Baja 1000 Facts, Heros and Mishaps

What The Facts – No Country For Old Sissies

El Chinero’s Views
– A Compendium Of “Thou” Tales –

WTF 56%
• Total Starters: 328
• Total Finishers: 185
• 56.4 Percent

WTF 10 & 12
No “10s” or “12s” in Top 25 but FIVE “1600s”

WTF Ensenada
Well, the bike guys are waking up … fiddle-farting with their fanny packs, goggles, and radios for the tenth time …
Someone has probably fired up their bike!
The parking lots are starting to stir.
Someone is throwing up behind a truck somewhere from too much fun last night.
Someone is sound asleep and will be panicking in about an hour and a half … no wake-up call.
Someone is taking a cold shower because the hot water doesn’t work in the hotel.
In another hour you will start hearing the echoes of engines running throughout Ensenada.
I miss it.
Everyone have fun and be safe.

WTF Rescue #6
Ambulance’s battery was off-line: “Green stuff on the battery poles.”

WTF Yuma
The balloon festival fans loading up WXMan 151.625. Bob begged, cajoled, reasoned, threatened, finally invoking the FCC!

HUGE crowds obscured Borrego’s pit banners, pit signs, and pit entrances.

WTF #501 – Drew Belk
Jim and Ann Anderson lost a rear arm pivot bolt at RM31 in the red Drew Belk convert. They “borrowed” a bolt from Syko’s #7 TT. (The PCI truck had blowed up a motor.) They ran hard with Kevin Carr’s #500 until they got a flat at RM170, which they changed in the field. Their light bar actuator came undone and they had to cable tie it in place. Not very effective aiming from then on.


WTF #1X – Team Kawasaki
The Kaw helo would not start race morning. A 24 vdc start pack was rigged and they took off. Not a good aviation sign.

WTF 13X – Mike Childress
At Borrego rider swap he complained of a “vapor lock” on the Honda bike after the first fuel dump.

WTF #261 – Mike Kaplan
KX500 Two-Stroke AA Fuel Bike — stopped for a leisurely lunch at the Locos Mocos Tacos: “I gotta keep my strength up!”


They say that he “chilled out” by Mike’s and packed it in.

WTF #118 – Brad Etter
Brad Etter broke a rear arm: “Which size is it?”, was the chaser’s reply.

WTF #519 – Che Corlett
A red ”181” Thing was found stranded in Matomi Wash. The steering shaft had became disconnected. A Vise-Grip fixed that. Chase truck went into Matomi, from Puertocitos Road, towing a trailer and instantly got stuck.

WTF #807 – Greer Brothers
Greers Vs. Simpson’s water crossing – the Dodge got caught up in the waters of Tepi … “Rio San Rafael” … the same stream as at Mike’s. They got stuck, got pulled back, made another run (through their same ruts), pulled back, stuck, pulled back … then pulled across. Cars waited for two hours.

“My car was at the top of the hill, Mikey Lawrence was in front of me, then a Class 1, then Jon K in his Jeep. From there I think there was a 5/1600, a PT, and a Class 8 before the water hole with the two Class 8s stuck. The Hummer and General Tire Stock 8 drove by everyone, not sure if they used their 4WD to help or not. Fun Fun Fun.” Wardy

WTF #901 – Zach Burkett
Amazing that they thought that they could “do” the Baja in such a marginal vehicle. They started off by getting 14 roll-cage dings from Savage’s savages. They showed up at ORW/San Marcos where a there-by-chance shop owner saw the issues … and volunteered his shop, labor, time, and materials. To clear Tech, anyway.


George Reiss – Reiss Racing and Restoration – was in my store while these guys were floundering in my parking lot and he ran out to offer his services at my request. He got them to the start, I think!

Car was a travesty: thin aluminum seat pans with ½-inch foam padding; laid-down back-toward-the-rear rear shocks of some odd type … with rubber biscuits; a Ruhr Valley iron VW hood for the front end; horrible welds. Stock steering box, stamped shock towers, unequal tie rods, clamped beams (i.e., no anti-movement tack welds), stock arms (not “181’), flattened tube skid plate “support”)

They “missed” “BFG 1”

WTF #107 – Robert LeMaster
This was the home-made car from west Tennessee. They should have gone to a SCORE race, prior to the “1000”. The mid-engined car was ungodly HUGE!


