Can a regular Joe race the Mexican 1000?

Nole Quiring

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I've never raced. Anything. I spent a week in Baja on a family road trip when I was in high school but that was 20+ years ago. That's the extent of my experience with this. I have a 79 Ford I'm starting to build. Can I do this realistically? I've given myself til 2019 to have my truck built, then I want to enter for the 2020 race. The theory is I have a year to test it out and fix whatever I did wrong. Plus I'm hoping to get down for 2019 to check out the race, see what's what, and hopefully get to meet some of the folks already competing.

When I come on this site I see people building and racing amazing vehicles. In build threads, I often see a post where the owner says "Hey I just got another sponsor on board, so and so is giving me wheels/tires/seats/etc."

That kind of thing is great, I expect its a bonus of being in the sport and being good at it.

My problem? I'm a carpenter. I don't have connections, and as I said before I've never raced so who the hell would give me anything?.

I don't have a problem with building the truck myself, I like doing this sort of thing. I'm not whining about sponsorship or asking for a handout (just want that to be clear), I'm just asking: can I do this on a personal budget and run this race?
 

rustyb

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Hell yeah you can race it. I'm sure a lot of people have done it as a first race. Just be smart, don't drive over your head, be courteous and get out of the way of faster vehicles. NORRA is awesome because you have race sections and transit sections, and with plenty of time allotted for the transit sections, you have time to get out and stretch your legs, have a bite to eat, etc. You get to sleep in a bed at night. You have people running the race who love what they're doing and it shows. You can't beat a taco and beer party every night at the finish line!

Don't be intimidated by the fast guys with sponsorships-the majority of racers scrounge and save and forego retirement funds to do this. NORRA can be done a lot cheaper than the SCORE races as the courses are easier and don't beat the vehicle up as badly (rally cars finish!) and you can do it with a single chase vehicle. We've done it successfully twice, once in an old 1600 and once in a stock Rzr, with very minimal spares and one chase truck.

So many people dream of racing Baja and never do it. Life is short-live your dream!

See you down there in a couple years!!
 

volks 73

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Yes this will be are fifth NORRA in a row. I do most of it on my dime, My sons and a few friends help with prep and support during the race. They are also my co riders and help with some of the cost during the race . My wife handles all of the logistics and keeps everything on point going down the peninsula. We do it on a small budget and have a blast doing it. Make it happen you wont regret it.
 
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Dirty Harry

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I think that you are really wise to go down this year and check it out so you have an idea of what to expect when you show up with your truck to race. I’d recommend volunteering with a team or the race org to make the most of your time. They might still be looking for people to sweep the course, then you learn what people commonly break and how to get creative with fixes.


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Might I also suggest you team up with someone and forego building, then towing, that truck all that way?

I'm afraid too many builds become garage queens.

I don't think your timetable is realistic to build the truck, either.

What's your approximate budget for the build?

Do you have the skills and equipment to build an adequate cage?

How about the transmission or engine?

What's your budget, time-wise and financially, for racing the event?

BTW, is it a long or short bed truck?

To which rules will you adhere?
 
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NRT_Chris

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Yes you can!! Im doing it all on my own dime.. I have been fortunate to have a couple companies help me out with discounts but i have No Sponsors contributing cash... Other than my super understanding wife! haha;)

26219794_10155014396501671_4354531641030566892_n.jpg
 

baja_racer

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No.......No Joe's allowed !!! Of course you can, build it to the rule book for your class and race away.
 

Rory

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Save yourself a lot of money and go BUY a truck. You can buy an old used race truck/prerunner with mild suspension for a fraction of what you're going to spend on a build. All you have to do is find a sound truck with good parts on it, then maybe update the things you don't like at a reasonable cost. Trust me, i have had a few builds in my life, they will nickle and dime you to death. Here's a couple ideas:

A good top of the line NORRA truck ($45k)


Maybe this one for $16.5K OBO....



Or do a vintage buggy like this one for about $12-$15k.....



