Over 60 American dirt bikers, one charming Spaniard and a crew of 15 just returned from a 4 day odyssey on the Northern Baja coastline to “give back” to the community in a gesture of gratitude and sincerity. For the children of Rancho Santa Marta Orphanage in San Vicente, every one of the BAJA BEACH BASH riders is a hero just for showing up to say hi. Behind the scenes though, the relatively huge cash donation is a well needed lifeline to getting these kids prepared for secondary school as they reach their later teen years.
Every July for the past five years, the BBB crew rides through the gates of San Vicente’s Rancho Santa Marta Orphanage to deliver generous donations of cash and essentials, not to mention the biggest prizes of all: smiles on all faces of the many children who call Santa Marta their home. This years gift: $32,020.00 USD.
The brainchild of Johnny Campbell, Cameron Steele and Tim Morton, the BAJA BEACH BASH was designed to share the BAJA magic with off roaders looking to make a difference for the kids while having the times of their lives competing in special contests and ripping through some of the more remote and less traveled single track trails hidden in the shadows of the BAJA 1000 course. Mission accomplished.
It’s a scene to behold to see a pack of 60 dusty dirt bikers crossing mountains, valleys, beaches and canyons to reach the orphanage for the ‘big day’ and according to RSM directors Bill and Kay Laurence, “It’s a day the kids look forward to each year.” We learn that it’s the smallest things that some of us might take for granted that lead to the biggest boost for these lucky kids. Many of the children of RSM were previously neglected, abandoned or in some cases rescued from uninhabitable circumstances.
Among those in attendance this year: AMA hero Destry Abbott, Baja Champ and DAKAR vet Quinn Cody, NORRA Champion Justin Morgan and the ever-versatile Chilly White, fresh off his Red Bull Romaniacs finish.
“We love the Baja and especially love to share her many secrets with fresh fish”, explained BBB co-founder Cameron Steele at the presentation ceremony Friday, “But there’s nothing better than putting smiles on faces of these kids.” The Steel family’s relationship with RSM spans more than 2 decades and Cameron’s addiction to helping the orphanage has manifested into huge donations. This year, through months of effort, he rounded up more than $32,000.00 in cash donations and matching funds to directly from sponsors and donors. Among the most generous are Bullet Proof Diesel’s Ken Neal and Jesse Jones.
Among the several unique features of the BBB besides the custom trails are the daily special tests:
The Circle Race takes place on the beach around 50’ diameter sandy circuit where 4-6 riders start in staggered positions from a dead start. Each rider who is passed is eliminated until there is only one. In the final, it came down to Destry Abbott versus Johnny Campbell and, after and excruciating battle Abbott held his first ever BAJA title.
The “Foot Down” competition is a trials type contest where riders must stay on their foot pegs while riding in a virtual mosh-pit confined within an 80’ square corral. When riders touch the ground, they are eliminated and become stone statues, creating an obstacle course for the remaining entrants. It ends up becoming a medieval joist-fest as the best riders balance themselves while trying to force opponents to “foot down”. Again Destry Abbott fought hard but it was Quinn Cody who owned the corral in the end.
Then there is the big one: The hill climb title is a multi-day progressive elimination where, each day Cameron and Johnny pick a steep hill to climb. Call it the “Widow Maker” of Baja, with the climbs getting harder each day until the final. This year was crazy and it came down to the final 4: Johnny, Quinn, Chilly and World Trials Champ & X-Games gold medalist Laia Sanz.
The BASH crew rode out to a dry waterfall formerly known as Chilly’s Challenge from the first BBB in 2009. It’s hardly ridable going down and seemingly impossible going up. The final 4 played “rock, paper scissors” to determine the running order while the BASH crew took their spots lining the walls of the narrow canyon. Up first was Quinn who made it up the 18’ waterfall on the first go and then pig dogged his 310 up the unstable hill climb, spewing rock and dust onto the gallery. After five minutes he reached his mark.
Next was Laia, who owns handfuls of World Trials Championships, 3 DAKAR finishes and X-Gold. Her trials experience showed as she surveyed and previewed the climb beforehand, which is customary in her primary discipline. This paid off as she “swooped up” the solid rock face to the sound of the screaming gallery before lining up her borrowed ROCK STAR ENERGY JCR CRF 450x for a final climb towards Quinn’s marker. She did it with over a minute to spare, thus schooling over 50 “boys” and staking claim to the newly dubbed hill-climb known as “La Conquistadora”, according to Enduro 360’s Chilly White, who wisely conceded after Johnny faltered on his attempt.
When she flew to California last week to attend the ESPY’s, Spain’s Laia Sanz had no idea she would take a constellation prize and venture south to discover and literally conquer Baja’s pristine coastline. So much for the “glass ceiling” and the gender gap as “La Conquistadora” Sanz broke through the altitude barrier to win the seemingly impossible hill climb final. Video can’t do this scene justice, as only those 50 in attendance will attest: you had to be there. It all culminated in a secluded canyon only 200 meters away from the typical BAJA racecourse.
The big picture for this new “Queen of the Bash” is that she didn’t win the popularity contest known as the ESPYS, so she went straight to the border to taste the BAJA magic and actually earn the title, which she may in fact hold more personally dear. She will stay in California training for Enduro-X with Johnny Campbell Racing for whom she will represent in August. The charming Spaniard made a touching acceptance speech after the final and finished by saying, “It was very special for me to share these moments with all of you.” Needless to say, she just picked up at least 75 new loyal fans.
Bullet Proof Diesel
$5,000.00 – 2 contributors
Jones Motorsports #76 – Yokohama Tire Corporation
$2,000.00 – 2 contributors
Wilson Motorsports-COPS Racing
$1,000.00 – 4 contributors
Robert Murray/Murray Family – Kryptonite Industries
Corona Motohome Rental – Anonymous
$500.00 – 5 contributors
Baja Bound Insurance – Dan’s Motorsports outlet
Parkhouse Motorsports – King of the Motos-SonicPool Post Production
Up to $499.00 – 3 contributors
Blue C – Mitch Martinez – Leatt
Media partner Race-dezert.com – T-Shirts Metal Mulisha
Welcome lunch Bajatested.com – Trail assistance The Baja Rally
RSM Lunch Sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink
Catering services Horse Power Ranch – Legal expert Oscar Ramos
Photos by Ernesto Araiza