By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff
Loren Healy took the checkered flag at last week’s King of the Hammers. His personal victory was also an opportunity to celebrate that the world’s most brutal one-day endurance auto race will continue to be staged in Johnson Valley, California.
Last December, Congress ended a six-year debate between the U.S. Marines Corps and off-highway vehicle (OHV) users over access to thousands of acres of Southern California desert. Lawmakers created the “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area” to protect 96,000 acres originally set aside in 1980 by the State of California for OHV recreation. It marked the first time an OHV area has been provided national recognition. About 79,000 acres were simultaneously transferred to the adjoining Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms.
“Helping to preserve a significant portion of the OHV area was a collaborative effort,” said Chris Kersting, president and CEO of SEMA. “We thank U.S. Representative Paul Cook (R-CA) for the instrumental role he played in working with stakeholder groups to craft the shared-use solution. SEMA shares this achievement with a number of other organizations representing the OHV community—including the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA)—who worked hard to see that this proposed solution became reality.”
The Marines will have shared-use access to 53,000 acres of the OHV area for 30 days of military training exercises, twice per year. However, no dud-producing ordnance will be used at that time in order to assure safety and continued access to the area. The Marines coordinate its activities with the OHV community and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the land during the rest of the year.
Prior to being elected to Congress in 2012, Rep. Cook served a 26-year distinguished military career in the Marine Corps before retiring as a colonel. He has lived for years in the area that includes Johnson Valley and the Twentynine Palms base.
At the King of the Hammers event, Chris Kersting presented a $10,000 check from SEMA to ORBA to help cover the costs associated with the “Save Johnson Valley” efforts. “OHV racing is one of SEMA’s fastest-growing enthusiast markets,” said Kersting. “Many of our member companies provide the equipment necessary for teams to compete and enthusiasts to enjoy the sport. Given the strong interest our members have in preserving Johnson Valley, SEMA welcomed the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps to find a solution that allows for both military training and recreational pursuits.”
For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Left to right) Kurt Miller, national sales director, Dirt Sports magazine/Off-Road Industry magazine; ORBA President and CEO Fred Wiley; Greg Adler, ORBA chairman of the board and president, Transamerican-4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers; SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting; and Stuart Gosswein, SEMA senior director, federal government affairs, after SEMA presented a $10,000 check to ORBA for the “Save Johnson Valley” campaign.
Vehicles that compete in King of the Hammers rock crawl through boulder fields and then race on dry lake beds at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.