July 18th, 2012, 21:38
Better late than never 2012 Baja 500 race recap class 5/1600 #552 YOLO Racing....
Baja 500 2012, pre race….
This race came together a little different for us. Thanks to our sponsor Alan Fisher and his Oceans Flavor Sea Salt company it was decided to leave the car in Ensenada on the way home from our first place finish at the Baja 250. So instead of bringing the car back to Canada we left the car at Ramones in Ensenada. We would not see the car again until a few days before the 500. We travelled once again down from Canada and arrived in Baja Mar on the tuesday of race week to find our newly painted and upgraded 5/1600. The guys at Ramones shop did a fantastic job. They made changes to the rear end geometry to accept the new bypass shocks, increase the travel and sorted out the camber issues. They replaced the wiring harness and brought it up to the highest standard. They also did lots of other little things that we just didn't think of during the original build. We were very excited to drive it!
Ted and I(Ross) were to start the race and had a chance to prerun start to RM 70. Erich and Doug preran a small section on the pacific side. After contingency we met up with the Fire Chief and his crew from the Rosarito Fire Department and handed over another shipment of donated firefighting gear that we brought down form Canada. This much needed gear consists of the Helmets Jackets Pants and Boots that fire fighters wear while performing structural fire suppression activities. We have now outfitted 50 members of the Rosarito Fire Depatment with there own personal gear. This is a joint venture between Firefighters without Borders Canada, Oceans Flavor foods and YOLO Racing.
Start to Race mile 228,
Driver Ross Burden Co pilot Ted Baikie
Story by Ross
We started the race as #552 behind Trevor Anderson #551 and in front of Avina #578, Lam #553 and the RPM car #579. Each of us off the start line, 30 seconds between cars. We are in a battle for the championship with the RPM car. Off the start the course ran up the wash which until race morning was closed due to a water main failure the day before. SCORE and the City worked to getthe flow stopped and some of the water drained. We slid our way up the wash and onto the pavement to the outskirts of Ensenada where the course turns back to dirt and winds its way up to Ojos. There are some new sections running through some new residential developments and my copilot Ted was doing an great job in getting us through. My goal for the first part of the race was to see how long I could hold off Avina and RPM who's local knowledge gives them such a huge advantage. It wasn't long before I made an error and got off track which cost us some time and I saw the dust of 551 starting to fade. Once back on the race line I set off to real him in. This was the first time Ted and I had been in the car since the 2010 Baja 1000 and with the new upgrades to the suspension we were going faster and hitting stuff harder than in the past. Nothing like learning the car all over again at race pace. By race mile 20 Avina had caught us and I let him by. At RM 40 the RPM car had caught us an I gave them room to pass. My plan now is to race my race and get the car to RM228 in one piece. We pushed on as hard as we could. There was lots of dust and a few times we caught a few guys and they took there time letting us by, on the horn and on there bumper they did there best to out run, we eventually got past the blockers and into clean air.
The Ojos jumps were a bit sketchy as the course is lined with spectators and we are hitting stuff at top speed for the first time in the new car. The car was awesome, it handled the jumps better than ever. Up to race mile 70 we had great run and made good time as we had preran this section. From 70 to 90 was a different story as we had not preran anything past RM70 but were still running hard. On the new terrain, we had a few close calls a few lucky saves before we made Check Point 1 at RM90. We were 1 minute behind RPM. We had reached the summit at RM108 or so and there was a logjam, a truck was broke an there is no way around. We sat for a few minutes, 2 cars behind RPM. No Avina or Anderson..I figured they had missed the jam and were pushing on down course. The truck team managed to get their vehicle of to the side and the jam cleared. We pressed on trying to keep pace withe the RPM car.
At around RM 120 we bottomed out on a rock, we hit so hard it felt as if we had been shot out of cannon and almost endoed. When the car landed something was scraping and we were bottoming out on every compression. We had bent the skid plate and the leading edge was acting like a plow. I figured it would just bend back on itself as we decided to push on.
Coming into RM158 or so we caught and passed the RPM car and as my copilot Ted and I were basking in this small victory we hit the silt beds at RM162. I chose the wrong line and found the deepest silt trench possible and buried the car up to the doors (damn those 42 in TT tires) The RPM guys drove around us, im sure they had a few laughs. We notified our chase via radio that we were stuck and we climbed out to get unstuck. It was then that we found out that the skid plate had now been bent even more and was holding us up. We began to dig, the more silt we removed the more the car sunk deeper. To add to the problem the strong wind was blowing silt back into the ruts faster than we could dig. Not to mention every racer that went passed on the windward side created a blackout silt storm adding to the mess. We dug as much as we could and made an attempt to get out, it looked promising for about 2 seconds and we were stuck again, the bent skidplate was not helping things. Out of the car again as we began to assess, a good samaritan and his 4x4 rolls up on terra firma to our left and gives us a pull out. Our chase team shows up at the same time with much needed fluids. We looked at the skid plate, we cant straighten it without taking it off and decide to push on. We had lost 50 minutes. After a few more miles and some hard hits the sound of the skid plate dragging diminished, I figured it had folded back on itself.
