Thursday, May 15, 2008

Baja race crowd accidents and their consequences

When will the next bad accident happen?
Baja Racing

Robby Gordon at the start of the Baja 1000. This could be described as incidental contact. The off road fans, crowds, spectators are all over the course. On the course, their friends are shoving them into the course of oncoming 100 mph, 3-6,000 pound battering rams, the racing trucks. Some fans even reach out to touch the racing trucks as they speed by.

This video is of Francisco Monroy at last years Baja 1000. The very first reports of problems at the race came from Ensenada, from this accident. Before the helicopter crash, before the rancher stopping race cars extorting them for 'ranch passage charges', (we'll talk more about the ranch charges later). As you can see, the racer slid into the crowd, seriously injuring two people. The police arrested Francisco. He and his race car were held for days as the authorities decided how much money he and his team were going to pay. It took a long time, the Baja Sudocalifornianos (Southern Baja people) complained about the treatment Francisco received from the Baja Nortenos (North Baja people), there are major differences. Bad enough he was not allowed to finish the race! Damn! He paid thousands and was held too long. Even as a Mexican National, he was mistreated.

This video is of the worst case scenario. An American racer, out of control and barrelling into the crowd, after failing to stay on his wheels. Several people were injured and killed. Without the intervention of SCORE, a racer in this situation would still be in Mexico. This is the topic no-one wants to talk about. Not the sanctioning body, not the racers and certainly not the Mexican insurance company that usually shells out for all the damages of the race. Dead cows, broken fences and injuries to people.

Experts in desert racing know these accidents are due to happen. It's only a matter of time and a matter of degree, what will happen at the next Baja race in Mexico.

Baja Racing