The future of off-road racing in the Superstition Mountain has been questioned, as local race organizers try to deal with newly-enforced procedures and costs.
“Basically all the races are in jeopardy, and some have been canceled,” said Roadrunner Off-Road Racing President Chip Corfman.
The motorcycle racing group is a not-for-profit organization, and the Bureau of Land Management began enforcing stricter regulations, he said Tuesday before the county Board of Supervisors. The bureau is also recouping costs for the review process and to have rangers, leaving the racing group to have to pay more to host its events.
The group has kept jumping hurdles when trying to get permits for its races, though it already had tighter rules than the bureau required, including a 15 mph speed limit in the pit area of races, Corfman said. It could put Roadrunner racing and other groups out of business.
The change stems from an accident in mid-August where eight spectators of the California 200 in Johnson Valley were killed and a dozen more injured. The bureau released a report in November, saying the bureau did not adhere to its own permitting procedures for the race.
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Local offices were told to now closely adhere to the regulations, though every race has different needs, said Jan Bedrosian with the bureau. Some events require fewer bureau personnel based on the number of participants, while other events may call for more staff.
“As we’re reviewing the races, our regulations do require us to recover costs from those who are applying for use of public land,” she said.
There will be some impact on race organizers, Bedrosian said. However, the bureau is trying to permit as many events as possible and work with organizers.
The bottom line is, though, that if the bureau can’t meet the requirements to fill its own regulations — like having a certain level of staffing — then races will not be permitted, she said. It’s all about making sure the public is safe.
Supervisor Gary Wyatt sees it in a different way.
The race where spectators were killed was tragic, but the results seem like an overreaction, he said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The local racing groups have self-policed themselves to stricter standards than what was required and haven’t had such an incident.
It’s going to shoot down almost all events in the off-road racing areas, he said.
He and Supervisor Raymond Castillo will work with the Roadrunners club to see what solutions can come out of it, Wyatt said.
“Public land should be public,” he said. “It’s as clear as that.”
There’s been racing in the Superstition Mountain area for about 50 years, Roadrunner past president Paul Kirby said. He’s worried that the fees and permits could change that.
“We’ve got an uphill battle,” he said.
At least one race has already been canceled and one more in the permitting process might not happen.
Mojave Desert Racing’s New Years Day race was canceled because the bureau said it wouldn’t have the manpower to send to Plaster City for the race, according to a notice from MDR. The group would not comment on the permitting process.
Another racing group from San Diego may not hold its race scheduled in February, Kirby said. Getting a permit used to be a few hundred dollars, but could cost thousands now.
Kirby has met with bureau officials this week and said he is going to set up an appointment with Wyatt to give more information about the problems the racing groups are facing.
“I’m still optimistic. I think once we get people sat down and all the facts come out we’ll be able to save our season,” Kirby said.
Newly enforced regulations
— Jan Bedrosian, Bureau of Land Management representative
Newly enforced regulations
Organizers can’t afford high fees
Races get canceled
Local stores and services impacted
— Paul Kirby, past president of Roadrunner Off-Road Racing
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.