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Baja Belk

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What a rad week that was, now that I can finally breathe easy after crossing the finish line. We had an amazing week also in 2018 and then disaster struck on the last day, so I was pretty tense/anxious all week this time not wanting to count any chickens. I was excited to have Ben and Pete on board to return the favor of driving their car at the 1000. If Ben was nervous to sit in the right seat (like I would be), he didn't show it. My absolute least favorite part of racing is the day before, morning of, and staging. Once that green flag drops, all the anxiety of pre-race problems goes away, and I can just.....drive. The start to Ojos was completely dust-free, with the only hiccup being a slightly over-sent jump at Piedras Gordas. Oops. Ben very calmly, as if we were sharing a cup of tea, told me "Mike, it's not my car, but you may want to calm down just a bit. It's a long week." Yeah yeah, ok, whatever.

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We picked off a few open prerunner buggies, but had some difficulty getting into a navigational groove, and had to u-turn a couple times in thick traffic and dust. When I missed another abrupt course change, Ben told me to turn-around, but I opted to stay on the main road seeing that it would probably meet back up with the marked course in only a few hundred yards. Which it did, but turns out there was one of Eliseo's signature "gotcha" waypoints on the way we didn't go. Frustrating, since it was basically an either-or, with no real advantage staying on the main road which was very rocky and whooped out. Huge bummer, as those 10 minutes cost us what would have been an official 2nd overall, after other penalties were doled out to 5 of the other cars in front of us. The rest of the day was very clean, just lots of passing in a seemingly endless line of 4-seat V8 prerunners and some cool vintage trophy trucks.

Ben and Pete drove a fast and clean Day 2 to BOLA, and were even kind enough to bring the car in with no real needs other than a quick fluid top-off and a wipe down. I slept outside on a cot on a patio with an expansive view of the bay, waking up to a beautiful sunrise. I love Baja.

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Day 3 - The Long One. This was a near exact route of the one I did in 2018, so I knew that while it was going to be a long day, it was also going to be a ton of fun. And it was. We had some issues with a rather salty veteran in a big red prerunner not wanting to let us pass, despite P2P'ing him about 30x, and him even giving me a false green light about 5 times. Once we finally got him to let us by, we had mostly clean air all the way to San Ignacio. Stopping for fuel and a sandwich, we jumped back into the staging line for Special #2, and to our demise, found ourselves right behind the same red buggy. Great. We caught him again near El Datil, and, as a testament to how well these 5 cars can handle in the rough, caught him pretty rapidly in the long sandy whoops. He let us by this time without much fuss, but then, as we immediately entered a 25 mph speed zone, he was right on my driver's side bumper giving me the body language of someone who wants to pass me back. Seriously? I LITERALLY just passed you like 30 seconds ago. We exit the speed zone right into the hard-packed tidal flats, and the drag race was on. For having about 400 HP on me, I was surprised that we gapped him pretty quickly, and when I looked over at the GPS, I was even more surprised to see we were doing 107. Well that's a new record for our cars, and not too shabby for a stock 2.5 on Mexican pump gas. Our mirrors were clear and I never saw him again.

Things were seeming pretty perfect until about 380 miles into a 420 mile day. I suddenly had the brake pedal go to the floor on a hard turn, and found that I had good pedal unless I pumped it 2-3x, and then it went away completely. Miraculously, one of the VERY few professional pits (MAG 7), was just ahead, so we pulled in and asked them to look at all the brake lines. They did, and told us everything looked fine. Huh, weird. We took off, made a left onto the pavement at La Purisima, and immediately heard a very loud CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK. I pulled over, we both jumped out fearing a broken axle, and found the passenger rear caliper had simply fallen off and was now wedged in the wheel. We jumped in, spun around, went the 40 yards back to MAG 7, told them they did a terrible look-over, and then gladly accepted their help in yanking the caliper off. We had it off, strapped to the spare, the line capped, reservoir checked (good), and back on the road in only about 10 minutes. I was just starting to get a feel for corner braking on 3 brakes a few miles later, when we randomly had the left rear tire go flat. Oh c'mon man. It had been an incredibly rocky course, so I think the tires were finally starting to give up. Changed the flat and cruised for the finish, very happy to be in Loreto. The 511 car also had a flat early in the day, and came in not too far behind us. So far, so good.

