OK, here's the scenario: Your team is ready to race. You've done all your prerunning, booked your hotel rooms, and tuned your race truck's suspension to handle the specific racecourse's terrain. You've planned your pit strategy, and your team knows what spare parts need to go to which pit. You're resting easy at night, knowing that you're prepared for the 21st Annual SCORE San Felipe 250. The next thing you know, you're reading this, and you're reading it less than two weeks before the race:"Due to irreconcilable differences between the city of San Felipe and one of the San Felipe ejido land groups, the race is being moved to Ensenada. SCORE deeply regrets any inconvenience this may cause; however, this situation has absolutely nothing to do with past or present conduct of SCORE International. We are sincerely grateful to the cities of Ensenada, Santo Tomas, and the other areas along the new racecourse for allowing us to move this great event to another course."- SCORE President and CEO, Sal Fish
With the rug tugged from underneath your well-laid plans, would you scramble to make the Ensenada starting line, or would you sit out the race and wait for '08? While many teams understandably opted out, 394 teams decided to pull up stakes and test their mettle and machinery against the new course. Starting in Ensenada, the 216-mile route slithered through many locales used in the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 over the years. After leaving Ensenada, racers would sail off the Ojos Negros "rollers" before heading to Tres Hermanos and making a hard lefthander at El Alamo. After crossing and recrossing Mexican Highway 3, the course toured Valle de Trinidad before making a run for Baja's Pacific coast. Racers would do battle within sight of the surf as they passed Erendira. The last stretch would take them up over a mountain ridge and drop them into a rural valley and the finish line at Santo Tomas. Time limit: 9 hours.
San Felipe is a fishing and tourist town juxtaposed with the turquoise-blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. We were disappointed to miss out on the small-town atmosphere and spectacular scenery that San Felipe offers, but this change of venue brought a unique chance to see off-road competition along Baja's Pacific Coast. During the race, we'd see Trophy Trucks, surfers, fans, farms, and fishermen in close proximity to each other. Can't we all just get along? On the way home, we concluded that every once in a while, the answer is "yes."
Here's another scenario to consider: You're the race director. You've planned, plotted, and laid out the course. You've jumped through logistical and political hoops. You've promoted the race to the international off-road racing community, successfully attracting hundreds of teams from several different countries. With the days counting down, you learn of a local political upheaval that prevents your race from happening as planned. Would you cancel the race, or would you regroup and plot a new route?
The very running of the Baja 250 is a testament to Sal Fish's prowess as an organizer and promoter. It is also a testament to the generosity of the various Baja municipal governments. Yes, racing benefits the local economy, but short notice is still short notice. The powers that be in Baja came through for SCORE. The race was held on the as-planned date.
Will we be back in San Felipe next year? Hopefully. If not, that's OK too. As we found out, off-road racing in Baja is spectacular no matter what the venue.