2012 SCORE Baja 1000 Notes:
Trevor and I have been anticipating this race since our short lived Baja 500
adventure earlier this year. We have spent
(Mark) the last several months repairing the car and preparing for this epic race - the greatest off road race in the world in our
opinions. Nothing compares to the challenge and adventure of a "point to point" Baja 1000; the "Dakar" may be longer
but they only run a couple of hundred miles at a time, then retire for a massage, dinner and some sleep! The Baja 1000
is a grueling test of endurance for both man and machine - start driving when the green flag drops and don't stop until
the finish line 1122 miles later! Aside from a few 30 second fuel stops, the only "breaks" come if we break the car!
Then, we can get out and repair it ourselves (if we can) - there isn't going to be a crew standing by to repair it for us!
This race is a balancing act that runs almost the entire length of Baja
California; it begins in Ensenada on the Pacific
coast and ends in La Paz, near the tip of Baja on the Sea of Cortez. In-between, we will drive day and night through some
of the most inhospitable terrain imaginable - open desert, river crossings, seemingly endless "silt-beds", soft sand washes,
etc.. It's often said in desert racing that "to finish first, you must first finish". While that seems obvious, the real trick
for the Baja 1000 is just making it to the finish line at all..... We must conserve the car whenever possible, but we have
to remember that it's a race and the goal is to come in first! That's a tough balancing act; it's very difficult to control
the urge to "race" the entire course. That urge bit us at the '500 this year, we don't want that to happen again......
Our race strategy: Trevor will talk about this in more detail in his race
report, but the basic plan is to run a very
conservative race in the early stages. Trevor plans to take his time in the Ensenada to Borrego section, then really
start racing once he is beyond that part. The early part of the Baja 1000 is fairly technical and full of opportunities to
end the race early. He plans to let the other cars in our class develop a lead early on if necessary, knowing that we
are very fast in the later sections. This is an extremely long race and in our opinions can't be run the same way we'd
run the San Felipe 250 or any of the other short "sprint" races. Running "all-out" from the beginning is a sure way
to break the car before the finish. Trevor plans to "solo drive" this race as usual, but we have 4 co-drivers (navigators)
planned to take turns in the car with him. I am planned to take the final leg with Trevor; Loreto to the finish line in
La Paz. We are using "Baja Pits" as our pit service provider, they've been great for us in the past and Carlos is a good
friend. We will have 3 chase vehicles; 1 on the Ensenada to Gonzaga section and 2 on the El Crucero to La Paz
section. We don't really have enough spare tires to cover all the pits as we'd like, so we're carrying some in the chase
trucks and also recovering tires from pits that the car has already passed for use later on. We are carrying a small
amount of race fuel in my chase truck to cover any "fuel emergency" contingencies.......
Driver's Report (Trevor):
Wow, such an amazing amount to tell! I’ll try to summarize our race for the
of anyone interested… Hard to condense such an adventure.
We started mid afternoon Thursday as the second rear start 5/1600. Since we got
up and all through our wait to start
the race it was sprinkling and misting; by the time we got to the line, the paved streets were thoroughly wet. When the
green flag dropped for us we set off cautiously, driving hard on wet pavement seemed an imprudent risk. Through the
wash and getting out of town to Ojos Negros we drove very conservatively as per our pre decided strategy. Sticking to
such a careful pace is difficult for a racecar driver all full of adrenaline and nerves, especially when it means letting
people in a hurry pass you. We encountered one small bottle neck of about 3 or 4 vehicles on a small hill blocked by
a mini van but other than that the trip to Ojos was uneventful.
Ojos to the Km77 hwy section was just as we expected, no surprises. Shortly
after the highway section we made our
first fuel stop. Baja Pits fueled us up, and I took the opportunity to take off my sunglasses. With the extra cloud cover
and precipitation I found they were more an inconvenience than help. Pressing on we eventually got to the goat trail
(my first time running down this feature). We found to be an easy little technical downhill for our narrow, short
wheelbase car. Onto the next speed zone we cruised down through Valle de Trinidad, shortly before reaching San Matias
we spotted our east side chase crew George and Bill, always nice to see a familiar face! Off the highway and onto the
San Matias whoops, and into the wash, nothing noteworthy.