“If 107 was the ‘Fartucky’ built ‘1’ car. Off the line they gassed it hard, lots of revs, noise, and spinning tires for twenty feet. Then they got on the brakes, hard, and idled through the first corner and beyond.”

It was reportedly seen along Hwy 3 out of Ojos.
It did not reach “BFG 1”.

“I heard that @ mile 42 it was on fire and by 50 it had been reclaimed by the universe …” Jan

WTF #59 – Greg Potts
Q: “I would like some info on #59, Greg Potts.”

A1: “I think that was the green TT right? McMullen built? If so, he was staying down by us near La Bufadora and the night before the race (he) was running up and down the street and the motor sounded like shit. Hope that helps.”

A2: “(#59) went through Tech; did not start with 1s or TTs.”

WTF #201
“Joe Hauler stopped in our pit. His crew changed out the (snowmobile) clutch which was packed w/ silt & not opening up all the way. Gave him a sandwich which he started eating, his other hand pulled out his dick and, while pissing no-handed, he reached in his leg pocket for safety equipment and lighter. Real talent. True multitasking.”

WTF #84 & #71
Borrego #5 – dusk. Rick Johnson flew up pit road with LeDuc so close on his tail that one could not see his headlights. They were both on the throttle, hard … velocity estimates ran from 70 miles per hour to 80. A Nose-to-tail tale. #84 was so close that he had no dust … and no forward vision. (Assumed it was The Duck of the Desert … no simple dairyman could do that.)

“Le Duc made the pass by the end of the pit area. I was in the BFG pit when they screamed by. Those people who were standing between the row of tires and the course were all on their butts from falling backwards over those tires.

The hoot and holler that went up all across Borrego was fantastic. I talked to Curt on Saturday and he was laughing about it. “

#84 – “Unfortunately … near race mile 455 the oil temp started to climb alarmingly. They managed to limp in to the KC pits at El Coyote and discovered that the fan had lost one of its blades and that the broken fan blade had gone though the radiator. The spare radiator and fan were in the pits in Valle T so they tried to repair the radiator and were successful only to discover that they had lost a head gasket due to the overheating.”

WTF #101 & #804
Borrego #5 – dusk. Armin’s “All-German” M5 BMW ran so hard on the “8” of Mike Szlauko that he pushed the truck out of the groove and sideways over the berm. BFG crewman scattered like chickens in an Ojos Negro yard.

WTF Deutschland
Borrego #5 – dusk. Armin Schwartz’ publicist, Rainer, was at the local taqueria: “Tony! Like good Germans we are testing the local ‘Bier’. Here!” (Hands me a Tecate)

“Borrego looked more like Woodstock then a desert race with all the people, T- shirt vendors, and at least three food vendors, plus beer and coffee sales. Crazy.”

WTF – 209X & 210X
209X Doron Kollan, Fountain Hills, Ariz., Yamaha WR450F
210X Zachy Moritz, Fountain Hills, Ariz., Yamaha WR450F

Not Zoners. They came from Is-rye-al. Flew over, bought bikes, entered race. Made it to mile 205 (Borrego). One had a bum knee. Had no chase. Girlfriend of one hitched rides from pit to pit for support.

One of the bikes (still) had Metal Mullisha grafix from previous owner.

Think about it.

WTF #1448 – Rory Ward
Wardy had a loose fuel vent line and doused his tire on the left-hand sweeper at RM0.326. He spun out … locals ran over, determined and implemented the fix, and sent The Crayola King on his way to a 40th OA finish … solo.

“23:22:29. Would have been 11th in Class 1, behind Pat Dean & TJ Flores.” (Rory’s car used to be Pat’s!)


And a rank Baja rookie, too.

WTF #1401 – George Jackson
The “Snarlin’ Chollas’ radioed WXMan to request a late start … the suspected electrical problem turned out to be dirty jets in the Weber. Flog. This condition reared its ugly head much later on. Time 4 Fram?

