Tuesday, November 13th, Race Day.
At this point we had been in Baja for two days, contingency and tech inspection were over, the vehicles were full of fuel and the drivers eager to get underway. We woke up early Tuesday morning and headed into town to see the trucks take the green flag. Our truck, the #763 Mitsubishi Raider Stock Mini was scheduled to be one of the last vehicles off the line, at about 12:30pm on the 13th, with the Trophy Truck class leading things off at about 10:30am (the motorcycles and quads had already left at 6:30am as to not interfere with the four wheeled classes).
12:30 came and the Raider left the line with Dan Fresh behind the wheel and Co-Driver Sean Douglas in the passenger seat. The race teams adventure had just begun, and so had ours. We had 12 short hours to travel down the coast of Baja to meet the race truck in Guayaquil, a small town just south of El Rosario, where I was to get into the race truck for the ride of my life.
As the four of us made our trek down the Baja peninsula we passed through many small towns and were greeted by the ever exuberant smiling faces of the children (and some adults) that lived in the towns that came out to the road just to get a glimpse of the race teams flying through as they chased their vehicles down the length of Baja. One of the greatest sights in Baja is the look on the children's faces when you give them a sticker or other trinket, it reminds us of the real reason we race in Baja. More about the local flavor later, time to get back to the race.
Luckily for us we made it through all the government and military checkpoints and got into the town of El Rosario with enough time to sit down to a good meal at a small restaurant called Mama Espinoza's where we met up with one of the DXR chase crews and got an update on the truck. The Raider was running strong but due to a couple of bottle necks on the course they were now about a half hour behind schedule. No worries though because the rest of the vehicles in the class had been held up by the same traffic. With the truck behind schedule and us ahead of schedule we took the opportunity to grab a quick shower and get some rest at the Baja Cactus motel before heading out to the El Rosario pit stop. The motel was awesome and a great way to break up the trip since at this point we had been on the road for over 12 hours and wouldn't arrive at the finish in Cabo for at least another 24 hours.
All rested and relaxed we checked out of the awesome digs at the Desert Cactus and headed out into the desert to wait for the truck to come into the El Rosario pit. With the Raider race truck making good time we only had a short wait for it to arrive at this pit stop. The truck arrived and the crew set to work checking over every part of the vehicle to be sure it was all still there and functioning properly (both good things to have in a race like this). A quick splash of gas, a bottle of water and a powerbar for the driver and co-driver and the truck was back off racing into the night, next stop Guayaquil.
As soon as the race truck left the pits, so did we. We had about a 60 kilometer driver to reach the next stop of Guayaquil and the race truck had about a two hour drive, it was going to be close. Luckily for me we arrived at the pit stop with just enough time for me to down another bottle of water (hydration is key in these types of events) and scarf down a Cliff Bar. Before I knew what hit me the race truck was in, the driver an co-driver were out, I was strapped in and we were off. I was now fulfilling a life long goal, to race in the Baja 1000.