I turned on my computer this morning and the top news item on my home page was about a horrible crash that killed 8 people and hurt 12 more.
A witness said the crash scattered “bodies everywhere.” After the vehicle went airborne it landed on spectators. Bystanders rushed in to help those pinned by the vehicle.
The race is called the California 200 and takes place near Bessemer Mine Road at Soggy Dry Lake in Lucerne Valley, CA. The course length is 50 miles.
The driver, who as far as I can tell hasn’t been identified yet, lost control of his vehicle and reportedly went airborne before going off the course and rolling over spectators who were located approx. 10 feet from the course. There was reportedly no safety barrier.
According to the Associated Press, “[a witness] said that the driver, who wasn’t named, was forced to run from the scene when the crowd grew unruly and some began throwing rocks at him. It was not clear why he lost control of the truck.”
I haven’t been able to find the name of the driver in news reports. However, a photograph in the LA Times clearly shows the wording “Misery Motorsports” on the upside-down vehicle. I did some checking and found a MySpace page for Misery Motorsports that contains the name “Brett Sloppy,” who is listed as a 28-year-old male. A Bretty Sloppy was a registered race participant in the “1500 Class” per the MDR Racing web site.
Note: I’m not claiming to know the name of the driver. This is just some information that I found.
The main reason I take an interest in this horrible story is the human behavior that took place after the crash. As far as I can tell there is no indication this was anything other than a very unfortunate accident. Yet some in the crowd apparently were angry and something like a mob mentality set in. I wasn’t there, but it seems as if while some persons were in need of urgent medical attention, others were directing their energies against the driver by throwing rocks.
I also don’t understand our obsessive adoration for vehicle races powered by the internal combustion engine. In our society there is little worshiped more than the all-powerful internal combustion engine. Perhaps it even outranks television and cell phones. As far as “sports” go I’ve never understood the attraction of watching internal combustion engines go round and round in circles, but hey, that’s just me.
Since I’ve never attended an internal combustion engine “sporting” festival, I don’t understand things like: Why do spectators have to be so close to observe the event? It seems to me that it would be wise to calculate the “danger area” where accidents could conceivably happen and keep observers out of that area. I can’t see a valid reason to have spectators in that danger area. Perhaps it is the thrill of danger? If so, the seeking of danger does not magically eliminate the actual risk.
Thinking about it, I can recall incidents where vehicles (like cars and boats) have flown off race courses and injured people before.
It all seems pretty crazy to me.
UPDATE: This text was recently posted on Brett Sloppy’s Facebook page. “Soo incredibly lost and devistated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the familys and friends involved.. Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even thru these tragic times I love you all.”