BARSTOW Women of all ages will be tearing up Stoddard Valley Saturday, racing a nearly 28-mile course to raise money for breast cancer research.

Last year about 176 teams of women from eight states wound their way through creosote and rocks near Outlet Center Drive, raising $120,000 for Cedars-Sinai Women's Breast Cancer Research Center. This year the event's organizers say that about 200 cars will be participating in the race. They hope to raise between $150,000 and $200,000. The race is for women only.

"The only people allowed in the vehicles are women," said Patrick Burris, motor sports coordinator for Royal Purple Synthetic Oils, the corporate sponsor for the race. "Men can work on the car, they can pit the car, they can fuel the car, they can do everything else, but they cannot in any way be in the car for the race."

The Powder Puff Race for the Cure event, hosted by Mojave Off-road Racing Enthusiasts, or MORE, and Royal Purple, enters its fifth year this year. Half of the event's $250 entry fee will be donated to Cedars-Sinai, while the other half will be used to pay for the race's expenses, said Ron Matthews, MORE's race director.

Matthews also expects between 5,000 and 6,000 spectators.

The Powder Puff race got its start in the mind of off-road racers Jennifer Clemison and Shelby Tolbert, said Heather Birdwell, owner of Damzle, an off-road apparel store for women.

"They were two drivers in a predominantly male-driven sport at the time," she said. "They just shared a lot of common interests as far as having lost some family members to breast cancer. They just thought it would be great to have a race."

The race is like most other off-road vehicle races, Birdwell said. But what makes this one special is the camaraderie amongst the racers and spectators. Instead of making sure their family is warm and dry, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and daughters are actually racing.
"It's our chance to actually be race car drivers and enjoy the freedom of the race course," she said. "And the guys really step up in an unbelievable way."

For those that would rather stay on the blacktop, the 15th-annual Cruise for the Cure car show will be held at Tanger Outlets on Lenwood Road. All entry fees, drawings and donations will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Tanger will also offer its Pink Cards for $1 to raise money to fight breast cancer. The card allows customers to get a 25 percent discount on items at participating store. The card can be purchased at the shopper services center at Tanger Outlets.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com