From RM 210 to 220 the sun was sitting low as we headed west along the powerlines,a 10 mile section of nothing but big ass whoops. We cursed the 42 TT tires again. The glare of the sun made my scratched visor useless, and the strong wind was blowing sand everywhere, visibility sucked. We pushed on and cleared Checkpoint 2 RM220, 24 minutes behind RPM. We got the car to our driver change at RM 228. We had gained back 30 min on the RPM car but had ripped the skid plate clean off in the process. The engine and transmission were now exposed. We handed the car off to Erich and Doug and they set off into the setting sun. Our chase team told us they had not seen the 551 car of Trevor Anderson at all. We later found out they had a bad crash and their race ended early, luckily without injury. No wonder we could not catch him.
We jumped in the chase truck and headed for Valley de Trinidad for some much needed tacos and a few refreshments. We tracked our car on the SAT phone via the IRC Mile Track service and headed up to the meadow at race mile 410. Our car came through the final pit for a splash of fuel, we topped them up and gave them a new spare and sent them off to finish the race.
Race mile 228 to finish,
Driver Erich Reisen, copilot Doug Krannenburg
Story by Ercih
Waiting a BAja pits Doug and I cannot wait to get into car. We have been waiting at Baja pits at race mile 228 waiting for the first driver team to come in. We know they had been stuck for some time in the silt beds and were down a little in time. We watched the Avina and then RPM zip by. I listened to hear how the cars sounded and unfortunately they both sounded perfect and roared right past.
We saw the boys pull in and we jumped into action and proceeded to do the drivers change. At this point we took the information that the car was handling ok and running well. Ross let me know that the throttle cable was sticking and that the skid plate was damaged. Seconds later Grant stuck his head in the window and said " the skid plate is totally gone! You have nothing protecting your engine and transmission!" I thought wow that is great just as we are going to go up to Mikes and then over the power lines which were full of large rocks.
Anyway we took off and the car was amazing. We had it pinned wide open on the flats catching air on all the rollers. The car was flying and handling great. Doug was feeding me all the necessary information so we could maximize speed through the corners and the terrain. Things were going great and we were making good time.The sun was setting and blinding us at times. Luckily I had my Riders Sunglasses and was able to see no problem. After the sun dropped behind the mountains the sun glasses came off and the HIDs on. We began climbing through some more rough stuff and the car took it all perfectly. I noticed the throttle sticking when letting off quickly and had to use the clutch to control speed. A quick tap of the gas and it was unstuck again. We got to the top of the hill and now the roads smoothed out and we could get on it again. The car was handling great. We were able to carry speed into all the corners and slide through with ease. The car was handling perfect. The curves began to tighten and Doug began spitting information to me at a mile a minute. We came around a sharp left hander with lots of speed. I was confident we could make it though and just drift around. We began to slide and just as Doug read out the warning notes on the GPS " caution, caution huge cliff on the left!" the right rear tire grabbed and with all the speed we were carrying hooked up and threw us into the air. It felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under our feet and launched the Yolo Racer into the air. We crashed hard on the passenger side and then slammed onto the roof as we went over the edge of the huge cliff. The car completed the roll and was rolling down back wards. I jammed on the brakes and we hung onto the side of the cliff by our front wheels. There were plenty of spectators who came quickly to see if we were ok. I instantly asked if they could push us up the hill. They said they could not get behind us and push as the cliff just dropped off. Instantly, a white jeep cherokee backed up and hooked up a town rope. I started the car and gases it as he pulled. Within seconds we were on terra firma again. The helpful spectator unhooked the tow strap and we were off again. After two or three turns I felt the car out and she felt perfect. The only difference was we lost the passenger side mirror. I believe this roll happened at mile 257-258.
We got back up to speed and car was great. We tried to connect with our chase team as we thought they would be at Valley De Trinidad to see us by. We got not response and kept on going so as not to waste any precious time.
We headed up to the power lines and hit a few of the tough rock sections and had to adjust where the car was going to take the hits because of the lack of the skid plate. Unfortunately we hit two rocks within seconds of each other, the tires did not burst but we know we hit hard. We came into a Baja pits and knew that we did not have a tire there for us. We asked the pit guys what our tires looked like and they said both front ones were toast. We jumped out of the car to assess the tires and they were correct they hit so hard the tubes were bulging out. We swapped the spare and hammered the better of the two damaged ones with a piece of wood to bring the alloy wheels back to a usable wheel. We were off again. After the power lines the road smoothed out and we were back at full speed. We were drifting the corners and making very good time. We crossed highway 1 and headed to the pacific. We were able to contact Chris and get the information of where Baja Pits was and let him know the car was running great. We crossed at RM300 and soon hit the silt beds. The car became engulfed in the red tide of dust. We sank deep but the car pulled through.
