ARTICLE UPDATED 12/30/2020 to add CRIT reaction to the race still being on.
The BlueWater Parker 425 off-road race is still on in January, with a slightly different course after a decision by the Colorado River Indian Tribes to cancel the portion of the event that takes place on reservation lands.
At 4:26 pm on Tuesday, Parker Live received an official press release from the Tribes, calling the race “cancelled”. But within 20 minutes of publication of the decision, Best in the Desert had posted an update to its Facebook page, saying that they have had contingency plans for such an event, and that the race would be on.
“We want to let our racers and fans know that the BlueWater Parker 425 Presented by Jimco Racing is on despite the recent announcement by CRIT,” an announcement by Best in the Desert reads. “Best In The Desert has been working on a contingency plan with the Bureau of Land Management and our other partners from the Town of Parker for over three months in anticipation we would not be able to use CRIT reservation land, and we’re full steam ahead. The new Start/Finish will be on Shea Road, similar to the traditional start/finish of the historic Parker 400 event. The race will still be three laps but slightly shorter mileage overall, just shy of 400 miles. The event schedule along with the Pre-Fun Run scheduled for January 8th – 10th will remain the same.”
The legendary off-road race usually takes place partly on tribal land with a street start on California Avenue in the town of Parker, and the Best in the Desert racing association, CRIT, the Town of Parker and BLM are involved each year on making it happen, along with the other off-road races in the calendar.
But a recent surge in cases of coronavirus led to the decision by the Tribes. Indian Health Services has reported 141 new cases between December 1st and 27th. The statistics are expected to escalate as recent reports continue to come in. Overall, La Paz County has reported 473 cases between December 1st and December 29th, from 874 cases to 1347 cases. This includes a handful of delayed cases reported from November. On December 24th, CRIT also reinstated the previously approved ‘Stay at Home Order,’ also known as resolution 54-20. That order will remain in effect until at least January 31st.
In response to the Best in the Desert decision to keep the race going, CRIT expressed disappointment in a statement on Facebook.
“From our point of view we were hoping that the race would understand and cancel the event for the safety of the community. Apparently that is not what the Best in the Desert chose to do. We won’t speculate as to their reasons but I think it’s clear that our only concern is the safety of our people. Once again, CRIT stands alone in this fight against the pandemic as there has not been any support from the Town of Parker or La Paz county since it began. This was not a decision that Best in the Desert had not already discussed with us they understood the possibility of our involvement ending. The influx of thousands of racing spectators would drastically increase the number of COVID-19 cases on the CRIT Reservation when the pandemic is already reaching alarming numbers.”
The Parker 425 is a decades-old tradition in the Parker area, and is known for being especially suitable for spectators. The off-road racing schedule was impacted significantly across the United States during 2020 due to the pandemic.
Full schedules can be found at Best in the Desert’s website HERE.