"ACT OF GOD" FLARES MORE THAN TEMPERS IN FIREWORKS 250
Barstow, Calif (July 1, 1995) -- SpeedNet -- A brushfire interrupted the 24th annual SCORE Fireworks 250 off-road race for periods of a few minutes up to an hour today, but Bob Gordon of Orange, Calif., had already sped through the burn area by then to win in his Chenowth-Porsche at an average speed of 49.568 mph.
Gordon, father of Indy car driver Robby Gordon, who had races in the SCORE Tecate Trophy-Truck race the day before, covered the 248.48-mile race in 5:00:58. He won by more than 10 minutes over Ray Croll of Corona in a Jimco-Toyota.
Farther back in the field, however, tempers flared when Bureau of Land Management rangers and firemen from the U.S. Forestry Service closed the course near a brushfire that burned an estimated 400 acres on a hillside near a racing checkpoint.
Faster classes had cleared the checkpoint before federal officials shut down the race, but for those drivers who didn't, they had to sit at an intersection of dirt roads and wait -- some not very patiently -- until the fire mostly burned itself out, SCORE International vice-president Paul Fish said. Four drivers who didn't wait were penalized at a hearing after the race, losing one position each in the final standings.
Fish argued for permission to continue the race, and after 56 minutes of waiting, he was allowed to escort competitors past the fire lanes one at a time, 30-seconds apart. Hours later there were still complaints over unfair advantages the course closure gave some race drivers as the drivers waited for awards presentations to be held. Race officials countered by saying fire and subsequent delay was "an act of God."
Fish said fire fighters were on the scene with a helicopter, three fire trucks and four support vehicles. The U.S. Forestry Service was aided by BLM personnel and units of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
by Deke Houlgate, for SpeedNet