Federal Officials Hope to Charge Person They Believe Drove Across Death Valley’s Fragile ‘Racetrack Playa’

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Federal investigators have identified a suspect believed responsible for a frenzy of high-speed driving across “Racetrack Playa,” a remote dry lake in Death Valley National Park, officials said Tuesday.

Federal investigators have identified a suspect believed responsible for driving across the remote dry lake in Death Valley National Park known as "Racetrack Playa." (Credit: National Park Service)

Federal investigators have identified a suspect believed responsible for driving across the remote dry lake in Death Valley National Park known as “Racetrack Playa.” (Credit: National Park Service)

Spinning and swerving wildly in an SUV in early August, the suspect allegedly cut 10 miles’ worth of ruts into the playa, best known as a site where large rocks leave seemingly impossible trails that wiggle, weave and turn at sharp right angles for hundreds of feet.

The tracks had long posed a mystery, befuddling tourists and attracting worldwide speculation.

In 2014, however, scientists discovered that huge panes of ice pushed by light winds episodically sail into rocks weighing up to 200 pounds, bulldozing them across the slick muddy bottom of the normally dry lake.

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