending on how close spectators crowd up against the race course, this can become very dangerous.  The racer has to either:
1) slow down for the spectators safety and risk someone passing him (off road racers can work for 10-20 miles trying to get around someone and you sure don't want to give up a position as a freebie to another racer who doesn't care about the spectators safety)
2) focus on the race and not worry about the spectators
3) try to do both

"You could touch it if you wanted to. It's part of the excitement," said 19-year-old Niky Carmikle, who stood sobbing over a makeshift memorial on the spot of the crash Sunday. Her boyfriend, 24-year-old Zachary Freeman of Ventura, was killed in the crash. "There's always that risk factor, but you just don't expect that it will happen to you."
Just as Niky stated above, spectators know the risks. At some off road events I have been to (as a spectator), you have to sign a form acknowledging that they (promoter/racetrack) are not responsible for any personal injury. They (spectators) should be responsible for their own safety.  A race promoter cannot police 50 to 100 miles of course to make sure that someone is not where they shouldn't be.  Racers put their lives on the line, likewise, spectators take their lives in their own hands as well.  Most of them (spectators) are there to see a good crash, but it's tragic when something like this happens. I just hate to see the lawyers, BLM and our politicians come in and try to make sense out of something they don't understand.  Look at what they have done for the rest of the country.