Screenshot: Armando Ventura (Facebook)

Desert racing really is like Mad Max’s world of fire and blood. While ramming competitors out of your path is generally against racing rules and unsportsmanlike, racers do occasionally nerf each other. When these crashes are captured with a helicopter camera, they’re pretty wild to watch.

This video of a Class 10 Alumi Craft buggy (1003) overtaking and basically booting a Class 11 stock VW Bug (5181) into the dust at the 2018 Mint 400 just popped up in a Class 11 Junkies Facebook group courtesy of a Mr. Armando Ventura. His name is listed on the Bug’s team in the official race entry list, so I shot him a Facebook message and he told me everyone was OK after the incident, but clearly wasn’t happy that his team’s car got shunted off the race line like this.

Can’t say I blame him. I don’t believe the 1003 buggy hit the VW on purpose, as that wouldn’t make any kind of sense, but it sure does look like there were other lines the faster car could have taken to make a safer and more courteous pass here.

The buggy and its driver of record Christian Fessler apparently went on to finish third overall in the Las Vegas desert race. But as you can probably guess, the Mint 400 finisher’s list does not include the bounced Bug.

At least a couple off-road related Facebook groups I lurk in were discussing the incident this week and whether or not the faster buggy intentionally wrecked the VW. Again, I don’t think so. It does look like the VW got hit with a few bits of bad luck simultaneously–If you pause the video right at the moment the cars connect, it seems like the VW’s suspension was completely used up on a huge bump at almost the same moment the big buggy ate a piece of vegetation and got sent rightwards into the VW’s lane.

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Maybe the VW could have gotten out of the faster car’s way more quickly, but I think generally speaking the responsibility to pass safely falls on the more capable vehicle that’s trying to advance through the field.

Many say “rubbing’s racing” and to a degree, it is, but we’re all trying to have fun and not die out there. Take care of each other and try not to run other cars of the road next time you’re charging across the desert.