Since the 1979 release of the groundbreaking movie, Mad Max events had been held in Australia and even Japan, but none in the US. In 2004, Mad Max fan Karol Bartoszynski set out to change things.
The result was Roadwar USA, a free fan gathering built around a tanker-led highway cruise. Karol organized Roadwar 101 on Halloween Day, 2004 in San Francisco, California, which soon inspired a much larger event in San Antonio, Texas the next Spring. The San Antonio event was marked by the unfair arrests of 12 fans, including Karol. All charges were later dropped, but the event earned national media coverage as a result.
In 2007, Karol helped support Roadwar Northwest near Tacoma, Washington, which was partly held on the grounds of a huge annual car show. The event brought back celebrity Vernon Wells for a second event, and featured several replica vehicles, as well as a drive-in screening of Mad Max and Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior).
Throughout all of this, Karol, like many fans, dreamed of one day bringing an event out into the landscape it belonged in: the desert. In 2007, Karol started looking into creating a desert Mad Max event that would piggy-back on a regional Burning Man event in Nevada. By 2008, however, Karol scrapped his plans due to problems with the event’s continuous date and venue changes.
Then in 2009, Scarlett Harlott, an event promoter and a fixture in the pirate fan community, stepped forward onto the Mad Max scene, providing the “We’re doing it!” inspiration that ultimately made a Mad Max desert event happen. Karol quickly joined forces with Scarlett early on and brought with him his resources, connections and commitment to the fans. The result was 2009’s Road Warrior Weekend – an event long past its due!
Following Road Warrior Weekend’s success, Karol Bartoszynski, Jared B., and Jim Howard (an event organizer, San Diego club promoter, and founder of OZO) quickly turned their minds to creating an even bigger event for the fans. Ultimately deciding that it would be best to part ways with Scarlett, Karol, Jared and Jim assembled their own team of Road Warrior Weekend veterans and began WASTELAND WEEKEND.
Wasteland Weekend 2010 attracted close to 400 people, as well as media attention from G4TV and the Associated Press. 2010 saw the beginning of the Bartertown Bateria, Jugger teams, a stunt show, games, and direct acknowledgment from George Miller, director of the Mad Max film series. Jim Howard’s hard work, leadership, and total dedication contributed significantly to the event’s success.
In 2011, Jim left the team and Karol and Jared welcomed Adam Chilson, a professional photographer with a decade of trade show set-up experience, as an event promoter and the event’s production designer. Adam’s ambition, energy, and intense love for the post-apocalyptic aesthetic led to the creation of the iconic Wasteland gates, which served as the entrance to the new fully-immersive themed area. 2011 also saw an overwhelming response to the newly-introduced tribe concept, as well as the introduction of a casino, mini-Thunderdome, an expanded entertainment schedule including a live band, coverage by a documentary crew, and a turnout of approximately 600.
Wasteland Weekend 2012, our third official year as Wasteland Weekend, attracted about 1000 attendees, including video game icon Brian Fargo. Karol, Jared and Adam introduced a new, larger incarnation of the Atomic Cafe – this time build out of metal and car parts – which drew a lot of attention from fans and the media. G4TV and Art Mann Presents were notable media attendees.