UPDATE: A new statement from BITD President Bryan Folks apologizing for the cancellation is included below. Folks said he takes “full responsibility” and does “not begrudge” the Bureau of Land Management. “We did not provide a satisfactory action plan on how we would control the spectators in 2023.”
Race fans were met with disappointing news late on Tuesday: the legendary Parker 425 off-road race, with roots going back decades, is off for 2023, along with the Parker 250. According to sources, the cancellation is happening because of a denied permit by the Bureau of Land Management. But some are blaming race organizers Best In The Desert for dropping the ball, saying that they failed to address necessary issues in their permit application.
Citing “circumstances that surfaced,” Best In The Desert (BITD) co-owner Bryan Folks didn’t go into detail about the reasons for the cancellation in Tuesday’s announcement. “We have made the difficult decision to cancel the Parker 250 and Parker 425. These two Parker AZ races are set to reconvene in 2024, at a date to be announced.”
According to sources, the problem started during the race last January, after which the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) listed some issues which BITD would need to address for future races. A spokesperson for the BLM Field Office responsible for the permit would not go into detail, but Parker Live asked what kinds of things are addressed in the permitting process.
“Public safety is the number one issue always,” the spokesperson said. “Archeology is another. There are many things that need to be addressed by an event plan before an event can go ahead.”
Sources say that the issues from the 2022 race were not sufficiently addressed by BITD, and that the permit was denied without enough time to appeal the decision or rectify the issues.
Another potential complication may be the death of a media person at the last BITD race, in Laughlin, Nevada in October. A UTV jumped, landing on its front end and veering off the course, according to the Mohave Valley Daily News. A camera person was killed, leading to speculation that BLM may be more stringent in its safety requirements going forward.
Local entities appear to support the race to various degrees, including BLM.
“We encourage these events, it’s great for the local economy,” the BLM spokesperson said. “We just need to make sure all T’s are crossed and all I’s are dotted.”
Thousands of people arrive in the Parker area up to three times a year for Best In The Desert races, an organization started by Folks’ late father Casey Folks, running a race that goes back many decades to the 1970s. The race has been praised for being one where federal, county, municipal, tribal and private entities come together to put on a safe event that is great for spectators.
Daryl Folks, co-owner and CEO, said, “Racers who have registered will have several options for their registration fees, including transferring fees to another race or races, or full refunds. We appreciate the support of the Best In The Desert racing community, and we look forward to seeing many of you at the new Golden State 250 event on February 17-19, 2023.”
BITD says the Parker events will be back in 2024.
UPDATE: Full statement from Bryan Folks
Hello everyone, on behalf of myself and the team at BITD we appreciate your time.
First and foremost, please know the following, the Future of off-road racing with BITD is as strong as it has ever been.
We at BITD are heavily invested in the long-term growth of our series and the entire sport. We hope the next few min will answer many of your recent questions & concerns.
My message to you today is to provide a clear direction on the future of off-road racing with BITD. Firstly, to address the recent cancellation of the Parker Events.
As acting president and the director of day-to-day operations I take full responsibility for the cancellation of these events. To our racing community, to the town and businesses of Parker AZ, to the Mohave County and all involved, you have my most sincere apologies. We know how much this event means to you all.
When BITD moved the Parker events-main pit from the CRIT land to the old Parker side main pit onto exclusive BLM land it changed the event in more ways than most can understand. When the event was run on CRIT land the spectators were much more spread out and easier to manage and control.
When the event main pit moved to Shea Road all of our spectators also relocated. An estimated 15 to 20k spectators now congregated into a small area causing more than a few challenges. The largest of these challenges was how to effectively control spectators at this event. There were several promoter infractions that we incurred at the 2022 Parker event, of which we addressed in our operations plan for 2023. However, the major infraction in 2022 was controlling the spectators.
The resounding factor that caused BLM to deny our 2023 race permit was due to the fact that we did not provide a satisfactory action plan on how we would control the spectators in 2023. We do not begrudge the BLM! The BLM are our partners, and we ultimately agree with their decision in regards to this year’s Parker Events. BITD is in the process of managing these spectator issues for future events.
Moving forward into the future, BITD will be installing a full-time safety and security team to participate at all events. After the intimate review of the current situation we feel this is our best step forward. It is our determination that such action will not only secure the survival of BITD, but also ensure the survival of all off-road racing that we all love so dearly!
As I said earlier – The Future of off road racing with BITD is stronger than ever! And now we are taking measures.
BITD is heavily invested in the long-term growth of this series. We have publicly shared our 2023 and future growth plan in an extensive series deck you will find it available now on our website in the coming days. The purpose of this outline is to give not only our invested partners & sponsors a clear path forward, but this is also for each of you to continue building your future plans with BITD. We developed this as a tool for you to share with your current and future sponsors. The health of each racer and team is equally important to the growth of our community.
SCHEDULE: due to the Parker events we have revised the 2023 schedule. However, you can confidently know we have a commitment to return to Parker in 2024.
IN CLOSING I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME GREAT NEW & PROGRESSIVE INFORMATION FOR 2023
In addition to securing familiar series sponsors, BITD has many new partnerships in development for 2023 including some big brand names! We are excited to share this news in the near future.
BITD is in the process of aggressively growing our UTV racing efforts. The past 6 months we have been in direct and harmonious discussions with every OEM manufacturer for 2023 planning. We are preparing to make a significant announcement and a first of its kind for off road racing before the end of year!
BITD is committed to growing our live TV package with Ryde TV and our continued CBS Sports Relationship.
BITD – has revised its numbering system for those of you that earn a series championship you will now have the opportunity to own this number the following season.
Because BTID is the proving grounds for off road racing in the US we will be offering “BITD Best In Class Performance Awards” to OEM & Performance Product Categories. This is a big opportunity to talk to your current and future sponsors. These end of season awards can be used to broadcast to their community that they have earned the coveted “BITD Best in Class Award” proving their products outshined all the rest!
THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE BIG CHANGES HAPPENING FOR THE BITD COMMUNITY.
WE HOPE THIS MESSAGE CLARIFIED CONCERNS AND MOST IMPORTANT PROVIDES YOU NEW HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF DESERT RACING WITH BITD.