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43rd Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Report

Discussion in 'Trails - Events - Expeditions' started by cruiseroutfit, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
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    Utah
    Goin' Baja. I had the opportunity to join a couple of friends for a trip down to see the Baja 1000 first hand. We left Salt Lake on Tuesday morning of last week and literally drove all day, camping just north of the US/Mexico border late that night. We woke up Wednesday morning and made our way through the Tecate border crossing, converted some US cash to pesos and boogied over to Ensenda where the race contingency was in full swing. It was a motorheads mecca. All of the race cars were on contingency row, going through the tech inspections one by one. This allows spectators to scope out all the ins and outs of each car, talk with the teams and drivers and basically enjoy what is a street fair with music, vendors, food, etc. By happenstance we bumped into my good friend John Williams from the Miller Motorsports Park whom would be driving and co-driving one of Wide Open's Baja Challenge cars. John has been out pre-running the days before and was excited to get the race underway. He had to rush off to a drivers meeting and we had plenty more to see at the contingency so we parted there. We stayed until the sun was setting and some of the last cars were squeezing through tech, including a BMW 318i that had been converted into a Baja race car by a young spunky guy named Bill Caswell.

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    Contingency Scene

    Bill was a BMW acquaintance with several of the friends I was traveling with (all Land Cruiser owners too), and I had met him at SEMA earlier this month where he was literally building the BMW in Miller Welding booth at the SEMA show. He had a long way to go in the couple of weeks between Vegas and Baja but he made it through tech with just minutes to spare. The car had a few final tweaks needed but that didn't stop the team from partying through the night, with a 1000+ mile race just hours away. Last month I had the opportunity to guide a couple of Wide Open's Baja Challenge race cars around the West Desert and in return they hooked our group up with accommodations at their marvelous facility just outside of Ensenada that evening. The Horsepower Ranch is a legendary destination among the Baja community, its cantina and lounge are decorated with signed posters, photos of the best of the best that ever made it to the Baja, helmets and other memorabilia, its like a museum. We bumped back into Bill Caswell and his team over breakfast in the Ranch's dining hall, he was literally getting debriefed by his team about their exploits the night before, all while nursing a serious hangover. What can you say he knows how to party. That would be the last we saw of Bill, sadly we never got to see his car in action but he did make it a few hundred miles before his steering gave up the ghost. You can read more on his story at the link above. After a great breakfast at the ranch we bid farewell to our gracious hosts (thanks again Wide Open) and set out to watch the big race.

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    Atmosphere of Horsepower Ranch

    Dave and Darren had been to the Baja 1000 several times before, so when it came time to find a good place to watch the action they had just the spot in mind and Marc and I were literally along for the ride. We found ourselves at approximately race mile 68 just outside Ojos Negro. Our spot was right in the middle of some nasty whoops in deep sand with a couple of pretty major turns at each end of the whoop section. I can't even relate how exhilarating it was to see the first chase helicopter come flying over our heads clearing the ground by no more than 100 feet and then seconds later a 800+ horsepower Trophy Truck comes blasting by. The adrenaline rush continued for the next hour as TT's, Class 1's and then smaller classes started rolling through, some accompanied by helicopters overhead others just rushing to get some ground behind them and finish this epic race. I took as many photos and videos as I could, finally I retired the camera and just sat back and watched the competitors battle the elements in what is known to most as the most difficult off-road race in the world. We were starting to see some of the other classes blow through, Class 7's, Class 3's and a couple of late bikes and quads, this marked the end of the big toys and the start of the smaller setups with would continue to start from Ensenada throughout the morning and afternoon.

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    My morning view of the race

    As the 2010 race is an A to B peninsula race (instead of a loop) seeing the race twice is a feat in itself, the fastest teams are averaging 55-60 mph and considering we have to load up and race south to the next checkpoint, even on the highways it would be a stretch. We loaded up Dave's 80 Series Land Cruiser (passionately known as Ruby Claire), found a lull in the racing to cross back over the race course. From there and burned south, stopping only once for gas in a small town. Our destination was the Bay of LA which was not only a checkpoint for the race but was also one of the BFG pits in which many of the teams would be utilizing including some of our favorites. We knew the TT's and Class 1's were long gone but our timing gave us a chance to see some of the slower and late starters coming through including the Lexus 570 driven by Joe Bacal. If all went smooth he would have been hours ahead of us on his way to La Paz. As we rolled into the BFG Pit we noticed Bacal's recovery truck, a bone stock LX570 (200 Series Land Cruiser) driven by our Land Cruiser friend Todd K. (Todd is the editor for Toyota Trails magazine, both Dave and myself have had articles published in the magazine). Turns out Joe had not come through as of yet having lost a wheel and tire somewere north of us but he was headed our way.