Let us know what you're looking for. I can tell you from personal experience that a ground up build will cost you twice or 3 times more than buying a vehicle that's complete. Usually you can get spares too which is also a huge added expense.
 

Zambo

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Listen to Rory on the vehicle and for sure come out and help a team race first or at least just follow the race in person.


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Nole Quiring

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Thanks for all the responses! I know its a big endeavor, especially starting from scratch. I'll try to answer all the responses everyone has given, please don't be offended if I miss one.

(rustyb) Hard to avoid being intimidated by the "big guys" when I would be green as grass. My biggest worry would be getting in the way and ruining somebody else's day!

(volks 73) My wife would likely be my most important factor too, she has to order for me when we are in a restaurant......

(Dirty Harry) The plan is go there in 2019 to try and get a feel for things. This year's race is too soon for me, I doubt I could make it. I would love to join up with someone racing to see if I could lend a hand but it might be tough to find someone willing to take a rookie in....

(Ol' Curmudgeon) Part of me wanting to do this is in the build. Why do you say the timetable isn't right? I'm trying to keep the truck relatively simple, and am aiming for the legend truck class.

My budget, well that is an ongoing thing. I have to buy parts as cash becomes available so that is why I've given myself a goal of being race-ready for 2020. I know that may sound haywire but I don't want to re-mortgage my house for this. As for a total-cost budget, I don't have an answer for that. I guess I'll see what it costs when its done.

Engine/transmission/driveline are planned out but nothing is set in stone obviously. The engine I have runs strong but I could blow it up, just like anything else.

I have the facilities to do the work to the truck, but I've never built a cage. Something I'm researching now so hopefully I get it right.

My time and finance budget for the actual race isn't a huge concern to me, I'm self employed so I can take the necessary time to do it. Cost? I've looked at the basic costs involved, and can cover the contingencies.

The truck is a short box conversion. Here it is as it sits:



(NRT Chris) My wife has been good so far, she's into the idea. Plus, she bought me a car a couple years ago so I'm pretty sure she's in it for the long haul!



(baja racer) Haha thanks for the warm welcome!

(Rory and Zambo) I get that buying can be cheaper than building. Two reasons I'm not though. As I said before, building it is half the fun, and if I tried to save up for a year or two to just buy one, it would never happen. Plain and simple. I don't have the cash to do it all up front, so I have to stretch it over a longer period of time even if the cost is higher. I know that probably doesn't make sense.

I do appreciate all the input, maybe it is just a pipe dream.
 

Dirty Harry

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It’s not a pipe dream, I drove this truck all the way to Cabo and back last year chasing the race!

IMG_4476.jpg
 
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Nole, we ALL want you to race! We are offering our own individual insights, gained over decades of racing.

I think your timetable is short because of this, "I know its a big endeavor, especially starting from scratch."

I agree with you. And you don't even begin to know what you don't know.

Go check out some of the truck build threads in the shop forums, note the start and end(if any) dates.

One young man I met here on rdc wanted to race, he started helping out with a sportsman team, and within a couple years was co-driving in a winning SCORE Baja 1000 truck, while being employed in the industry.

But he never built his own truck nor even owned one. (YMMV ;) )

In your case, renting a ride might actually be more practical than spending a lot of time travelling to the SW US and Baja developing relationships by volunteering with teams, but there are always teams hoping for another hand or two.

Speaking of teams, look into what you'd need to put together in terms of equipment, personnel, logistics, transportation, accommodations, spares and etc.

Then, you just might want to talk to good ol' Petey:

Pistol Pete

It's not as expensive as it may appear at first. Building a truck is often only the first third of racing costs.

Tell us more about the "short bed conversion."

We wish you the best, no matter your choice, but hope to stop you from heading down any dead ends.
 
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Zambo

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I totally get wanting the experience of building your own ride. But trust me, no matter what vehicle you have, there will be PLENTY of time dedicated to building and modifying things. The last thing you're going to say when its over is "man I wish I had spent more time in the garage."

