The problem with racing in Mexico, especially Ensenada, is that you are really risking your life. Not that driving a race car is not risking your life, but in Mexico your chances are worse. I have my personal reasons for not going to Mexico, and most of them are from my dad. The last time I went to the Baja 500, my dad was racing in his 8 truck. The race started in downtown Ensenada, and ran 35 miles of asphalt before finally hitting the dirt. As my dad was about to take off the line on this, Sal came and told him to be carefull because a mexican police officer had just pulled out in front of motorcycle racer danny hammel and killed him. Danny had been riding at well over 100 mph when this cop suddenly pulled out in front of him. He had no place to go, and hit the cop at 100 mph instantly killing him. How safe is it running over 130 mph in a car, down asphalt with hundreds of thousands of people less than a foot away from your car while avoiding traffic. That isnt racing, it is stupid. Another instance in the same race. My dad was on another section of the course, running on asphalt again. He was going well over 100 mph again, when an old hatchback pinto pulled out in front of him going 20 mph, loaded with 4 kids in the back looking out the rear window. He got all over the brakes, and realized that these kids were going to die. He had a semi truck in the other lane coming at him, so his only choice was to drive off the road into the bar ditch. As he swung into the bar ditch,, there was a 5 foot tall cement culvert there. He hit it going over 80 miles an hour and some how cleared the 25 foot gap between it and the other side. After that he vowed never to race in mexico until things changed. A couple of years later, some people got held up while pre running, got died up by them selves out in the middle of the desert, and had there pre runner stolen. The same year a racer got shot in the leg by a mexican in the middle of the race. What about the countless rock throwings and booby traps. Is it worth wadding up your 150000 dollar race car just to race in mexico. I dont think so. I am not saying that racing in mexico should be done away with, I just think some things should change.
Though the pole is about 50/50 right now, are there any racers that would post comments in favor of racing in Mexico? I think that I should have put this pole together in a way that would reflect the racers and spectators views separately.
This was my first Baja Race but I have done several races in Rocky Point and both experiences have been really good.
I personally try to maintain a low profile in Mexico - No late nights or wild ripping around on bikes/cars. So far this strategy has proven to be really good and makes for a great racing environment. I saw a couple of booby traps in Baja that kinda sucked but if you know the warning signs (large group of nationals standing around looking innocent) then just slow down a little and see what they are watching. We didn't get the rock throwing or policia hassles.
I think we can get hassled just as much in the states as in Mexico sometimes (BLM at Whiplash Parker Race or Laughlin were pretty militaristic). From my experience, treat everyone with the degree of respect that you yourself expect and everything generally goes pretty well.. Of course there are those one offs that tend to screw up the experience but hell what can you do about those - they happen everywhere...
Mexico is a great place to race with many challenges that you dont deal with in the U.S., it really seperates the men from the boys. One new situation that has come up in the last couple baja races is the highway sections. From a racers point of view we have no idea how to run these sections, do you take a chance and go wide open and hope you dont get stopped like some people do. I know for a fact I lost alot of time to other class 1 guys because of the highway sections. For example out of Santa Tomas the police pulled in front of me and we proceeded to Urupan at a blazing speed of 15-20 mph but the car that was just 2 minutes ahead of me was allowed to go alot faster. Score needs to address this situation or keep us off the highways. I always find it interesting that we were allowed to run the highway with no speed limit but it still open for normal traffic. I passed a motorhome last year at the baja 500 at 130 mph how safe was that for both of us but if you dont you are losing time.
On the subject of racing on the Highways in Mexico. We were at the first highway section, highway 3, and at the section that Steve mentioned above on highway 1 north out of Santa Tomas. And at both sections there were police escorts but only for some of the racers and running at totally different speeds. This could decide a race! The way some of the classes run so close together on time now days, the way the highway situation is run down there could easily decide the winner of the race. And it seemed that the police were selective as to whom they would jump in front of to slow down too. This could raise all kinds of questions too as far as what their motivation is as far as who to slow down and who not to.