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    Bacal's LX570 makes it to BFG Pit #3
  2. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Utah
    We hung out in the pits for several more hours, watching rigs come and go, some taking gas, some taking tires, others making quick repairs or flat out calling it quits. Suddenly we spot the LX 570 blasting down the city street which had partitioned off to allow racers to blast through town. Joe was still in the game or at least so we thought at the time. He came in hot, took gas and discussed some handling issues with the BFG pit crew, they recommended he pull up out of the fuel lanes and take a look at it. We were just bystanders, snapping pictures and giving accolades but before I knew it we were right in the mix working on the rig. The handling issue turned out to be a loose track bar mount at the frame, we helped him diagnose it and implement a repair. One of the highlights of my trip was laying under his race truck with a cordless drill wrenching on his rig. With the track bar fixed a bigger problem popped up, the truck refused to start. Some sort of electrical gremlin had taken over the rig (still running the stock security system and ECM fwiw). There we sat for two more hours trying to help him get it running, checking connections, double checking connections, brainstorming ideas, etc. No dice on the Lexus and we had still not heard anything about the BMW, he must be broken or lost. Tired and down, we left, Joe was taking a nap and his co-driver (a Lexus Engineer) was trying to figure out the issue. It was about 7am when we crashed on a beach just a few miles away, usually you like to wake up when the sun is just starting to light up the ocean, we are the opposite.

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    Marc and I Working Away (photo courtesy of DMC)

    As we were forced out of bed by the noon day sun we figured Joe was officially out of the race, DNF. I assumed he was loaded on the trailer and headed north towards home by this point. Imagine the looks on our faces when we saw his rig blasting past our camp and headed south in a hurry. Hooray, he was still in it. We quickly packed up camp and stopped back by the BFG pit to hear the story. Apparently they too had given up, they were getting ready to load in on the trailer when suddenly it fired to live, they suited up and hopped in the seats and boogied out of there, getting through the SCORE checkpoint back in town with just minutes to spare. We later learned that not only did Joe finish the race but he took first in his class, what a come back story!

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    Camp on the beach

    There would be no way to catch the action again, the majority the top contenders were already across or nearing the finish line and by later afternoon the majority will have finished. We took a leisure route back home again camping on the beach at Gonzaga Bay after a brief stop by the famous Coco's Corner where we were able to sign his legendary guest book and buy a cold Coke. From Gonzaga we stopped only for gas and tacos (I must have consumed 30 tacos throughout the trip) finally reaching Las Vegas Saturday night. We finished out the drive Sunday, with a detour to Ely, NV to drop off Marc we made it back into Salt Lake late that evening. I must say it was an absolute shock leaving the shorts and t-shirt weather of Mexico right back into the freezing cold winter of Utah. Don't know what I miss more, the taco's or the weather. Baja, I'll be back.

    More pics here:
    Index of /images/Baja 1000_Nov_2010_med

    Roger Norman's Trophy Truck out front of the group
    [YOUTUBE]PDa3gmm3psI[/YOUTUBE]
  3. cruiseroutfit

    cruiseroutfit Moderator Supporting Vendor

    Messages:
    4,373
    Location:
    Utah
    More vids:

    BJ Baldwin:
    [YOUTUBE]QLLSm6QOjA4[/YOUTUBE]

    Jesse James:
    [YOUTUBE]CguI_f8Mnhk[/YOUTUBE]

    BFG Pits @ the Bay of LA
    [YOUTUBE]vT5AoA2GVXE[/YOUTUBE]

    More videos here:
    YouTube - bfautah's Channel
  4. pismojim

    pismojim the Dude abides... SILVER Star

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    Pismo Beach
    Kurt,
    Thanks for the great write-up and pics!

    Sounds like an awesome trip, less chaos than most.

    -Jim
  5. pismojim

    pismojim the Dude abides... SILVER Star

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    Reminded me of this video interview Roberto posted from his trip this year.
    Classic. Function over form. :cool:

    YouTube - Coco's Corner, entrevistando a Coco
    :cheers:
  6. Mace

    Mace rock scientist.. Staff Member s-Moderator

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    Las Vegas
    Isn't off road racing fun!!!
  7. Bluetribal

    Bluetribal SILVER Star

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    Sandy Eggo

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