Preference: Charlene Bower and Ladies Offroad Challenge winner Megan Stevenson will be reporting live from the 50th Anniversary of the Baja 1000 as they expose the complexity of the BFGoodrich Tires Pit Support Program, highlight all the ladies racing and of course talk racing! This article is by Charlene Bower at Pit 7:
Pit 6 Action
It was quiet. The storm had passed Pit 6 by the time we got there. Now came the back of the pack that are still determined to finish. I won’t lie, I cheered as I saw Kristin Matlock drive by at a good pace, still moving for her IronWoman finishing title.
Eric Armstrong and Jim #8001 are driving the CJ5 built by Gordon Scott who had always wanted to run the Baja 1000 and planned on running this race together as a team. Unfortunately, Gordon passed away from spinal cancer 2 weeks ago. This is Eric’s first time to Baja and driving with a total of 5 drivers and co-drivers over the total race.
1970 UTV Laird Hamilton and Paul Hodge have been in the UTV for 26 hours switching between driver and co-driver. They are the owners of Laird Superfood who produce quality foods and hydration. Paul said, “I can go a couple more days.” Laird laughed, “We might have to!” They stopped and got out because the front end was giving them problems. The BFGoodrich Pits measured it up and decided to do a toe adjustment. “I just can’t believe these BFG UTV tires can take what they can take,” said Laird.
Food to Feed a Pit
All food for pit 6 is taken care of by Joe Bryant. Having to plan 2-3 meals a day for 16 people seems like it would be quite the undertaking, but not for Joe. His mom owned a catering company, so buying, prepping, and cooking food for that many people comes naturally to him. He lives in South Carolina and flies in to volunteer for the Baja 1000 every year.
Once he flies in he will go shopping for all the food and paper products. “We buy a TON of ziplocks. All the cold food goes in ziplocks so it can be packed on ice easier,” said Bryant. All the other necessary equipment (crock pot, flat top grill, spatula, tongs, etc) all stay with the truck. All the food and drinks get packed into ice chests and all the ice chests get labeled.
About a month before he leaves he gets the budget, number of people who will be in the pit, how many meals he needs to plan for, and how many days from pit boss Scott Alvarez. From the time he gets the information it takes him about 3 weeks to make up a shopping list and a meal plan. “When I’m planning things I try not to repeat meals,” said Bryant. “I will cook pasta for the long nights though. It keeps everyone going.” The crew said their favorites are his grilled chicken and pork chops.
Pit 6 crew is composed of Alvaro Rodriguez, Blake Monk, Brian Beeman, Casey Meredith, Chris Alvarez (EMT), Dave Daisher, Dean Orozco, Frank Kusenback, Jesus Arce Arce, Joe Bryant, Jonathan Gibbons, Josh Whinery, Ricky White, Sam Van Ness, Sara DiFede and Scott Alvarez (Team Leader).
61 tires were brought down and right now, that is the approximate number they are taking back. That may not make sense, it didn’t to me at first. Of course, if they take off a tire, they are going to put the old in a pile to take back to the pit exchange for them. Yes, there is another pit exchange where drivers get all their tires, fuel cans and parts back!
1900 Gallons of fuel was dropped off at Pit 6. There were 7 different types of fuel and guessing there are still about 600 gallons of fuel left. Casey Meredith said, “This is my fourth year volunteering at the Baja 1000 and the most fuel I have had to deal with for a single race. Because there are limited dump cans, and because some people brought their dump cans and some didn’t, I had to prioritize the dump cans in a state of constant shuffling to make sure fuel was ready for those coming into the pit.”
Unfortunately, not every pit is as safe as others. The locals around the area would come by the pit and try to steal things, anything, including goodies off of their outhouse. On a different note, the policia in town needed his tire filled up about 6 times. In trade, BFG kept filling his tire and was eventually able to fix it and the policia kept shooing off the hellions. It’s Baja.
We left Pit 5 just after sunrise in San Ignacio and rolled through Santa Rosilia for fuel. We found the oasis of Mulege, came through Loretto, was able to see some of the race from the highway, and made the long trek from there to Ciudad Insurgentes where we turned right and went toward La Purisma for Pit 6. It took us exactly 6 hours. A lot of Baja’s roads have been updated, but the final stretch has not been, a very primitive road with lots of surprises for the driver!
We drove through some absolutely beautiful country side – inland roads that wound their way through canyons and mountains that could rival the Grand Canyon, a desert landscape that gave way to a small town tucked into a lush oasis, and clear blue-green ocean water lapping against rocky shores made a stark contrast against the brownish-beige mountains adorned with varying colors of scrub brush and cacti. It was breathtaking.
We have fueled up about 8 times since being in Ensenada. One of the biggest keys to being down here, especially on a race weekend, is to never pass gas. At no point have we put in a full tank of gas, usually it is always a top off of a half tank to eliminate any possibility of problems. Fuel shortages do happen often, especially on race weekends.
Let’s think, if there are 415 teams entered, there are probably over 1000 chase vehicles down here. The roads are busy, but the traffic moves until the locals get involved. Then, if you want to take it a step farther, every chase vehicle has at least 2 to 4 people in it. We are three. My new word for the week is Tri-Pod: a team of three that hold each other up and rotate to make sure everyone is successful. Our team has been a VERY effective Tri-Pod. We aren’t done yet . . . 2 more pits and the finish line!
Charlene Bower is the owner of Bower Motorsports Media since 2008, Ladies Offroad Network and Offroad Marketing School among other projects. Bower is a Performance Team Member for BFGoodrich Tires in addition to other honors and certifications. She has been working in the offroad industry for 23 years and has recently focused all her attention on supporting the ladies who love offroading. For the 50th SCORE Baja 1000, Charlene ran the 2nd Annual Ladies Offroad Challenge where anyone from across the country could enter to be her media assistant or participate in two other events. Megan Stevenson from CA earned the opportunity and is helping in the execution of this exciting project in coordination with BFGoodrich Tires.