ORBA Hosts Desert Racing Roundtable at the 2011 SEMA Show


  The 2011 SEMA Show was largely attended by professionals from all segments of the automotive specialty-parts industry, including desert racing.

By Jeff Knoll

The Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and SEMA partnered to bring the desert racing community together for a roundtable discussion during the 2011 SEMA Show. The panel included leadership of Best in the Desert (BITD), Valley Off-Road Racing (VORRA), Ultra4 Racing (KOH), Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts (SNORE), Mad Media (Mint 400), High Desert Racing Association (HDRA), Mojave Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE), International Side X Side Association (ISA), U.S. Desert Racing (USDR) and American Motorcyclist Association District 37 (AMA D 37).

Topics included a unified effort to increase safety standards and the overall experience for race teams and fans. Of course, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit issues were the hottest topic of the meeting, with a focus on the different methods of management between BLM field offices in California, Arizona and Nevada. Promoters are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of oversight regarding costs and resource damage accusations by BLM field offices.

The promoter’s council agreed on a plan to develop a uniform pit design so that racers will establish a connection across sanctions on what a safe pit design looks like. Items from road crossings, to media credentials policy and safe distances for spectators where discussed.

The group of promoters concurred that working together and sharing best practices among the leadership can only help and promote the sport. The meeting was organized by ORBA at the request of its board of directors. ORBA business members dropped in at different times during the meeting to check up on the progress. In addition, ORBA arranged for “Tread Lightly” to attend in an effort to help coordinate an educational partnership for volunteer training and the possibility of presenting a guideline for education on topics from event monitoring to desert tortoise management to safety issues.

The promoters group will meet again under the direction of ORBA in January to continue the discussion and help pave the way for further solidarity regarding off-road racing standards. Long-term goals will be the topic of the next meeting as well as the continued best practices model to define basic safety issues.

Event promoters who are actively engaged in the organization of off-road events on public and private land are encouraged to contact ORBA for information on attending our next roundtable session.


Jeff Knoll is the former event director for the King of the Hammers event. He has raced various classes in SCORE, BITD, MORE and MDR. Following the California 200, Knoll travelled to Washington, D.C., to meet with BLM officials regarding the Special Recreation Permit policies of the BLM. Knoll serves on the BLM’s Desert Advisory Sub-Committee regarding Special Recreation Permits. Knoll also drafted language for Nevada’s Senate Bill 156 in 2011 regarding action sports safety.