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 from the Finish Line:
Pit 8 Action
“The last pit of the race is always the slowest. Between the gaps among the racers and the attrition rate, the activity isn’t as fast and furious as some,” said Lynn Dickton. New to pitting, Jim Cluck had been wanting to participate. “I had an idea of what the BFG pits were, but to actually be able to experience it and haul fuel cans for 30 hours has been literally busting my backside. Do I want to come back? OH YEAH!”
Several vehicles came through while we were there, but none of them needed much more help than fuel.
Karl Funk in the 700 car has been here pre-running for the last two weeks with Dan Chamlee and crew. He has never raced before, so several days ago when Dan asked him if he would ride with him in the last leg of the 50th Baja 1000, he jumped at the chance. “I’m so excited!”, said Funk. “This is going to be great.” Right about that time Chamlee leaned over with a smirk on his face and said, “I’ll just turn him off if he squeals like a girl,” pointing to the intercom switch.
What we really didn’t expect to see was a quad or motorcycle this late into the night. 45A quad had 6 riders. They lost all the rear suspension, and replaced the broken front A-arm. Knowing midnight is their cutoff they continued on with a quick fuel up and fresh air filter.
Wrapping it Down
About 1500 gallons of fuel was delivered to Pit 8; only about 650 has been used. There were several cars and trucks that came through that had not signed up for BFG Pits. Their support crew wasn’t there, so the BGF crew wrote down their name, filled them up, and then wrote down how many gallons were used so that the monetary end could be settled after the race.
Dinner was in clean-up mode when we got there, but hamburgers and hot dogs were still being cooked for snacks throughout the night. There was a full complement of toppings that adorned the table. Some clean up had already begun as ice chest contents were being consolidated and food packed away into neatly labeled ziploc bags.
What happens when it is time to close up the pits? Great question, and the answer has multiple parts:
Fuel: Remembering that no one can haul fuel except for the fuel companies, Sunoco will be by to pick up the containers and extra fuel from each pit. The pit boss is responsible for correctly accounting for the fuel that was used per vehicle and therefore knowing what is to be sent back.
Tires: We start paying attention early to the drivers that are out of the race and pull their tires aside to start loading. As drivers come in to do a tire change with damaged wheels or blown out tires, we label and stack the returns to start loading out of the way. All tires and wheels get returned to the teams at the post-pit exchange.
Property: After everything is put away, we do a clean sweep of the property. We always leave the area cleaner than it came. It never fails that during the week a local will come up and want the outhouse. We commit to giving it to them, once we leave. There are BFG outhouses all over Baja still being used today!
Tearing Down: When it is time to start tearing down we will always keep one lane open to help people. The goal is to put everything away correctly. The crew is beat after being up for 30+ hours, so we go slow and make sure everything gets put away as clean and organized as possible. Usually, when we are doing our final loading we are watching the sun come up.
When: This year, Pit 8, the final pit of the 50th SCORE Baja 1000, will close at 6am Saturday morning. As we get close to this close time, we start monitoring our final guests that will need help. They track down the car, see what the status is, anticipate when they will be at the pit and then if they don’t get there by that time, they put out another status check. A BFGoodrich Pit will stay open until they come in. No one gets left behind.
The team that makes up Pit 8 are Clark Coplan, Dale Looney, Frank Alarid, Frankie Broughman (CDL), Garn Crossman, George Crossman, Jedi Fuller, Jesse Whinery, Jim Cluck, Joe Ignacio, Lynn Dickton, Pat Moore, Randy Wilson, Ricky Lievas (EMT), Sharon Moore, Sherida Burns, and Tom Moore.
Tacos Al Pastor style. Can you believe that we have been in Baja for almost a week and we haven’t had tacos?!?! Crazy, right! Ok, so we changed that tonight. We were having a low blood sugar moment, and it was time to take in some fuel. After we really fueled up the Jeep, we were ready to fuel up ourselves. This was Megan’s first experience with such an interesting option, she loved them.
Our run out to Pit 8 was short again. Megan had done most of the research while we were at Pit 7, so we got into a two person system. I should have started this program at the beginning. Maybe my brain wouldn’t be as fried as it is right now.
Again, given all the elements that could go wrong, I think our team did an exceptional job. We aren’t at the hotel in La Paz yet, but I have to give a ton of credit to Rich Klein for keeping us safe and sound as our driver and body guard. He took great care of both of us and responsibly got us down the very tough and narrow roads of Baja.
I won. We have been joking about how Megan was a “contest winner” to come down and help me. I warned her on the amount of work that this week would entail. Words don’t do any justice to her actions. Megan was absolutely the perfect pick for our Ladies Offroad Challenge Baja 1000 event. She effectively helped us keep the content at the level I demand and we had a lot of fun doing it. There may be no trophies for when we get to the finish line, but WE won.
Next Stop: Finish Line and a SHOWER! :)
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.