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Day 4 - Switcheroo. Ben was slated to drive my car again today, and with 511 having used up all it's drivers and wanting to save my dad for the next and final day, I jumped in for a little friendly head-to-head with Ben. I knew he was at a disadvantage only having 3 brakes and me insisting that he take it easy, with most of our competition over 90 minutes behind us. Even still, I know he's fast, and I thought if I was lucky, I might catch him late in the day and follow him in case they had any issues that needed our support. I sort of forgot about the 15 cars in between us, and was in dust-hell immediately, and for pretty much the rest of the day. Mike T and I were also clearly tired after 4 days of racing, and were not at our best. Especially when I tried to go off-course in the silt to pass a Bronco, out of pure frustration for being stuck behind him, and immediately drove straight through a refrigerator-sized cholla. This was the low point of our whole week, now being completely pin-cushioned with nearly invisible spines that we couldn't see to pull out, but could certainly feel, with still over 200 miles to go.

We left the starting line for Special 2 only a few cars back from Ben, but still in pain, breathing straight dust (we didn't know at the time the Parker Pumper filter had fallen off), and immediately back into the thick dust of a vintage trophy Bronco. This particular Bronco, owned by a very well known Jeep parts manufacturer, became our nemesis for the next 80 miles. It was mostly tight quarters and very soft/dusty, and I simply couldn't get close enough to his bumper, even though we were less than 100 yards from him the entire time. Whenever we made a sweeping turn or entered a speed zone where we could see his lights, we would give him the P2P, which was constantly ignored. FINALLY, I came over a rise and he had blown a turn. We lit him up with the siren, flashing lights, and P2P, and I was staring right at his helmet coming at him broadside. To my dismay, he lurched back onto the course right in front of us. I knew he saw us, so now I was a little upset, and we moved directly into his driver-side mirror glued to his bumper. After a few tight turns and roosts, I knew he had no intention of letting us by, and my heart was sinking, when suddenly my bumper touched his. Oops. Miraculously he pulled over this time, and we had clean air for the first time in 200 miles. We immediately picked off a couple other cars, and Ben was getting very clear over the radio. We had a few nice chit-chats about majestic horses galloping next to his car, and speed zone observations, etc. After a particularly long speed zone, and thinking we should be near the coast and the end of the special, we were cooking along pretty good over a blind rise (straight course, no warnings), and came in weightless onto a complete rock garden. Having not much steering or brakes in the air, we pinged off a couple rocks and got a deserved-flat a few miles later. It was a quick change but a train of 5 cars back to back to back to back went by us, including Don, who was having a good day in their car. We crept along the next 40 very rocky miles to the finish, not wanting to risk another flat with no spare. We pulled into La Paz hot, tired, dusty, prickly, and now had to find and grovel apologetically to the guy I had hit so as to not get DQ'd. They were hot at first, as my 2500 lb bug had caused catastrophic damage to their........license plate (of their 6,000 lb truck). I happily offered to pay for the damage (I mean, I had $50 in my pocket, that should cover it), but eventually we smoothed things over and it was all good.

Just happy to be alive and stoked that Ben had another flawless day in the "A" car, we went back our brothel, oops, cancelled those rooms, found a nearby and better place, plucked cactus needles out of my arms, neck, and shoulders, jumped in the pool, and then went to work on the cars. Other than having to fill a wheelbarrow with cactus removed from the skid pan, and discovering the PP filter on the floorpan with two pieces of cholla inside it, the cars were in really good shape heading in to the dreaded final day, with one hour between cars, and another hour ahead of Don in 3rd, who had won the day and was pushing hard to keep us honest.

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I woke up quiet and tense the next morning, and was not much interested in premature celebrations or laughing at the breakfast table. I was back in 512, my dad not too far behind me in 511, and we set out for the last short sprint to the finish. My anxiety ended up being all for naught, as we had a pretty fun day, cruising on 3 brakes through a pretty twisty course, but managing to pass a couple cars and only got passed once by a 4WD Jakal Class 1. Cabo wash coming in to the finish was actually one of the most fun sections of the entire week. Despite fearing that every noise, smell, and vibration was some catastrophic failure about to blow, we rounded the last corner and an enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders. We pulled over to the side and waited for my dad who rolled in in limp mode, the motor very upset with him for that last sprint through the soft wash.

Both cars went under the final banner side by side, 1st and 2nd, which was the original and ultimate goal. I knew we could and should do it, but with all that can go wrong down here, and our multi-year string of horrible luck, I had my doubts we actually would.

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Can't say enough good things about Ben and Pete, who I will never forgive for Seatbelt-Gate but who were both a pleasure to race with all week. The Precepts team was a little short-handed, missing LJ, Dave, and Brian, as well as Ronnie and Doug in support, but Charlie, Nick, Tonio, Bruce, and Omar all played a huge roll - everyone except Omar either driving or navigating at least one day, and not resting each day until the cars were prepped and cleaned.

Congrats to Don who gave us all we could handle after an unfortunate Day 1 put him way back.