Once finally on the south side of Hwy 3 I started to feel that I’m in more
familiar surroundings. Running the whoops
along Hwy 3 to Borrego we started to pick up the pace and run a more aggressive speed. As expected lots of whoops
and rocks throughout San Felipe and down the Old Puertecitos Road. Most people probably despise this section but I
find it a nice rhythmic relief from the unpredictability of built up areas. End of the Old Puertecitos Road we make our
third pit stop at Campo Cristina. There we meet up with our chase guys George and Bill, we’re fueled and watered and
ready to go. One of the Baja pits guys has the VW knowledge and experience to shake the tires and informs us that the
right front is a touch loose. We make a note and press on down the long highway section. Finally the pavement gives
way to graded dirt road and we can open it up. By now the dust is hovering in the air and we can easily out drive our
headlights. Before Coco's (but I don’t remember before or after Gonzaga) there are some roller jumps similar to Ojos
except much more abrupt. Hitting these at 70 or so at night in the dust was a little hair raising! We’d launch and see
nothing but sky as the headlights pointed up, landing a few seconds later we’d hope the road was still there and straight
ahead! My co-driver Ruben and I let out a little nervous laughter and decided maybe not to launch those so hard haha…
after all we have to keep it together for another 700 and something miles. Rolled the jump in Gonzaga, as per my strategy
to avoid unnecessary risks. On through Cocos and left at the fork. We made our way to Calamajue and found the wash
very straightforward and easy to navigate, nothing more than streams and puddles this year, no stuck vehicles or sippy
holes like we encountered in 2010. Now approaching our first main pit stop at El Crucero, here we stopped for fuel
and a thorough mechanical inspection of the car. This was also one of the stops I planned to briefly get out of the car to
don a jacket for the night, and stuff as much nourishment in my face as possible in our brief stop. All fueled, everything
mechanically sound, and a fresh navigator installed I got back in the drivers seat and we buzzed away into the long night
leg. El Crucero to Bahia de Los Angeles was a really fun section, much less rough than I recalled in 2010, lots of twisting
road running through the gears and flying into turns.
After Bay of LA we stopped in Fransancisquito and fueled up. There I was
pleased to see our buddy Wally Palmer, a 5/16
vet of the past. He offered us whatever we needed and sent us back out into the black. The road from Bay of LA to
Vizcaino was fast, making it all the more sketchy for the frequent hurricane eroded wash outs where the road would just
drop off abruptly. A lapse in attention here could have spelled disaster.
Finally in Vizcaino we crossed the road and headed off into the new section
SCORE laid out to replace the long pavement
stretch we ran into San Ignacio in 2010. The new section was dominated by silt, many long extensively cut in beds.
Thinking we’d seen the worst of the silt we neared San Ignacio. The black horizon began giving way to a royal blue, the
sun must be coming to our rescue. Just before San Ignacio we discovered a parking lot silt bed littered with stuck vehicles
and their occupants either milling about or working feverishly to free their enveloped machines. Pulling into San Ignacio
we made 2 unplanned stops, one to change a co-driver, and one to start working a logistical problem dealing with fuel
planning. Note the problem was not a result of a miscalculation on our part.
As the sun rose we worked our way through the rocky back country between San
Ignacio and San Juanico, we had to
change one front tire and picked up a new spare in Cuarenta. As I’ve experienced on previous endurance races the
sunrise after an all nighter run through the desert is always the mental low point before the second wind lifts you back
up. Finally in San Juanico we got some extra fuel to help relieve our fuel crisis.
