U.S. agency OKs off-road race in Mojave Desert a week after fatal crash

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Friday that it has approved an off-road vehicle race this weekend in the Mojave Desert, where eight people were killed Aug. 14 during a similar race when a truck lost control and rolled into a crowd of spectators.

The agency approved this weekend's race, presented by the American Motorcycle Assn., after a "very detailed" review and a "thorough assessment of public safety and crowd-control requirements," BLM Director Bob Abbey said in a statement.

The agency will increase the number of BLM agents at the Johnson Valley race and other such events it permits in the future, he said.

In addition to the deaths, 10 people were injured in the Aug. 14 race organized by Mojave Desert Racing Productions, based in South El Monte. Video of the race showed the vehicles speeding along bumpy roads only feet from spectators.

The BLM has suspended all off-road racing events sponsored by Mojave Desert Racing while an investigation into the tragedy at the California 200 off-road race continues.

The BLM has issued more than 100 permits for off-road racing this year.

"When we permit any activity on the public lands, our first priority is public and employee safety and health," Abbey said. "We will look at these requests carefully and consider the safety record of the individual or organization requesting a permit."

The bureau manages some 245 million acres of public land, mostly in 12 Western states.


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