Bloody brush paints off-road racing

It took one of the worst disasters in American racing to get national headlines for off-road racing. That’s sad for so many reasons.

Eight people were killed and 12 others seriously injured when an off-road truck flipped and rolled into a group of spectators in the Lucerne Valley of Southern California Saturday during a poorly run Mojave Desert Racing event.

Every national television news network featured the horrendous accident Sunday and Monday. The New York Times ran a story comparing off-road racing to the "Mad Max" movie.

Everyone can share responsibility for the fatalities, from spectators who lacked common sense to be so close to high-speed racers to racers who went too fast with crowds in such close proximity.

But the biggest culprits are the race’s promoter and officials who didn’t have adequate personnel to keep spectators far enough from the racing circuit.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Las Vegas-based Best in the Desert organization, which will conduct its annual Vegas to Reno event beginning Friday in Beatty.

BITD and the SCORE Desert Series, which will conduct a race near Primm Sept. 10-12, are the two most professionally run off-road organizations in the country but their reputations have been sullied by the unprofessional and criminal conduct of the minor-league Mojave group.

We’ll revisit this tragedy and the future of open-desert racing in my Friday column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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