With regard to participant and spectator safety in running on the highway, there are a few methods that may prove successful. I watched the highway section in Ojos Negros. The course exited at the same location that RG wadded up his truck on Thursday. I would suggest that rather than run the highway make the spectators remain on the left side of the road and no pitting allowed. The racers would come to the highway, Score officials would monitor highway traffic, and inform the racers when it is safe to cross the highway. The course would then proceed in the dirt area on the right hand side of the highway, the shoulder, rather than on the highway amidst traffic. This may not work in all areas that the highway is utilized for the course. There were far too many close calls and near misses that endangered all parties involved.
Racing in Mexico? Hell yes! Part of the thrill is that when racing in Mexico, your in Mexico! I've been robbed in Mexico. I've been beat up in Mexico. I've been shot at in Mexico. I've been arrested for pissing on a fence in Mexico. Injured in Mexico, you bet. Complete strip search at a drug checkpoint, only once. I've been involved in Tijuana crossing fender benders in Mexico. Rocks, booby traps, cops on the take, thieves, pissed off farmers, crazy locals, drug dealers landing a cessna out in the desert and then taking off with a heavy load... it's all part of what makes Mexico, Mexico!
It's like a thrill ride, there's always a chance something could happen and you'd be killed - that's why the rush is so good. Driving 100mph on a highway in Mexico chasing your car/truck/bike/lawnmower, no matter how stupid it might be, is a blast. Getting nutty in Ensenada, San Felipe, Cabo or wherever, is great. I watched my uncle wad up a then new two-seat Jimco 1-car in a trap a few years ago - damn near totalled the entire front end. That car was one of MANY that had hit the same trap, same results, total carnage. I agree it sucks, but that is part of racing in Mexico. Nobody tries to hide the fact that racing in Mexico is WAY more dangerous than in the US, if you race in Mexico, you better damn well expect trouble somewhere during the race. Most of us have stories involving racing in Mexico that scare the crap out of most non-racer type folk. I remember 6 or 7 years ago the farmers decided to give the big F-U to Sal mid-race, closing down their land with force. I heard a call on our radio that our car had just been SHOT AT by some farmers... The next thing I new I saw a big ol' barracade up ahead on the highway... tons of farm equipment and farm trucks on one side of the road, and the Mexican troops in their Humvees on the other... those balsy doofs were actually shooting at each other. How many race promoters in the US do you think could get the National Guard to open fire on someone just so the show can go on? Where else can you give a cop a t-shirt, a hat, some steekers, and get out of just about anything? Imagine a CHP officer pulls you over for going 100mph on the 5-freeway... you talk to him for awhile, give him a phat grab bag of old steekers and race stuff, and then proceed on your merry way with just a simple warning and a smile...
Mexico isn't for everyone. I don't have any idea why someone in their right mind would want to race in Mexico, and I don't care.
P.S. - I think someone should start a thread of "craziest mexico moments" somewhere.
Just a reminder for people with arguments of why it is bad down there. Turn on the news today, or open up your local newspaper. How many robberies, or shootings or murders do you think you come accross here in the states everyday. One thing I think that is blown out of proportion is that something happens down there and people bring it up like that is the only place on earth where it happens. And that you are totally safe sitting right at home. Unfortunately that is far from the truth. Hell, you could go to your bank today and get shot at because you are in the middle of the place being robbed.
I'm not saying that bad things don't happen in Baja, just remember that they happen everywhere..... How many school shootings do you hear about in Baja??? That has to be one of the sickest things I hear about and it's right here in our safe little country......
Most importantly just remember to allways watch your back, and travel in groups when possible down there. I have been going for almost five years and it has been great. Only had one Ice chest stolen and that was this year. Oh well....
And yes, the fish tacos are great... carne asada too...
