The Baja 1000, arguably one of the most grueling races in the world, pits man and machine against nature... over a thousand miles of the nastiest, roughest, most unforgiving terrain the Baja peninsula has to offer.
This year marked the 40th anniversary of this legendary race and I was lucky enough to be invited down to experience the race with DXR Racing and their Mitsubishi Raider Stock Mini. Last year driver Dan Fresh piloted the Mitsubishi Raider to a first place finish in the stock mini class and returned this year hoping to repeat that victory and give us here at Four Wheeler a front row seat. But I'm getting ahead of myself now, to race we had to first get there and getting there is half the fun.
This whole journey started out innocently enough, a simple phone call the week before the race from the guys at Mitsu. Turns out they were putting together a trip to Baja to cover the race with DXR and had an open seat, and with that open seat came a seat in the race truck during the race. That's all it took, I was onboard.
We met the Sunday before the race, loaded up our home for the next week (an '06 Montero), and headed for the border. Our group consisted of myself, two other journalists, and our tour guide/chauffeur/translator, we'll call him Moe. With everybody together and the mighty Montero loaded down with enough Zone Bar's and Protein shakes to feed a small army we were off! After a relatively painless drive from Los Angeles California to Ensenada Mexico we arrived at our digs for the first night and headed straight off to bed for our three hours of sleep before we had to be up and at Tech/Contingency Monday morning.
With over 400 competitors entered in the race tech inspection, contingency, and last minute registration takes an entire day. Tech and Contingency are held at the soccer stadium in downtown Ensenada and is one big party for the locals and tourists alike. With tons of vendors lining the streets, two stages featuring live acts and the famous Tecate Girls, and race vehicles in line for miles families come from all around just to get a glimpse of the vehicles, the racers, and probably most important of all, stickers! Probably one of the coolest sights is seeing the faces of the little kids when a racer autographs their shirt, or give them a sticker, it truly is what this race is all about.
At the end of day one (or two depending on how you look at it) with tech closed and the vehicles ready for their big day we headed back to the rental house for a good dinner, team meeting with DXR to go over the plan for the next two days, and our last good rest before we are to arrive in Cabo San Lucas, the finish line of this years race. While this day was long it had nothing on the days and nights to come.
Be sure to tune in next time for Part 2: Race Day.