Working our way back across to the east side of the peninsula we drove through
the town of San Isidro and had our second
flat, this time a rear. I was tipped off by the loose traction I was experiencing… I was thinking why am I crossed up
sideways? I didn’t mean to drift this corner… Tire changed, we made our way up the switch back hill side and then down
the back side. With no spare tire and a front mounted on the rear we limped at a pace that would not worsen our situation.
In this condition we were passed by the YOLO 5/16 guys and the race began! We both pulled into the San Isidro Baja pits,
us just for fuel but they required repairs. We got out first and motored down the way where we met up with some of our guys,
we put a new rear on the car and a fresh spare up front, in which time YOLO got back around us. Really pushing hard now
I drove on the edge to close the gap. Just before our Loreto pit we met again on a few hill climbs, on the second they were
disabled and blocking our path. The great sportsman they are, they helped push us to get around their car.
Down the hill and eventually into our pit we knew the real race was on with
about 400 miles to go! I had planned to get
out of the car to take off my cold weather gear and eat and drink something but given the new situation I decided to tough
it out. We also decided to recycle a co driver who we felt would better facilitate a success in the end. Leaving Loreto we
zig-zaged through a wash that required us to repeatedly cross a stream. The big bow wave of water spraying up past our
skid plate made it hard to see but was kinda nice as it was hot in Loreto and I was still wearing my cold weather jacket over
my black 2 layer suit. The wash gave way to a short highway section and then into very fast sweeping graded roads, I didn’t
get a look at the GPS but I’m convinced we maxed that car faster than ever before. I was in fourth going down hill and
watching the tack twist around past 6K, for an extended stretch. Having passed the Yolo guys, we were physically leading
and wanting to hold onto that lead. Suddenly during one of the very rocky water crossings we spotted the orange RPM bug
trailing us a few hundred yards. With this motivation we stepped on it, my co driver and I were working in cohesive
harmony calling the turns and making awesome time, a lot of flat out driving for many miles. We made best use of our
clean air while we had it. Finally to the beach section we saw that RPM had managed yet to be visible a fair ways behind
us. They pulled into a pit and we never saw another 5/16.
The beach run was of ton of fun, hauling down those single wide sandy stretches
of whoops and chop. We had to let a
few unlimited behind schedule around us, and had to change one more flat but otherwise ran consistent and strong. Beach
run over, we started our final cross of the peninsula to the East side. The final leg to La Paz was very straight forward, but
the hurricane damage was apparent as much of the ground seemed washed down to very jagged rough bedrock. By now
hallucinations were in full effect, hearing other engines or sirens, people off in the shadows that are not there, and there
were a few rocks I was convinced were ready to spring legs and scamper across the road; I think I swerved at least once.
I was just waiting for the La Paz mini summit, I new that after that the ordeal was almost over. With the lights of La Paz
in view we bumped down the steps, through the dump and onto the pavement.
1121 miles and 32 hours 48 minutes and 38 seconds later we stopped at the
finish. Sal greeted and congratulated us warmly.
After being interviewed by Judy Smith I pried myself out of the car as my co driver sprayed me with beer haha. Completely
destroyed, I staggered around and celebrated with fans and my team for a while before going to tech.
I want to say thank you so much to my family for their constant support, all my
team, chase guys, navigators Ruben,
Victor, and Bobby. Jason Lauffer, Rick St. John, Adam Pfankuch, Wally Palmer, Carlos Orozco, the whole YOLO team
for their sportsmanship and many more!
Filthy, very sore and stiff, exhausted, de-hydrated, and hungry in the end it
was all worth it! In all honesty I’m still
recovering and it still hasn’t fully sunk in the significance of what we just did… 1st place in a historic class in a car we
designed, built, prepped, and raced.
Thank you all for helping me get my first Baja 1000 win on a solo drive!
