A man involved in a deadly 2010 racing crash in the Mojave Desert is back on the racetrack, this time taking the wheel at the San Diego County Fair.
Brett Sloppy, of San Marcos, hit the track Thursday at the Del Mar Arena inside the fairgrounds.
It’s been nearly three years since Sloppy was involved in a fatal off-road racing crash that killed eight spectators in the Mojave Desert, including four San Diegans.
On August 14, 2010, Sloppy was racing in the California 200 when his modified Ford Ranger truck accidentally plowed into a crowd of fans lining the course. The truck hurled over a jump and struck a group of fans, pinning some underneath the vehicle, while sending others flying into a cloud of dust.
Eight people were killed, including four local residents: Michael Dickinson, 34, of Spring Valley; Escondido resident Brian Wolfin, 27; Escondido resident Anthony Sanchez; 23; and Escondido resident Aaron Farkas, 25.
Several more spectators were injured in the horrific crash.
The crowd, which included children, was standing within 10 feet of the track with no guardrails separating them from the speeding vehicles, an investigation revealed.
In the wake of the deadly accident, California’s U.S. senators pressed the Bureau of Land Management to provide data on off-road racing on public lands, including safety violations in past races.
In November 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management determined that its staff had failed to follow established procedures for permitting and monitoring the off-road race in the Mojave Desert.
An internal review found BLM Staff in Barstow, Calif., did not hold a pre-race consultation with race promoters. Additionally, a ranger assigned to patrol the area did not monitor the event, the investigation revealed.
On Thursday, both race organizers and fans alike welcomed Sloppy back to the track.
Though many fans of racing would like to forget the tragic 2010 accident, it still serves as a stark reminder of the need of safety at present-day racing events and beyond.
It is a moment in the sport most would like to forget but it is the stark reminder of the need for safety at such events.
What it must have taken to get Brett Sloppy back in the driver's seat only he knows for sure but the fans love this extreme sport.
“I like that's it's family friendly the kids get to come and they enjoy it,” Race Fan Jennifer Peterson said.
The Peterson family perched near arena edge, yet did so without fear.
“They control it very well keeping everybody back . These guys are real drivers and they're really on it,” Derek Peterson said.
Other drivers at the "Tuff Trucks" race say it could have happened to anyone.
“I hate to dwell on that it was just an unfortunate accident,” Driver Tony Cortes said.
“It was nothing that was his error. It was a horrible horrible thing that happened. The fact that this young man can still enjoy the sport I think is cool,” Organizer John Borba said.
Race Organizer John Borba says the fairgrounds arena is reinforced. There are two levels of concrete barricades.
The jumps are graded and measured to reduce the probability of rollovers and situated in the center of the ring.
Fans are discouraged from getting any closer than the third row.
“The odds of dealing with the highway out here driving was far greater then dealing with what's going to happen out here,” Borba said.
Through the race organizer, Sloppy turned down an interview.