Rumors have been circulating that a co-driver was killed during the 2015 Baja 1000 several days ago. I’m sad to report tonight that this has been confirmed.

Ensenada.net says 56-year-old Monte Droogsma of the Mango Racing team was fatally struck by a spec trophy truck while digging a mired vehicle out of a silt bed at Race Mile 436.

Here’s the official statement from Mango Racing:

Team Statement Ingles/Espaniol

In respect to our fallen teammate, his family, those involved, and our grieving team members, Mango Racing has tried to keep our Baja 1,000 experience to ourselves for a few days.

Sadly the desert wasn’t too kind to us this year. We lost a great man to an accident in the silt during the race. One of our co-drivers, Monte Droogsma, was hit by another race vehicle in attempt to dig our truck out of the silt.

Silt can be extremely blinding to drivers and people on the ground alike. All safety precautions were taken, but unfortunately accidents can ALWAYS happen. Monte, may your body rest in peace and your soul wander freely. You will be missed dearly.

Update: Criminal charges are not being pressed against the driver who hit Droogsma, as the incident was ruled a “racing accident.” A representative from Mango Racing told me they agree with the ruling. Local news only stated that the Mango co-driver was hit by a truck and died on the scene, and that an agent of the Ministerio Público del Fuero Común (public prosecutor’s office) was dispatched to assess the situation.

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Race-Dezert commenter redline, identified as Droogsma’s teammate, added the following to a thread regarding the incident:

We lost an awesome friend and a person this race. Sadly it is truly a case of wrong place and wrong time for everyone involved. There wasn’t anybody driving over their head, nobody doing anything they shouldn’t have, definitely not having gps would not have helped; it was an accident and that’s the only way to describe it. We all know the chances we take and still do it because we love racing. Everyone knows that these things happen but always try to think it won’t happen to us. I know that’s how I tried to look at it till this race and never will again.

Monte was one of those people who truly was a good friend immediately to anybody that would talk to him. He always was in a good mood even if things were bad he knew how to say something to cheer you up. He loved living and was just happy to be around family and friends and enjoyed everything he got a chance to try. I keep remembering him riding with me last Wednesday, telling me with a great big smile on his face that his daughter was having his 4th grandchild within the next day or two and that I needed to enjoy and cherish every second I get with my newborn daughter because time goes fast and kids are just “waaay too cool man”.

Getting out of a race car to dig somebody free from a bog is a common occurrence in the Baja 1000; we did it four times in the 200-odd miles I co-drove this year. It’s also common to be completely blinded by silt, which you can’t stop in or you’ll get stuck immediately.

Droogsma’s death is a tremendous tragedy regardless of specifics. Rest in peace.

Monte’s sister Michelle has set up a crowd funding page to help his family with memorial costs. If you wish to donate, you’ll find the link right here. Quite a few folks have pitched in already, which the family tremendously appreciates.

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As of November 30th, the Baja 1000 sanctioning body SCORE has posted an In Memoriam as well:

In Memoriam...

All of us in the SCORE International family wish to express our deep condolences to the family of Montgomery ‘Monty’ Droogsma, 56, of Bailey, Colo., who lost his life during last week’s SCORE Baja 1000. Droogsma was a co-rider in the Mango Racing Trophy Truck Spec vehicle and was attempting to dig the team’s truck out of the silt at approximately race mile 435 late Friday evening when he was struck by another race vehicle. It was a tragic racing accident and SCORE extends thoughts and prayers to Monty’s family, friends and the entire Mango Racing team.

Correction: Ensenada.net had Monte’s age at 60, but his brother informed me his age was 56. And that it was “Monte,” not “Monty” as some outlets have spelled his name. Thanks to Tim for clarifying. Monte’s teammate Austin

Image via Mango Racing


Contact the author at andrew@jalopnik.com.