Racing in Mexico, is more of a mental thinking race, because of the different types of terrain. Unlike the U.S. races where its drive fast for the most part. As far as the Highway thing, Yes its unfair that some cars get escorted though while others don't. But think about it, Its Mexico, they want money. They really don't care about the race, its how much can they get for impounding a vehicle, fines, or whatever...... I say do it like they did back in the early 90's, You have a chase truck pick up your vehicle coming onto the highway and pace them at 45 mph, that way laws (supposably) are not broken, and it makes sure that you vehicle isn't getting escorted at 25 mph..... The only thing is, how do you know if everyone is getting escorted through..... and not breaking the speed limit????? Well I don't know, maybe set up some flagman before they turn back onto the dirt, with a radar gun?????
If the race car has no escort, they serve a penalty????? These are thing that would have to be worked out????????????? DON'T KNOW.................Pretty Damn Stupid if you think about it getting pulled over in a race car..............
I have been going down to Mexico since 1981 and have to say that it has been my experience that the problem isn't the people down there but the law enforcement agencies are another story. Back in the mid 80's myself and some friends were south north of Ensanada driving on the beach (not to smart) when two federalize came up demanding the keys to my friends truck to “impound” it. Knowing he would never see the Chevy 4x4 again, he chanced it and took off........ with two M16A1's pointed at him! And just a couple of month's ago Scott and I were coming back across the border at TJ and the local cops were pulling over American's to extort money from them. They got us for $60.00 for me not wearing a seat belt, which I did have on. It was that or go to jail for lying to the cop about having it on. What can you do, it's Mexico and I will always go back for the <font color=red>FISH TACO'S!!!<font color=red>
There is corruption everywhere. Here its not that obvious but its still there. Political contributions and $5000 a plate dinners ? Get a DUI have an attorney spend $5000+ and you are not doing any time, no community work and get your driving privs back in no time... the list goes on and on. Money talks. We just can't bribe a cop for $60 on a speeding charge, down south you can.
Its a foreign country and you are the outsider..just keep that in mind. Play by the rules and chances that something bad happens are slim.
Fish Tacos ? I only eat them in San Felipe...We had beef/cheese tacos this time. Good stuff.
How sweet would it be to bribe a cop in the states for $60 and a fish taco! Sheesh, nowadays you have to pay the ticket, traffic school, and higher ins. premiums.
Mex is a place to respect just like any other town, city, or country. The best you can do is be good people and try to have fun. Been there and paid my way out of several tickets...given stickers, hats, even old flip-flops because they were American (Policia put the damn things on before I even pulled away!). Whatever! I beleive places and events are as safe as you make it. Yes, there are uncontrollable conditions and good guys get the shaft for no apparent reason sometimes; however, my positive experiences down in Mex have far outweighed the negative ones.
How about those retired people who just got booted from their land by the farmers....no $, they spent their savings, and they get kicked off of land they legally had the rights to...Now that is [!@#$ed up]!!!
Good points being made here.....
I think alot of it has been stated on the old board (R.I.P) some time back.
Its tough when some people we know have a rough time down there, but alot of us go down there because its such an adventure.
As far as the fish tacos, the ones in SF @ the start/ finish @ 7am were some of the best! You know the one!
And lets not forget stopping off for the mandatory plate of "langosta" in Puerto Nuevo on the way home from Ensenada!!
Gabe - Remeber when SF had the old boardwalk before they remodeled it...Those were the days of good fish tacos and cervezas. Dirt on the ground behind the flame broiled meat thing on the vertical rotisserie and the restroom was a bucket behind a hanging sheet.
Good point on the Puerto Nuevo lobster...Has to be served Puerto Nuevo style, Yummy! w/plenty of torts
Not all cops are bad ones.....
Two years ago at sanfelipe after we ran our car (51600) through tech. 7 of us where "hanging" from the race car on our way back to the hotel. We must of been doing like 5 mph (if not less) cause of all the traffic. Well we got pulled over by this cop. We started small offering only 20 bucks then 40 and he wouldnt take it....so we werent gonna give him more of our beer money. He said just follow me to the station. we were like "great, theyll probably want to impound the race car". When we got to police station they just told us to pay the fine and we could be on our way. The fine was $7.50.
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