Recently we were invited by Russ Taylor to join his Post Apocalyptic off road event across Southern California and sent our roving reporter Landfill, to give you the “on the ground” perspective.

Smuggler’s Run PROJECT STARFIRE is a combination of a full day on-road/off-road rally with checkpoints throughout Barstow, Johnson Valley, and Big Bear. The entire event is overlaid with elements of an escape room and a scavenger hunt, all with a Wasteland and post-apocalyptic theme. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into creating an immersive experience and each separate day event links together into a large narrative over the year.

We really loved using the 1984 movie Red Dawn as the story basis and then overlaying the Wasteland style.  Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this and Russ was very enthusiastic for Wastelanders to join and our best selves, costumes and props.  As well as some great cast from the LA area in various roles, the Wastelander cast included our Warlord Master Blaster and his amazing Wasteland 80’s Rustang, plus a few of us from the Wasteland C-Rats tribe.

Master Blaster & The Rustang

We realized with horror that the weather would be quite cold and after 10+ years at Wasteland –  we didn’t own any cold weather Wasteland gear.  With a frenzy we located some old long sleeve tees, leggings and jackets, and set upon them with a range of rippers and shredders, bleach and sandpaper to get a basic weathered effect.  For those looking for tutorials, Dimitri at Nuclear Snail Studios is our go-to source.

Throughout the event Russ has picked some really great locations, starting at 6:am at an old drive-in theatre at Barstow – what a beautiful way to start the day – the sun rising over a relic of the old world.  Russ assembled the ~50 teams teams, who had all put in the effort to dress in theme – and especially nice to see families and a great range of off road vehicles. We didn’t join the off road parts, but everything seemed very well organized and they smoothly implemented changes due to some last minute forest road closures.

Check-in at Barstow Drive-In

As for the Wastelanders –  we ended up “working for Master Blaster” at 2 different well suited locations – helping to advance the story by staying in theme and helping the participants with the overall vibe and story – I was “Petrol” the second in command  and one of my favorite moments is ending up in the back room of a diner, playing Wasteland Blackjack, and having teams trying to trick me into revealing the location of the kidnapped Russian Scientist.  Suffice to say that each time it ended being peppered by gel blaster and dying a spectacularly amateurish death.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pcHk0SgNfw
Driving Through the Lucerne Valley

Overall this was a very enjoyable weekend. As Wastelanders it’s always fun to see the look in people’s eyes when they first learn of Wasteland – we’re hopeful we’ll get some new converts this year – at a minimum, after the event we have more people that understand our aesthetic. Russ has kindly invited us back to join his next chapter (Project Starfire 3.0)  on the 20th of May 2023. See you there!

(There are also events on September 23rd and November 4th, 2023 – check out the series page)

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