WTF #114 – Eric Chase’s “Regulator” chasers – San Felipe
“The guys next to us were from Arizona and racing a bike so they were in their garage prepping, getting psyched.”

“Oh I almost forgot, when we got back to our place after the long day our neighbors were in the garage with the race bike putting a light on the green Kawi. I asked what they were doing and they said that their light was not working so they were going to put a new light on and head back out in the morning. Erik and I looked at each other smiled and just said “Good luck’. I think they thought it was Dakar or something … do not know what they were thinking. The next morning they made it to ‘Mike’s’ and that was it.”

WTF #114 – The Chases
“I head to Borrego to fetch Tellier to ride with me to RM190 for the designated emergency tire replenishment station before the rock garden. Just as we are to leave, Eric’s sat phone rings. #114 has rolled down into a canyon at RM34 and will need heavy equipment or winch to recover. Shit. It’s a good two hour drive but what the hell, we head to Ojos. Ole Yellar is a stud with the new EFI stroker and we make short work of the highway.

We are the first truck to Stu and find a Baja Challenge car above them on the ledge. Try to pull it back up but have to abort because it’s going to simply roll downhill and land upside down on top of #114 below it. Need a winch. One of the BC Super Dutys shows up and tries the same pull I tried.
No bueno.

Wait for another BC Super Duty with a winch. It shows up and tries a pull without winch until finally all trucks agree with what Stu had understood immediately. These cars are only coming up by placing a winch truck on top of the hill, running cables and all our tow straps down the mountain across the track onto the cars plus use a Super Duty on the track with another strap to pull sideways and up.

BC car recovered.

Then repositioned the winch truck and #114 is up and out.

Meanwhile Stu has had his bell rung so we put him in E’s Silverado and have “Chief” Dan George drive him out the course and off to the hospital in Ensenada.

Midway through the recovery we get word Dan (George) has buried the Silverado in the middle of the race course. Surely and pavement a joke. But no, “Get stuck, eat tacos” is for real. Oh well, that’s next on the list.

#114 heads down track to the highway to Ojos to get it ready to continuee. Eric will have a 650-mile-drive in front of him on one of the toughest most technical ‘1000’ tracks in a long time. I take Ole Yellar backwards down track (last of race traffic has cleared) to find Dan and Stu. Strap them up and pull them from their stuckage.

Stu in now in the driver’s seat and Dan jumps in with me and we all head to Ojos to held get #114 ready.

Stu is no longer in the mood to go to Ensenada.

Car is readied with minor stuff (tin work pulled from fan, window net tabs straightened, roof sledge hammered so it does not interfere with helmets, top off fluids), prep Eric with sandwiches and fluids for the long haul and him and HSR are off. New fuel plan as the splash team at RM150 can not be expected to still be there after so many hours of no show.”

Melon-sized rocks found in cockpit.

CV issues Saturday morning.
Long day’s journey into night into day …

Finish time: 29:28:14 (14th/22)

DoR Race Report:
• Dusty.
• Dan got stuck.
• Thumb got hurt.

WTF Borrego – Locos

It was craziness: Los Gross Locos Mocos – also a “Baja Pits” station – grilled carne y pollo and had women from San Flippy making tortillas on the spot. The knives flew as the cilantros were minced, the carnes were chopped, the guacamoles whipped, the salas stirred …

Everything was fresh (zero shelf life … cooked => eaten). Like feeding time at the zoo!

• 250 lbs beef
• 100 lbs chicken
• 2,000 tacos served
Ladies were (discovered) selling tamales at Pete’s. They ROCKED the tortilla press. Like eight hours nonstop.
Donations were ‘overwhelming’ … howz that?”

(Note: The four gallons of “Pico Gallo” salsa was HIGHLY insufficient. Extremely bad form.)

WTF #1 – BJ Baldwin
“At RM107 BJ was on Roger Norman’s ass. 200 yards past us BJ came running back on foot and said he needed a truck to pull him out and used a guy’s Cherokee. Apparently when he tried to ‘nudge’ Roger (LR) out of the way he tangled up and went left and got high-centered.