At this point I was having difficulty with my visor and visibility. Fog and mist from the sea air was mixing with the silt and my visibility was poor. So I began to drive with my visor open again.
We were making good time and had a few challenging climbs under us and were half way up a climb when we came across a trophy light and a motorcycle stuck, they blocked the entire trail. We proceeded to back down the silty hill climb. This proved extremely difficult as I could not see a thing. Being strapped in the car and not having any side mirrors I needed to see what was behind me so I did not end up stuck! I took off the seat belt and tried to see out but couldn't. I then undid the window netting and could only see partially behind me. I backed up to a flat section and then chose a different line and took the trail to the right. The car was perfect and climbed the silt climb like a champ.
We stopped at the pits and had them swap our damaged spare for the good one we had there. Once swapped we were on it again. The fog was heavy and the sea air cool. We came to a check point and they told us to change course by the oyster shack. We didn't know what they were talking about but they said the tide had come in and there were trucks stuck in the ocean to stay clear. We were stopped a second time miles down the road and told the same thing. We worked our way around the course deviation and then found our selves on the coast in the rock whoops. I drove the car riding on the center of the tire tracks to save the exposed engine and transmission. The pounding of the rocks made me cringe as all I could think about was cracking the engine case or punching a pushrod. We got though all that and made it back to highway 1. We pitted at rm369. took on fuel and go the word that Avina was out of the race and the Rpm was only 20-25 min ahead of us.This was great news. So we began to rip it up through Urapan. However it was here that we would lose great amounts of time. I tried to tell Doug what lay ahead and that I was confident in this section in the day light and this was my first attempt in the night. I was nervous but knew the car was great.
After only a few minutes we ran into our first bottleneck. Here there were two cars in the middle of a steep silt hill climb and two buggies stuck at the bottom of the hill climb with two trucks idling waiting to see what was going to happen. We waited for a while and then I got impatiant and said we needed to go and try this anyway as RPM was running away from us. I went around the guys waiting and pinned it passed the tow buggies stuck at the bottom. Doug was on the horn to let the two truck stuck mid hill that we were coming. We flew past them and noticed it was one of our team mates in the class 7sx truck. We would have loved to help but need to keep the chase going. We had two more bottle necks and we did the same thing waited, assessed the situation and then just went for it and cleared both with relative ease. We noticed a problem with the steering and figured it was a flat front left. I knew a few technical silt hill climbs were just around the corner and knew we need to change the tire. Doug climbed out the front window (his door was crushed in the roll over and could not be opened)and changed the tire in record time. A trophy truck came by and gave us as nudge as we were perched on three wheels and sandwiched doug between the dirt wall and the race car. After tire was swapped we began to push hard. Flew up a silt hill climb only to find a class seven truck on its side. He was blocking the entire goat trail. We exchanged words and I asked if I could go around and he said there was nowhere for me to get by. He begged us to hook up the tow strap and pull him back to his wheels. What choice did we have. He was blocking the only way through. We obliged and pulled him to his wheels once we were moving again things felt good.
We were getting close to the meadow where our chase team was waiting with yet another spare tire. We came around a corner and found ourselves in another silty hill climb, and once again there was a truck stuck mid way up. I pinned it and saw room on the right. I steered the car right but could not get the left rear out of the rut. We ran up the hill sideways with the left rear spinning in the rut. We got sucked back in and ended up smashing hard into the stuck trophy truck. I don t know how the left rear wheel stayed attached to the car. but it did and we were still on it hard.
We were now in ear shot of our crew and just let them know we were coming in and would need the spare swapped out. Just them we hit another bottle neck and had to back down the hill to wait for the three trucks to clear. Two of the trucks cleared and we thought that was good enough and then we blasted past the third truck. The boys met us at the pit and did a once over on the car, swapped out the spare for a new one and we headed for the finish line. Only problem the gps did not have the return course on it. We missed a turn and then got back on course. We drove hard for the last 40 miles and were confused a few times as the gps was not the same as the race course. Nevertheless, we found our way back to the finish line and were greeted by many of the LOSO Racing team and the rest of our chase team.
I am not pleased with the result of third. However, the Baja is tough and anything can happen. W lost great amounts of time due to hold ups and other circumstances but that is Baja. Unfortunately, this time we got stung. It was one of the most incredible adventures I have been on and cannot stop thinking about the what ifs ? It was an amazing race and I can't wait for the 1000. We will be ready and give it our best again. Huge thanks to Oceans Flavor Sea Salts and the rest of our sponsors. Thank you so much for all your support. Oh yah, I really did a number on the car and it will need to be painted again, therefore once again we will need more decals.
Pics and some in car to come...
www.yoloracing.com www.oceansflavor.com www.scalebuildersguild.com www.candymarproperties.com www.bajabound.com www.dynamicrescue.com www.controls.ca
July 18th, 2012 21:38
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