Hat's off to NORRA for a great event and a not-boring awards ceremony on the beach.

If you guys haven't done this race - you should. Not only is it one-of-a-kind, it also is one of the most competitive Class 5 races out there. 8 cars started this race, which is more than any other recent race can boast. Let's get 10-12 cars out there next year and really have a blast!

Viva Baja

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swiftracing5

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Feel like throwing some words at the wall here to see what sticks, give a mid-2022 update on class things and see if anyone is willing to do the same.

Class 5 coalition- it’s not dead, but it’s not the 2020/21 version. I still have $5000 to give away at the next 2 club races (MORE fall race, rage). Have to run stock ecotec to be eligible. I’m not keeping points anymore, it was fun and had its ups and downs but the focus now is to just keep the buzz alive. I’m working on doing better at this. I’m now on my own with the coalition happenings so if you’d like to DM or text me thoughts and ideas for 2023 I’d love to hear from you. Obviously I’ll send out the poll later in the year but not inundate you all with 15 race choices.

Rules- c5c is stepping away from the rules dustcloud. Cody updated the MORE rules, awesome, hopefully we will get some feedback on them as the year goes on. You can only force your kid to play baseball so much until they hate baseball and want to play soccer…

There is not an end-all answer. I am here to answer questions or give feedback, I’ve become less biased over the last 8-10 months thanks to a handful of constructive calls/texts. I’ve talked to builders and promoters, But I’m not going to push an agenda. If I’ve learned anything from the 6100 saga, it never ends.

Class buzz- it seems like half the class is soldiering on as usual: Promer, Jackson, Spitz. The other half is standing pat as business is their focus. Cars have been sold for good amounts of money, couple cars being built. I don’t think the economy is the problem with low car counts as much as racing is just not 15-20 team’s main focus like it has been over the last 4/5 years

524 car- car is at Jakes getting patched up from the 1000. There is a less motivation than the last couple seasons, I’m trying to find it! Would like to race a fall race and maybe win some of Drews money I’ve been holding onto all year. Like Zac has said, money motivates. Will see if we can get some buzz and car counts for the fall races.

I love keeping up with everyone’s situations and hope we can all stay connected even if we aren’t racing.
 

Zac Reish

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Good post Ben. Thank you for all you thought and effort. The class is better because of you. I’ve been focusing on being a good dad to the only 2 kids I’ll ever have. My time with them as young kids will be short and I get a lot more gratification these days spending time with them and my wife than I do in the drivers seat. 2nd focus is moving my place of business off my property.. Time to grow up and make this work. Racing at this time is a very low priority.
 

AaronMacomber

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Dec 25, 2021
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Class 5 guys: need your input here..

Im going to finally try running my silly 5 car in the CA300 in the actual 5U class. past years ive ran in vintage classes due to costs and lack of experience. The Mint has a sealed and tagged engine requirement for 5U, so im assuming that will transfer to the 300 as well. the car is a BUDGET build running a Ford Duratec 2.0 engine. that being said, ive also DNF'd my two races due to an electical issue first year, and ripping my trailing arm out of the car this year. im honestly just trying to finish. I HIGHLY doubt ill disrupt the standings of you guys that are playing for keeps.

My question to you guys...Would any of you have issue if I can race without the sealed and tagged requirement? Ive started dialog with the race promoters, but also want to make sure im not going to upset any of the guys i will be running with. Im not trying to cheat or work around the rules in
ANY way...just living in Seattle makes some of these things difficult to get done.
 
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swiftracing5

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Exciting to hear! Wishing you luck. I don’t have any issue with it. Not sure they will even enforce it unless you are protested. I was curious what rules they were using too.
 

AaronMacomber

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Exciting to hear! Wishing you luck. I don’t have any issue with it. Not sure they will even enforce it unless you are protested. I was curious what rules they were using too.
Thank you!

Im old school. I just try to get everything figured out ahead of time instead of throwing a fit that my technically non-spec car isnt allowed to race day of LOL
 

AaronMacomber

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Aaron, 2 questions:
Have you been to Barstow?
Does your car still have no power steering?
its been about 20 years since ive been in Barstow, so for arguments sake- no. lol
and yes on power steering. I ran out of time before the mint to get the PS working, but that was the first thing i did when i got back.
 

dzrtdave

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Is there a forum for the 5U cars other than this? This one is fine just fine just don’t want to miss something. I’m building a full chassis 5U now but it will probably be fall before it’s finished.
 
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swiftracing5

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Is there a forum for the 5U cars other than this? This one is fine just fine just don’t want to miss something. I’m building a full chassis 5U now but it will probably be fall before it’s finished.
Class 5 Coalition has occasional traffic but it seems like most info comes through here!
 
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