I also get the pain of plunking down a thick chunk of coin all at once rather than doing it a bit at a time. But here is the deal, suppose you want to race 2020.....if you spend a grand a month between now and then it'll be 25k, which is barely enough to build anything for the desert that will finish this race and you haven't even ponied up the entry fee, fuel, hotel rooms, etc yet.

I don't know if anybody mentioned this idea yet, but one of the reasons the UTV classes are so big is because guys can finance the car. Sure you can buy a built UTV but you're back in the same boat as a truck where you have to plunk down all the money at once. You can buy a brand new UTV for about 500 a month. You'll still have to spend money getting it race ready but it'll be a lot easier. And, being on the east coast, there are a lot more areas I'd think back there where you can ride it compared to a desert truck. And down the road if you move up to something else they make great prerunners. Spare parts are easy to find and so common that if you break something you stand a good chance of still finishing the race, either with your own spare or something you borrow from another team. Something to think about.
 

Rory

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It would be cheaper to go out and get a loan for $15k and buy a truck that's 80% the way you want it, then finish the rest. If it's going to take you until 2020 to get the truck done you're still most likely going to need spares:

Drive lines, wheels, tires, alternator, distributor, radius arms, spindles, brake calipers, rod ends, 3rd member, axles, lubricants, radiator, oil cooler, Trans, torque converter.....blah blah blah.

Even if all of these parts are used you are going to be about $5k worth of stuff. Then of course you need a trailer, a GOOD trailer. Trailer prep and chase vehicle prep will also be a huge endeavor.

Hope you don't think we are trying to talk you out of this but if you are on a budget you are not doing yourself any favors by starting from scratch. If money is that tight it might be a better idea to find a partner and go 50/50 on a vehicle. It took me 4 years to build my first 4 seater and cost me almost twice as much as I thought it would. Good luck with whatever you decide.......
 

Zambo

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Also I want to add to the UTV thought above that in NORRA, the stock UTV class is pretty darn stock. You can run the stock cage, fuel tank, etc. Competitive advantage is somewhat limited because you can't make the car wider or longer than stock or remount the shocks in a different place, add a bigger fuel cell, or any of that stuff which would put a mostly stock UTV at an insurmountable disadvantage.
 

Nole Quiring

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I guess I'm stubborn, I just really want to build a truck. I like projects, maybe more than the finished product. I spent the last couple years building my 55 and I haven't raced it. Not sure why, I could have taken it to the track last summer or the year before. I gave myself a goal of 2020 because I had to aim for something. If its finished by then, great I'm on track. If not, this is a hobby to me and I'm not going to break the bank to get it done. I'll try for the following year and when you say "I told you so" I'll agree with you and buy you a beer.

It doesn't really interest me to buy someone else's vehicle, or a utv. I don't know if that makes sense, there's just a certain way I want to do it. Win, lose, or busted, I want to do it in the ride I built.

I don't mean to sound as if I'm ignoring the advice here, because I'm not. I'm not fooling myself that I'm an expert on it. I know there is a significant cost of both time and money to doing this. But despite the cautions, I'm going to try building myself anyway. And, since I do plan on following through with it, I also plan to spend some time here to learn more as I go. I'm sure I'll continue to have questions until the day its finished, and I hope the members here are as helpful the whole way through (as they have been so far). I'm good with constructive criticism.

That being said, I sure hope I don't fall on my face with this project now!
 

Nole Quiring

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That's the rule book I've been looking at (not sure if there's a more recent/comprehensive version). Yes my truck started out as a long bed. I shortened the frame between the cab and rear axle so all the chassis/suspension geometry is identical.

I should clarify that I removed a section of the frame directly behind the cab. I didn't relocate the spring hangers or anything else. I lapped the front section of frame inside the rear, basically each section is a fish plate for the other.

Here are a couple quick pics, feel free to add them to your "shop of horrors" archives!





 
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