2010 SCORE Baja 1000 Notes:
Our goals for this race:
First - Have Fun
Second - Win!
Third - Finish without major problems
Fourth - Learn from the experience
1) - We had fun
2) - We finished in 5th
3) - We had major electrical problems, numerous damaged wheels and a broken front torsion adjuster
4) - We learned that you can never be prepared enough for the Baja 1000, unless you have spares for EVERYTHING!
Ok where to begin… Our first Baja 1000 what an adventure! We started the race very strong, hauled the mail out of town everything working perfectly. Once we got to some of the whoops in San Matias we thought we heard something loose up front but with no other side effects we pressed on. Just shy of Laguna Diablo my co driver Victor noticed that our IRC box was no longer working (no lights). We made a quick stop and with the help of our chase guys we checked out the box connections etc… nothing wrong with the plugs but we found the box could be held on with upward pressure, weird internal ground issue or something. We booked through San Felipe (our back yard/home turf desert) and passed #551 putting us in physical 3’rd behind Angulo and Aviña where we stayed all the way to Calamujue.
Just before the pavement to Puertecitos I tagged one rock just wrong and blew a rear tire, Victor hopped out and with the help of some enthusiastic spectators got it changed. Nothing remarkable on the way to Coco’s, awesome fast section! Onto Calamujue wash; this is a section we did not get to see beforehand and was a source of concern. Slowly the water started becoming less avoidable, sloshed through a few deep holes with zero issues until we came upon a stuck 6 truck blocking the line I was committed to. I tried to jump up above the truck but only got half way, grrr. A little forward-backward movement and some pushing freed us from the berm. A big thanks to some of Aviña’s guys who helped push! We blasted through the hole that had ensnared the 6 truck with no problem and pressed on out of the wash.
Our first main inspection stop was El Crucero, we came into the pit knowing we’d need to make repairs. Remember that loose item banging around since San Matias? Well our battery tray had let go up front and the battery was flailing around. We came to discover the battery had broken off one end of our spare axle mounts and now had a 6 inch deep hole blown right in the side of it, completely toast. Well a spare battery is one thing this small team did not have on hand, guess that’s Murphy’s law… After some desperate scrounging around the crowd of people we found someone who would give up a battery for us. A huge thank you to Vinnie of Trackside Performance at the Yokohama semi for saving our race and giving us a new battery.
New Battery in hand we ran new wiring using a set of cannibalized jumper cables to its new location on the passenger side floorpan. After 2 hours of desperate repairs we had lost several positions but we were glad to still be in the race. Many thanks to everyone who pitched in at that pit to get us back on the road! Now with my new co driver Archie we drove through the night to San Ignacio with nothing eventful other than one excessive nerf somewhere near El Arco that came without warning and whipped us both pretty good. Pretty sure it was a red 5 unlimited (there was more than one entered) but I didn’t get the number. Time for a new rear bumper…
San Igancio to San Juanico got way siltier since pre-running but otherwise no big deal. It was a huge morale boost to have the sun come up after a very cold night and driving in tons of thick fog. Loreto gave us more silt, plenty of rocky washes and hill climbs. Approaching our Loreto pit the front suspension was sagging, and the brakes were pretty much done so rocky sections and descents were taken with caution. Once at the pit we welded up the issue with the front ground clearance, bled the brakes, and my Dad hopped in the right seat for the final third.
After crossing the peninsula to the west and one more flat tire we got into the long sand stretches south through Insurgentes, Constitucion, and Santa Rita. This section was mostly very fast and fun despite the whoops and one other extremely excessive nerf with minimal warning (this time a protruck). By the end of this section we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. After about 30 hours of driving like a lunatic on minimal food, no sleep etc. things started getting a little weird for me… Everyone talks about the cacti in their hallucinations and yeah they look like they’re waving, or look like people. I saw a few things that I thought were animals running into my path but what got to me most were auditory hallucinations. I have heard my Dad’s voice all my life, I know what it sounds like but when he was talking to me navigating, calling out GPS stuff etc. it wasn’t his voice anymore it was some combination of other people’s voices that I was hearing. Very strange, I just tried not to pay it too much attention.
The home stretch to La Paz was more of the same. The so called La Paz Mini Summit was no big thing, we were expecting much worse. We never found a hill we needed to back down or be towed out of the whole race. The “Steps” were a very cool feature to navigate and the lights of La Paz were a beautiful sight to see. Last chunk of pavement and we were there. We crossed the line in 5th place in 32 hours 54 minutes with ONE driver and 3 co drivers. The class stayed pretty close together the whole race. Had it not been for all our issues we figure we would have easily had 2nd but that’s the way it goes in Baja. What a ride!
Congrats the to the podium finishers in the class it was a fun race to run with all you guys!
A thousand and sixty one thanks to All my family especially my parents, my navigators; Victor Celis, Archie Negrete, and my Dad, my amazing chase guys from Ensenada, Baja Pits; you guys were pure awesome at every pit, Pat Dailey for letting me be part of his prerun, VW Paradise for building us an awesome motor that took all I threw at it and got us out of some ugly stuff, and of course again Vinnie for the battery in El Crucero. Without all you guys this dream could never have become a reality.
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