BAJA CHAMPIONS STOP THEIR RACES TO HELP DOWNED WARRIOR JUSTIN IMHOFF - race-deZert.com

BAJA CHAMPIONS STOP THEIR RACES TO HELP DOWNED WARRIOR JUSTIN IMHOFF

-Brian Pinard and Ricky Johnson Come to the Aid of 17 year old Baja 1000 Rookie

After an all day battle with the 1x bike of Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody through the grueling terrain of the 2010 BAJA 1000, 17 year old BAJA rookie Justin Inhofe on the 8x bike of Colton Udall had a horrific crash just outside the mission of San Javier in southern Baja. After lying unconscious for an estimated 30-40 minutes in night darkness, the first racer on the scene was multi-time BAJA Moto champion Brian Pinard aboard the 306x bike of Francisco Septien.

“It was really bad”, explained Pinard, “All his stuff was spread out all over the place. I knew he had been lying there for a good 30-40 minutes because that’s the gap he had on us when I got on the bike.” Incidentally, Pinard is a co-rider for season points leader Francisco Septien and was riding to an overall class 30 championship at the time he encountered a sprawled out Imhoff

Pinard, being a well seasoned BAJA vet, knew that he had stay with the victim until he could make sure that Imhoff was being taken care of. He spoke to Imhoff and tried to wake him by talking to him. Then Pinard located Imhoff’s radio which also separated from his person. He just turned the dial one notch and said “Anyone copy me”. Amazingly, HONDA relay replied back immediately.

After performing a basic check of Imhoff’s breathing and general condition, he decided to not move the victim even though he was lying in the path of oncoming race traffic. So Pinard turned his bike around to flicker his headlight to alert the next racer to slow down.

Fortunately, the next racer to arrive was AMA Hall of Famer Ricky Johnson, also a well seasoned BAJA vet and all around “good guy”. When Johnson arrived, Pinard had been with Imhoff for an estimated 10 minutes and spent much of that time talking with HONDA relay, briefing them on his condition and location. Johnson pulled some glow-sticks from his bag and used them to mark the scene.

This is the first time Pinard had ever come across an unconscious racer but he knew what to do and more importantly, what not to do. Johnson and Pinard, who were each riding for SCORE series championships in their respective classes (class 30 and 40) discussed the situation calmly and decided that Pinard would stay with a still unconscious Imhoff while Johnson rode down course to the mission town of San Javier, only a few miles away. Johnson summoned a police officer in town and led a group of municipal workers in their truck to the scene where Pinard was still waiting and relaying information to HONDA.

It was decided that Johnson would continue on the 306x bike while Pinard stayed back with Imhoff until he was very comfortable that Justin was in good hands. During this time he cautioned the local crew to not touch of move Imhoff.

By this time news of Justin’s bad crash had spread throughout the BAJA peninsula and beyond, triggering some false reports and causing stress for the HONDA team’s families. Once Pinard was convinced that Justin was in good hands, he was able to continue on into the night to help Francisco Septien clinch his third class 30 title in 4 years.

Johnson also went on to help team mates Jeff Kaplan and Louie Franco seal another class 40 championship for team mates, Brett Helm, Scott Myers and Bob Johnson.

Ironically, Kaplan (class 40) and Pinard (class 30) brought their bikes in 2nd and 3rd overall well behind Imhoff’s team mates Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody. (Septien actually finished the race for Pinard who battled, like Kaplan, over 150 miles of pea soup fog along the coast of Magdalena Bay and beyond.

This story has many ironic twists that will not be forgotten anytime soon. It goes to show you that many years of Baja racing makes these warriors more than just champions, but first class citizens.

Reported By Scotty Breauxman

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