Yesterday at 12:00pm PST the Bureau of Land Management cancelled the Mojave Off Road Enthusiasts 10th Annual Powder Puff Race for a Cure, set for Saturday, October 17th.
That’s right. A mere four days before the green flag, with 75 cars signed up, all with female drivers and co-drivers, the BLM pulled the plug, citing a lack of staff to cover the event.
The race is held every year in Barstow, CA on public lands. As such, the BLM is required to attend to enforce spectator and environmental rules.
Last week the BLM voiced its concern about available personnel. MORE attempted to work within the government agency’s constraints by shortening the race course and removing all road crossings and outlying pits to lessen the demand on BLM staff.
Cody Jeffers, race director of MORE, applied for permits on April 20th, a full 180 days before the race was to be held, as per BLM rules.
Since 2006 the Powder Puff has raised over $500,000 for Cedar Sinai Breast Center. Additionally, it has given many women their first opportunity to get behind the wheel of an off road race car. Often times, these ladies go on to race for points during the regular season.
This is not the first time the race has been cancelled. During the government shut down of 2013, the race found itself without a home. Holly Bechard and Julie Pierce scrambled and were able to work with Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernadino, turning the desert endurance race into a short course race in three short days.
“The BLM should think about what we’re trying to do, rather looking at the money that needs to be spent. There are so many people who volunteer their time to put this race on, we just wish the BLM would step up and volunteer their time too,” says Bechard.
Unfortunately, Glen Helen already has a race scheduled for this coming weekend. Other short course venues like Primm, NV or Lake Elsinore, CA were either already booked or too short of a course for the amount of cars competing.
There was a possibility of holding the race in California City, however MORE legally needs about 10 acres to safely stage the race at the start/finish line. Only 4 acres are available.
The race can’t be moved to other BLM lands in the area due to that pesky 180 day rule.
The Powder Puff has been rescheduled for November 21st. This was the only date the BLM had open on their schedule. Unfortunately this is also the weekend of the biggest off road race of the year, the SCORE Baja 1000. Entries for the Powder Puff will undoubtedly drop as many of the cars and pit support teams will be at the 1000.
November 21st is also the start of the Thanksgiving season, and places like Dumont Dunes and Glamis will most likely require all BLM agents. It seems unlikely that there will be enough to cover the Powder Puff as well.
The BLM and race organizations have been working harder than ever since the Mojave Desert Racing crash in 2010, which killed 8 people and injured 12. Both camps understand that safety is paramount and do all they can to keep spectators and racers safe.
“We just hope people will still come out and camp on Saturday and have a good time,” said Jeffers.
The BLM did not respond to requests for a comment.
If you would like to give your opinion to the BLM about this matter, you can talk to Katrina Symons in the Barstow Field Office at 760-252-6000.