Accident at off-road race in California kills 8 spectators

This race may by definition be as far off from Formula 1 as possible, but the story still is a reminder that the motor racing we all follow can be a dangerous, deadly game.

Eight spectators died late Saturday after a truck competing in the California 200 off-road race flipped over and then landed — yes, landed — on them. Dozens more people were injured.

Here are some details:

Authorities said eight people were killed and dozens injured when a driver racing in the California 200 desert race in Lucerne Valley lost control of his off-roader, which went airborne and landed on top of spectators.

“He got airborne and when he landed, rolled over straight into the spectators,’’ said Office Joaquin Zubieta of the California Highway Patrol, the agency investigating the deadly crash. “People didn’t have much of a chance … to get out of the way.’’


The ages of those killed ranged from the early 20s to late 40s. The names were withheld pending positive identification and notification of family.

The 200-mile race, held on desolate Soggy Dry Lake on federal desert land just east of the San Bernardino Mountains, was sanctioned by Mojave Desert Racing and is part of a seven race circuit. Off roaders race around the 50-mile long loop four times and hit speeds topping 60 mph.

The white truck that plowed into the crowd remained at the scene, upside down, into the early morning hours as CHP investigators crawled over the vehicle to search for any mechanical defects and to try to recreate the collision. Sponsorship decals plastered the sides of the truck, with a giant “Misery Motor Sports’’ covering the door.


The spot where the racer lost control is called the “rock pile.’’ The track snakes between giant boulders and up a small hill -– sending many of the off-roaders airborne.

On Saturday, hundreds of spectators crowded around the landing site, some just a few feet from the main dirt track. Empty beer bottles and water bottles littered the area where the deadly collision occurred.

The scene of spectators watching at a “landing” area sounds a bit like rallying, huh? Or maybe along stretches of Le Mans?

Condolences from F1B to all those killed and injured and to their families. A sad reminder, again, that this sport still is inherently dangerous.

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