Chase 1 notes (Mark and Teryl):
started the morning by helping
Trevor and Ruben get ready and in the
car for staging on time. As soon as they left the hotel for staging, we started driving South to El Crucero (RM 348), our
first contact point. It started raining shortly after we left Ensenada and we were worrying about Trevor and Ruben not
wearing jackets yet but there was really nothing we could do. We did not have direct radio contact with the car during
our drive to El Crucero, so we monitored "Weatherman" for any hint that 578 needed help. We knew that we had chase
coverage once they got to San Matias (around RM 100) but until they got that far, we would have to turn around to help
if something happened. Fortunately, we were able to press on to El Crucero to await their arrival. The traffic was
surprisingly tame, no real problems and we arrived on station at about 8pm or so and began setting up for their arrival.
It was a surreal scene at El Crucero; the wind was blowing, there was dust in the air, it was raining lightly and in the
middle of this was a small, brightly lit area that was "Baja Pits # 7". We checked in with Carlos there and asked how
his day was going, knowing that it had been a tough day so far; we also knew that if we needed anything his guys would
take care of us.
This was planned to be one of two major stops; a co-driver change (Ruben gets
out, Victor gets in), fuel, check the oil,
replace the air filter, inspect the car, Trevor gets fed and hydrated, Trevor puts a jacket on and then off to the races
again. We knew that this would take longer than a simple driver change/gas and go, but solo driving the Baja 1000
forces a couple of these long pit stops to ensure the driver stays clothed, fed and hydrated properly. After waiting a couple
of hours, we finally get the awaited radio call from our car; they are a few miles out and want us to have everything ready
for them. We jump to the ready with spare tires, fuel, air filter, food, water and tools - hopefully everything we might
need for them. In just a few minutes, they come around the corner and pull into the pit that was occupied just seconds
before by YOLO Racing # 551. They are racing "neck and neck" and time is precious - but we want it done right, not
just fast. Trevor and Ruben jump out as we start the inspection and fueling process. Trevor is greeted by Teryl (Mom)
with food and water, while I work on checking and adding oil, then changing the air filter. The car looks great, nothing
needs attention - what a relief! Trevor pounds down some water followed by Gatorade and puts his jacket on, then gets
back in the car for the next leg. I help Trevor connect his R3 and get him strapped in, then they're off into the dark again
running hard and strong! We say our thanks to Carlos and his crew, pack up and head to the next contact point - Vizcaino.
It's a long drive for us with an agricultural stop at Guerreo Negro. We
start having Internet coverage just outside of
Guerrero Negro, so we're able to follow the car with IRC tracking - that gives us a "warm-fuzzy" that the car is still moving!
We finally arrive at Vizcaino (around 2 am?), a couple of hours before the car will get there and I settled down for a little
nap while I could. Of course, the guy tuning his motorcycle next to us had different plans so sleep was difficult to come
by...... We watched Trevor's progress on the tracking site as he approached, then passed our location. We didn't actually
see them, we were stationed a few miles down the road at a Pemex station - close enough to help, but far enough away to
not be stuck in the insanity of the road crossing where we could actually see them come by. Once Trevor passed by and we
could see them moving along to the next pit stop, we loaded back up and headed to San Ignacio to await their arrival. We
waited for them alongside the highway, just before the turn off to San Ignacio. Again, we had a little time to wait so I tried
for a bit more sleep. San Ignacio was not planned to be a stopping point for the car but it was a convenient place for us to
wait in case they needed help. About sunrise, we started hearing scratchy radio calls from Victor telling us they were a few
miles out and that he needed to get out of the car. Trevor then got on the radio to tell us that he had been told by Baja Pits
that the fuel we were expecting to get at Cuarenta (RM 672) was not there! That's a major problem, the next fuel stop is
then at RM 782, San Isidro Rd. and the car can't carry enough fuel to get there from the last fuel stop!! Obviously, we're
going to have to stop in San Ignacio for a co-driver change and to figure out the fuel problem. Trevor rolls up to us a few
minutes later and we dumped all our emergency fuel supply into the fuel cell, filling it. That helps, but now we're still tight
on fuel to make our next fuel stop, 167 miles down course...... Trevor and I conferred about it, and I told him to stop at
every Baja Pit he came to and beg for whatever fuel they could give him. We also gave him a 5 gallon jug of fuel to carry
along - they should be able to make it even if they couldn't get any more. Trevor headed out into the rising sun and we
began the drive to our next stop, San Isidro Rd. (RM 782), fingers crossed that they'd have enough fuel to make it there.
