UPDATE: On Monday, Jan. 4, Best in the Desert announced they will NOT have spectating and camping fees at the 2021 Parker 425. All spectators and crews will still have to follow the coronavirus COVID-19 rules and protocols.
More changes have been announced for the BlueWater Resort Parker 425 Presented by Jimco off-road race set for Jan. 14-16. In addition to moving the race entirely onto land held by the Bureau of Land Management, there will be a vehicle entry fee for spectators. Spectators will also be required to follow and the protocols mandated by Best in the Desert Racing Association’s COVID-19 Mitigation Plan, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing on BLM lands.
Among the other changes, BITD said the move to Shea Road on BLM land also means there will be no time trials.
In a posting on their Facebook page, BITD said all spectators will be required to do the following:
Pay a $40 entry fee per vehicle.
Sign a BITD COVID-19/Spectator Release
Wear a supplied arm band at all times
Display a BITD Spectator sticker in their vehicle window
Abide by the mandated Parker 425 COVID Mitigation Plan
Masks and other coronavirus COVID-19 protocols are recommended for the events scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14 in downtown Parker, including registration, the Event Expo, Technical Inspection, and the Downtown Experience street fair. However, face masks will be mandatory at all race events on BLM land.
“You will be asked to leave if you do not follow these simple rules,” a statement on the BITD’s Facebook page says. “No exceptions.”
“Masks will be required by all Best in the Desert participants, racers, pit crews, and most important of all, spectators while in any designated pits areas including the start/finish lines and anywhere while on BLM land,” Race Operations Manager Jeff Phillips said. “We will also be enforcing social distancing protocol and will not be holding large group gatherings in any way, shape, or form.”
Phillips went on to say the mandatory drivers’ meeting will be held virtually on-line, and technical inspection will be strictly a drive-through affair.
Checkpoints will be set up on both Shea Road and Swansea Road leading to the pit and spectator areas. There will be separate lanes for racers and spectators. Racers will be on the left, and spectators on the right. Arm bands and window stickers will be required to pass the checkpoints. You can pick these up at registration. BITD advises that you allow extra time to get to the pit and spectator areas on race day.
The statement on BITD’s Facebook page said they are acting out of respect for the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Town of Parker and out of concern for the health of everyone involved.
BITD explained that the move to Shea Road means they will not be able to hold time trials this year.
“Because the area off Shea Rd. is only closed for the two days of actual racing that the BLM permit originally established, Best in the Desert will not be able to hold a Time Trials before the event,” they said on their Facebook page.
On Dec. 29, the Colorado River Indian Tribes announced they would be closing Tribal land for the races due to a sharp increase in the number of new coronavirus cases among Tribal members. BITD had a contingency plan to hold the race entirely on BLM land. The new starting line will be on Shea Road above Osborne Wash, which is near where the starting line for the old Parker 400 was located. The race itself has been shortened by about 25 miles.
The race will not be able to start on California Avenue in downtown Parker because this would mean the racers would have to traverse Tribal land to get to the course. The Parker Python and the main pit area, which have been very popular with spectators and campers, will not be available as they sit on Tribal land near Avi Suquilla Airport.
The BlueWater Resort & Casino is open, but all special events have been cancelled until further notice. As a result, registration, contingency and technical inspection, which had been held at the BlueWater since 2003, have been moved to downtown Parker.
“Our COVID-19 mitigation efforts in 2020 proved highly successful as none of our 2020 events contributed to overall levels of COVID-19 in any of the communities in which we were guests, and we plan to keep that record intact,” Phillips said.
The new race schedule can be found on the Best in the Desert website: https://bitd.com/race-event/2021-parker-425/and registration will be open until Jan. 10, 2021. Interested racers can register here: https://zone4.ca/register.asp?id=25046&lan=1&cartlevel=1.