The rock pile during 2008's California 200 race.
By now, you've probably heard about the terrible accident on August 14 at the California 200 race in Lucerne Valley. A number of circumstances combined to present a disaster of the worst kind. Eight people were killed and many others were injured as a truck rolled on top of race enthusiasts standing near the track at a location called "the rock pile."
I was in the middle of a wedding in Colorado when the first message came through. "There's been an accident. It was pretty bad. Where are you now?"
I had many hours to think about everything that was going to happen in the next few days as I sped back from Colorado to my office in Southern California. A number of thoughts raced through my head: "Who got hurt? Who got killed? Did I know any of the victims? Were my guys okay? Which truck was it? Was the media going to blame the driver? Certainly they couldn't-spectators stand near the track at their own risk. Who are they going to talk to?"
All the worst possible scenarios were popping up, and I shuddered at not only the tragedy that happened, but of the aftermath that would affect every off-road enthusiast. I could only imagine what stance the mainstream media was going to take. The off-road community knows it's just a terrible accident with no one to really blame, but did everyone else?
But my fears were unwarranted. In the upcoming days, there were a couple silly news stories regarding the accident, interviewing individuals from the Sierra Club or members of PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Safety). However, many articles, interviews, and news reports concentrated on what they should have concentrated on-the simple facts pertaining to what happened, and remembering the victims and honoring heroes like Andrew Therrien. Therrien managed to save his girlfriend, his 3-year-old daughter, and a friend's 7-year-old son before being struck by the truck himself.
There has been a California 200 fund set up to help victims and families of this terrible incident, and you can go online now to www.fast-aid.org if you'd like to donate and help. Many families have already been contacted and financial assistance has started.
I'd like to give a big thank you to Mango Racing, 4 Wheel Parts, Green Army Racing, Fox Racing Shox, BC Racing, Cameron Steele Desert Assassins/Yokohama TT #16, Race-Dezert.com, JSI Motorsports, Parkhouse Tires, The Factory Racing, Reid Products, and Canidae Racing Team who all quickly made large donations. I'd also like to thank www.fast-aid.org for existing and being there in times such as this.
Lastly, I'd like to give big props to Marty Fiolka of Dirt Sports magazine. Marty, you may work for the competition, but you did a good job on Fox News of representing us all in the aftermath of this incident, and my hat is off to you, sir.
Was a hard one for the off-road community. Not only did we have that bad accident at the California 200, we also lost Frank "Scoop" Vessels in a plane crash earlier that same week. Kevin Blumer did an excellent job writing his firsthand account of the scene at the race as well as remembering Scoop in a piece in our Off-Road Dirt section.
We managed to get a great Chevy special section put together for you this month, too, with ways to lift, strengthen, and improve power on your Chevy off-roader (including some S-10 tech!). We also dropped a badass ATS transmission into our Super Duty project, examined extreme underdrive boxes and semi-floating versus full-floating axles, and went a little further with our XJ Cherokee build.