We conferred with Chase 2 (Victor and Bobby at this point) and agreed that they would go to the San Ignacio Baja Pit and
get whatever fuel they'd give us, and then meet us at the next stop where they would take the fuel up to meet Trevor as he
got there (the course doesn't come quite down to the highway there, so Victor had to drive up a dirt road a few miles to get
there). We arrived on location a few hours later and established radio contact with Victor, already in position with the fuel.
We waited a little while, without any ability to track the car, then got impatient and used the satphone to call my sister-in-law
back home to see if she could check for us. She told us that they were moving quickly and were approaching our position;
I relayed that to Victor and told him that we were going to head to Loreto to be ready for the next pit stop, our 2nd extended
stop and where I was supposed to get in the car for the finish.
Teryl and I drove to the pit location in Loreto and got ready to receive the
car. At this point, we again had internet access,
so we were able to follow Trevor's progress. They were doing well, but YOLO Racing # 551 and he had been trading the
lead back and forth since El Crucero! The race was tight! I'm a big guy, and I began to worry that my size and weight
could make the difference between a win and a 2nd place in a race this tight. I discussed my concerns with Teryl and Victor;
we decided to put Ruben in the car in my place, as long as it was okay with Trevor. We were not messing around with this
race, we were there to win. Finally, Trevor calls us on the radio to say they're a few miles out, that the race is really tight,
he's not planning to do our extended pit stop and to have everything ready!! We note the urgency in his voice and tell him
that we're ready. Trevor rolls into the pit, we dump fuel, get Ruben situated, change the air filter then send him on his
way. YOLO Racing is nowhere in sight, wonder what happened to them? We go back to the truck to check the tracking
site - YOLO is not moving, a couple of miles short of the Loreto pit for some reason! We watch Trevor move rapidly away,
developing a 40 mile lead over YOLO before they start moving again!
We start driving to our next contact point, San Carlos (RM 956), and arrive
there about 3 pm. We park and wait for Trevor
and Ruben to arrive, knowing that they are not planning to stop there but at least we'll be in position if they need anything.
Watching the tracking site, we see that our nearest competitor (# 551) is still way behind us and not catching up; the other
5/1600 cars are nowhere near our position, over 100 miles back. We're firmly in the lead, but Baja has a way of disrupting
your plans when you least expect it...... Trevor finally comes into view and stops near us, needing to replace the spare tire.
We run over to take care of business, then they're off again in just a few seconds it seems. From this point until the finish
line, there is nowhere that we can intercept the car; if they have problems now, it's a big deal to get to them...... Victor and
I agreed that Teryl and I would head to the finish line, and he would "pace" the car as long as he could then meet us at the
Teryl was glued to the laptop the entire way, watching Trevor's progress as we
moved towards La Paz. We were glad to see
that he was making good time with no "stoppages" along the way! We were both afraid to even think that we had made it,
for fear that we'd somehow "jinx" Trevor! It's funny how we suddenly became superstitious! We finally arrived in La Paz
and made our way to the "post tech" area to await Trevor's arrival. Once there, we watched the tracking site intently -
almost without breathing until he was down on the highway making the final run to the finish! When he was just a few
miles out, Trevor radioed to tell us he'd be there in a few minutes; we moved to the finish line to be sure we could get some
video and waited. It seemed to take forever, but finally, there they were! Trevor pulled up to the finish line, Sal shook his
hand, and we had won the 2012 Baja 1000; the longest non-stop off-road race in the world and the only race that matters!!!!
