The Parker 425 off-road race is next week. We would ask that everyone be patient with Best in the Desert Racing Association. They are trying to hold this event in the middle of a pandemic while working with entities that keep changing the rules. It’s tough enough putting events like these together under normal circumstances.
One BITD spokesperson said they’ve had to “jump through a lot of hoops” just to keep this race going this year.
The race was in the news this past week, but not for the reasons you’d expect. Like just about everything else these days, it caused controversy. As you might expect, it went back to that nasty little bug that has influenced everything, the coronavirus (COVID-19).
First, we learned the Colorado River Indian Tribes had cancelled the race, which was set for Jan. 13-16. Then, Best in the Desert Racing Association, the organizers of the race, announced they had a contingency plan to hold the race entirely on land held by the Bureau of Land Management. The events set for downtown Parker would go on as scheduled, with social distancing rules in place.
(The Parker Pioneer is hoping to get maps of the new course as soon as they’re available. We’ll post them online, and we’ll hopefully have them in our Parker 425 guide or in the Jan. 13 print edition of the Pioneer).
The reactions to these developments on our website and Facebook page were interesting, to say the least. The Tribes’ expressed their disappointment, and some commentators expressed both disappointment and anger. There were claims the Town of Parker, the BLM and the race organizers didn’t care about the health of local residents and Tribal members.
Some called for closing down the CRIT reservation to everyone except residents and delivery trucks.
The Tribes also said they were the only entity in the area doing anything controlling the pandemic.
A lot of this could’ve been avoided if the local entities had been working together on this race. Parker Town Manager Lori Wedemeyer said she was not consulted by the Tribes about cancelling the portions of the race on their land. She was as surprised as everyone else.
The Tribes seem to forget sometimes that they are not isolated and are not an island. They are sovereign for sure, and what they do with their land is their own business. However, what they do also affects their neighbors. We are all one community. It seems to me that a coordinated approach to the pandemic, which would require cooperation from all the entities involved, would be better than the piecemeal “Surprise!” approach that we’ve seen.
As for keeping the virus out, it’s already here. There have been more than 1,600 cases in La Paz County, about 40 percent of which were in the last month. Who’s to say if a more coordinated response would’ve been more effective in holding down the spread.
One of the common threads in the comments on the website and Facebook page is, if the Tribes are so concerned about the coronavirus, why is the BlueWater still open?
There are several reasons for this, but the most obvious one is the Tribes need the revenue from the BlueWater. One could argue that businesses in Parker and the Town of Parker itself need the revenue from the race. That’s why the race is still going on.
This is a conundrum that’s taking place across the nation, at all levels of government. Do you shut everything down and try to keep the virus from spreading, and do you open things up so people have jobs and the economy doesn’t fall apart? This is one of those questions that’s not easy to answer.
Another controversy that arose when BITD announced they would be charging $40 per spectator vehicle. That was reversed on Monday, Jan. 4, but the reaction on our website and Facebook page was been almost universally negative. However, we did have one commentator who said a lot of event promoters find themselves having to charge a lot more for things because of all the coronavirus regulations they have to meet.
From what we’ve been told, the fee came from the BLM, not BITD. Apparently, it was determined by the BLM they couldn’t do this, so the fee was dropped.
As was noted, BITD is dealing with entities that often change the rules.
Maybe what it all boils down to is this is what off-road racing and other events have become in the age of the coronavirus. Until this thing dies down, we’re bound to see a lot of things change. It will be a while before things get back to “normal.”
I sometimes wonder if those little viruses are laughing at us humans and our attempt to stop their spread.
As someone I know once said, “A virus is going to do what a virus is going to do.”