BJ gave the guy a ‘Benjamin’ for pulling him out, and drove backwards toward us to the access road which was blocked by some Chevy Silverado, so he went and bushwhacked around him and roosted Cowboy Bob (Pistol Pete’s dad) as he opened the door and filled the Super Duty with dirt.”

The “Thou” is a non-stop train wreck, but without the injuries.

WTF #13 Clyde
“#13 wanted to bring a ‘truck and trailer’ into the pit with a dry break. ‘Sure, we have room.’ Then we look up and a Kenworth bobtail comes in dragging a 30-foot trailer. We were thinking a Super Duty with a car hauler.

They said ‘We want to change both rear tires, Where’s your jack?’

They had 70 feet of truck and trailer and no jack???

They stayed for the second pass-through for a four-tire change.”

WTF – Borrego “5 Miles Out”
“Being close to the road, we had dozens of teams stop in to ‘help’ with their pit stop. When asked, everyone stated their car was ‘five miles out’.

We stopped asking.”

WTF from Checkers Matomi
“Fart! You gotta bring these a##*^@s up again!!!!!

OK, caught my breath.

We — III, Mike, and myself — that I remember — running across track to help them fix their truck after the co-driver rolled it because the driver got out to wipe his ass or some shit like that.

I’m on my knees spotting how far one of his guys needs to tap the shock down and another guy tells me to ‘Get the fart outa way’ … so I did …a little pissed off.

Later … back at the ranch … the truck left and they broke down their pit, came over thanking us for the help and one of the crew guys starts talking about becoming a Checker … yada yada yada … as they pulled out I ran over and put the squeeze on one of them crew guys for a shirt … ended up with a bag of them that I handed out as CV cleaning shirts.“


They said “… make sure Tony T gets a shirt. He doesn’t understand us …”

I got a “veinticuatro” out of that deal!

Bob Yen got one, too.

WTF #2 – Pete Sohren/Pfaff
Lost oil. Two versions: Either rear main seal (PR) or cam plug came out (RDC). What IS “Truth”?

WTF #782
“ … one of their TL “trucks” ran out of gas at RM33 while we were waiting to be pulled out. Chris gave em five gallons. I tried unsuccessfully to raise the Pistol crew on the handheld since the radio in the race truck didn’t work. They had rolled it.”

WTF 2 Wheels
“But I would like to comment that these bikes with five+ riders per team is LAME. They should call it – ‘Buy a Championship Class’.

On RDC, in the Press Releases section, is a story about 102x. They had at least SIX riders. If I’m reading it correctly the ROR only raced the bike from VdT to Llano Colorado.

Are you freekin’ kidding me!?!

The Class 60 winners were STUDS winning that class with four riders. Awesome!”

WTF Review
• “349 passed all in class before K33 and never looked back.
• Greer ‘8’ truck (#807) caused 2+ hour cluster fart crossing a 12″ stream.


• Moss (#300) got tangled with local on highway dropped off into ravine and bent radius arm like a boomerang.
• Rory Kicked Ass.
• Zaiden TT #75 too soft, undersprung, Jason got motion sick in first few miles of race from wallowing around and got out.
• Jerry ‘Burg “thinks” he will get same shock support from Todd that McMillins get (too bad he couldn’t drive fast enough, even if all things were = )
• BFG Borrego Pit marked like crap
• Locos Mocos Tacos … muy bueno
• A local named Pedro kept our fire fueled for a cactus cooler at San Vicente
• Trying to see the racecar (same word when spelled backwards) cross Erendira from SV doesn’t work
• No radio permits needed
• No murders
• No kidnappings
• Jessica McMillin got a ‘12’ car (several time SCORE championship car)
• Andy Won
• Robby Didn’t Win
• Honda Won
• Kawi Didn’t Win”

WTF #201 Bill Erickson & #209 Rat Sult

I drove #209 RM200-420. Kid kept telling me to let off and give the car a break.
“Shut up, kid, this is the ‘Baja 1000’, we’re going to find out right now while we’re in radio range. If it can’t handle this then you can forget a finish.”

He was hard-headed, not real interesting, fulfilling bucket list.
Daughter is following in career and ‘tude: Chiropractor, Miss Hanna Montana, etc.

