PIONEERTOWN – Wrangler Richard Kelly, El Monte, formerly of Big Bear, paced his burro to a first-day win yesterday in 2 hours, 55 minutes to take the opener in the three-day, 12th annual burro derby from Pioneertown to Big Bear Lake.
Yesterday morning, when the starting gun fired, and the 84 burros and wranglers took off, to quote one spectator, “it looked like all hell broke loose…arms, legs, ears, everything flying.”
Accompanying the contestants at various stages along the way were 125 officials, five judges, an SPCA investigating team many deputy sheriffs, the High Desert Citizens Band Club and the burros’ sponsors.
An approximately 10 a.m., Kelly and his burro, number 25, rounded a big canyon curve and got their first sight of Yucca Valley. From this point, the first 10 wranglers and burros to masters the Pioneertown Road after Kelly were numbers 65, 78, 79, 8, 75, 7, 44, 58 and 16.