Chase 3 notes (George and Bill): After a decent nights sleep at Pete's Camp, we brewed morning coffee and
turned the Race radio on. We were happy to get a clear signal from the weatherman. Satisfied everything worked, we turned
the radio off to save the batteries. We drove to San Matias and took a position near the Wilson Class 1 team. This would turn
out to be a good decision, as they were all very cool to us as we waited the several hours for the race to come to us. The weather
turned chilly and it rained for about 40 minutes. We realized that we were no longer getting reception from weatherman,
and neither was Team Wilson.
We heard over their radio that they had rolled their car, and were limping it in
to the pit. ( it was captured on video and
posted to RDC before the site crashed.) The trophy trucks cruised by, most missing some fiberglass,and all brown with
mud. The Wilson class 1 came in, and we were treated to an amazing top A-arm replacement, using only hand tools, in
under an hour.
By now the clouds were thick grey, and it was starting to get dark. We watched
through binoculars at the road curve 2
miles away, looking for the 578. 2 5/1600's came by, one was white with checker board stripes, the second was the
RPM bug. Where's Trevor ? We called out on the radio, but no response. We waited. It gets quiet out there when no cars
are coming by. Suddenly, Bill says "....That's him.... ". We strain to see the car approaching us, a bright blur of white
light from the spotlights, then Trevor rounds the corner and we all make simultaneous positive ID contact. Ruben hits
the horn buttons for us, as we're waving them on and giving the thumbs up ! We fire up the truck and get going. Trevor
comes on the radio with "Good to see you guys ! ". We could hear the smile in his voice, and we were glad to be where
they expected us to be. They made it through one of the toughest sections, in the rain, and now it was time to set sail for
San Felipe !
We caught up to them a few miles later, and shot video and photos as we
followed. The car sounded great, and we saw
no damage. They left 3 and peeled back onto the course just after San Matias, and we watched as much as we could
through the wash and canyon. Trevor was moving at a fast clip, so we drove ahead and parked at the top of the 3 section
that parallels the course. We got out, and caught them on video again. Back to the truck, then caught up and got some
great footage as we kept pace on 3 all the way to the RM 140 right hander.
Here's where we got tripped up: We went on to Borrego, only to find that Baja
Pits set up Pit 3 at the 90 degree left turn
at RM 142. We had to back track to 142, pick up the Spare, and head to San Felipe. I figure we lost 40 minutes on that.
We made it to SF Pit 4, and were told that we just missed the car by 4 minutes. They fueled it, said it was running fine,
but keep an eye on the right link pin. After carefully negotiating our way through San Felipe town, we pressed on to
Campo Christina, determined to be there in time, but totally blown away that Trevor was covering this much ground so
Fortunately, we got to Pit 5 ahead of the car. the Baja Pits crew was very
friendly, and showed us where the dump can
and tires were. By now, it was about 9:10, and pitch black. We could see only the eerie bouncing of headlight beams
from race cars in the distance, and the campfires of the spectators lining the course. What a sight this must be for the
drivers at night ! After a few minutes, someone shouted out "578 !". The car rounded the corner strong, and hit the
marks at the pit. I hoisted the dump can in place, and fueled the car. Bill handed the guys a bag of water bottles; they
waived off the energy bars. Trevor wanted the right front checked. No visible damage or bends, and nothing when I
shook the tire. A Baja Pit member gave it a harder shake for good measure, and deemed it good to go. We traded some
quick fist bumps and thumbs up and they were on their way. Despite now being 240 miles in, we could tell they were
focused and ready to go. A 2 minute pit stop must have seemed like an eternity to them to sit still.
We hung out with the Baja Pits crew for awhile. YOLO passed by a few minutes
later. We had no radio contact, so we
waited for awhile, hoping all would be ok. The Baja Pits crew told us not to worry, they said that car was built right and
wouldn't have a problem. Actually, they were more interested in convincing us that the best tacos ever could be had on
the 3rd dirt road past the convenience store in Puerticitos. Since it was a dark night, we decided to stay put, and put that
Taco quest on our next bucket list.
Custom Aircraft Parts
Ruben de la Fuente
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