Rode shotgun in #201 (chase) from RM500 to the end
Rat (Gary) Sult and Drew Keys

At 0400 hours, after forwarding #209 up towards Mike’s, I went in search of the other half of the team (#210). They got to Borrego and were heading to Ensenada.

(They felt we left them on the Salada to rot. I told them it takes a while to drive to them on 30 miles of pavement and 30 miles of dirt. Nobody even had a map, would have helped if they knew where they were. They were at RM143 and they called us to RM160.)

We had an Excursion with a radio, a Tundra with ‘Broke Belt ‘#201 on trailer, and the spare car on road with freezing Drew Keyes driving.

They would not stop; at VT I Rockford-slid at the gas station road and forced them off highway then excitedly told them we are carrying on to finish in twelve hours. They were not to split the assets (Tundra had a bed of full of parts) or take off.

We will carry the baton to the finish.

I wanted Drew and son, Chad, to chase behind Doc (#201) to the finish.

Keys defected at o’dark-thirty after one-hour pep talk from me. His son, Chad, threatened to hit me at end of lecture and I told him (grinning) ‘You’re going to make my “1000” UNFORGETTABLE!’

Dad sayz, “Don’t make me get out of the car.”

I told him if he did it would be to get his kid an ambulance.

The kid cowered. They didn’t swing and got a warm ride back to the hotel.

I then asked if they no longer wanted to be a part of this team, they nodded, ‘Yes’.

I told them to get out of the spare car — we might need the parts — the awaiting Excursion would haul them back to their reality of boring life.

A 4:am boxing match would have been more fun than the rest of my morning …

I got the troops to RM499 and fed them hot oatmeal/cocoa and the morale changed (“The beatings will continue until the morale improves”)

We fixed the clutch and the rest is boring. Doc was doing 25 mph on pavement to the Ensenada arroyo. He was SO tired. Never did say thanks, but that’s not why I was doing it.

They will remember this for the rest of their lives! Prolly don’t ever want to see me again, though.

Big difference in desire/heart, I noticed last weekend. I’ve got too much piss/vinegar, HELP ME.”

“Absolutely no plan, planning, prior experience racing, experience in Baja other than a one week prerun MEGA drama. I had a queer smirk all day Friday; ‘Your lives are about to change and you don’t even know how’,
was how I introduced myself to them Friday @7:AM

Boy, was I right.

I brought maps, ETA calc sheets, freq. list. I was unprepared for their unpreparedness. (Examples: I had warned her and the team: Do not put gear bags down into bed of truck, hold unto helmet, water, back pack with clothing. Photo gal got into one truck, then realizing her camera bag was driving away in another truck. Same thing with the Aussie’s cold weather clothing He was ready for the beach,: thongs, tank top, flat bill. I refrained from the ‘I-told-you-so.’)

After Seve doing it so well, I got to experience how to do it so wrong.

I kept telling them that after the race the drama will fade in the memory (hopefully) and the finish smile is all they will remember

• 201 top speed = 54 MPH
• 209 top speed = 74 MPH


You can’t toss in the towel half-assed, you know?
No leadership?
No racing heart?
Better to wait until next year?
Escapes me.

At least we finished, kinda.”

Both cars, one team (TEIM) (note the “I” in “Team”)
Owner, Ahmon McDonald, sole proprietor

WTF #28 – Aloha Alan Pflueger
… pulled off course just past left turn towards summit.

Pflueger’s truck was parked next to a utility truck, nobody caring for it, looked complete, no apparent body damage.
Truck started up and headed towards the line to get out the one lane to Ejido De La Reforma.

Sounded perfect, no glee club present nor an entourage – two, maybe three, guys getting into trucks nearby, no rush.


“You smell that? Do you smell that? Race gas. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of race gas in the morning. You know, one time we preran Matomi for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked to the Borrego Checkers pit. We didn’t find one dump can, not one stinkin’ can. The smell, you know, that race gas smell, the whole pit. Smelled like – victory.

Someday this test ‘1000’ is gonna end.”

Photos provides by Durka Durka Photo.