Did your mama teach you to NEVER GIVE UP?
What breeds a desert racer? I guess we all know that who ever spawned them provided a gene that mandates a never give up attitude. They must posses the ability to dig deep when the going gets rough and they have to be part Mac Gyver. I would argue they are borderline insane! Very few things are more brutal on an individual than entering a SCORE-INTERNATIONAL Baja 500 to battle against good old Mother Nature for 438 miles while trying to maintain your equipment and keep your wheels on your rig. Add in the radiating afternoon heat you may be stranded in anywhere along the course while in seek of a black and white flag. I am reassured the people who help out the racers are just as insane as the guys in search of that checkered flag. So many racers only see the green one. What happens to the rest of them?
The Locos Mocos/Baja Pits #3 support crew was dispatched to race mile 128 for this year’s event. We are very familiar with the route and location at the base of the infamous summit. With heat in the triple digits (138 degrees at 1pm on the ground) and the dust a major factor at this event, the crew packed extra water and shade to man a 60 bike fuel station. The pit was also scheduled to assist 40 cars/trucks and was also capable of performing full service race repairs.
The LOCOS MOCOS trailer was packed complete with a tent city and was in tow behind Baja Jones. Pauliana & Bethel manned a fuel transport rig. Taco Dave helped run pit support in Yerington the week before and somehow was in Baja….. On Wednesday a Wanderer we named Shilaly driving a TOTAL CHAOS equipped FJ stopped into southern California and somehow joined this band wagon with his lax schedule at hand. Grasshopper celebrated his high school graduation and had to bail from his graduation party at 9:00 pm. The Baja OJ Bronco headed south with Val, Grasshopper and Remo fueled on Monsters. Patio somehow twisted my arm and hog tied me to travel to meet the remaining crew off the highway. There was Tiny with first time co dog Slick, Raptor Billy & Papa John. In a weird twist of HWY 5 fate, we bumped in Farmboy & Pro Pit Pat and told them about our pit location. On race day they kindly volunteered to tow a quad racer to his chase crew after a blown motor then continued on out to our remote pit to offer some welcomed assistance. When we arrived at saldaña, there was the crazy Mexicali crew of Alex, Cooler Handle, Capt. Mazda and his brother Julio waiting in the desert. Fully staffed, we rocked the pit from sun up till nearly sun up! Jones fixed a feast and opted to use the smoker for some of the best pork & tri tip sandwiches a desert racer can eat.
When you are set up early in a race you see the main guys having a flawless first 128 miles. But in reality, they are only 1/3 of the way. As the afternoon approached the radio chatter from Weatherman Bob and the limping vehicles were proof of how rough the race course this year proved to be. Blown transmissions plagued several top placing teams and flat tires did not discriminate by brands. The course was triple digit hot; the racers were tackling Baja after a season of severe rain. After the summit and the smoldering desert they had to conquer Mike’s Sky Ranch and its nasty rock sections and single track lanes. The opportunity to participate in this event either as a racer, chaser or spectator keeps these races alive and packed with entries. I know our two pit rookies will be back for the Baja 1000 if schedules permit. If you cut them now, they bleed Baja! It runs through your veins.
The TEAM LOCOS MOCOS list of race day repairs and rescues was impressive! The Baja Pits #3 location performed the following: we reinstalled a lower front shock bolt on quad #54A, #278X took a break and we fixed a flat and replaced a front tube on the bike, #449X pulled in and consumed his road kit, multiple spare tire swaps on racer cars #’s 107, 1202, 604, 1600, mandatory fuel stops on 40+ bikes & quads, a fuel pump swap on # 500, a complete suspension refab was performed on #67 at 20:15 hours, temporary food and housing for racers # 251X & 51A, recovery & transport back to states of bike # 304X (the rider was air lifted at mm 110 and sustained compound fractures in his crash), we manned a micro pit at mile marker 129.5 @ 18:00 and transported a generator & disc cutter to replace 4 wheel studs on car #106, meanwhile a thrown VW pulley belt was fixed on #574 at the same time. Spare wheel studs are very small to pack. I suggest everyone have a few spares in the pit box, especially in Mexico! More people than you think have had their tires pass them from loose lug nuts. They could save a race or prerun adventure for sure.
The first bike finished in 8 hours and 47 minutes….they hauled the mail! While the trophy trucks took 9 hours and 15 minutes to pluck every mile off the 438 mile course. Unless you have experienced the remote side of a Baja race you’ll never clearly understand the spooky side of racing down south of the border. You can sit on the side of the course for hours without any communication with team members. You can damage a part somewhere so remote you have to wait 10 hours until its clear to send in recovery vehicles on the course. Or you can be lucky enough to get stranded with TEAM LOCOS MOCOS in the middle of nowhere. Where you have a complete tent city equipped with a full service cooking station serving 5 star food and the ability to communicate via race radio or by satellite phone to any member of your chase crew if needed. For those not so lucky to spend an afternoon in our pit, I hope you saw the checkered flag! And if you didn’t, I hope you got the Baja bug and decide to race the Baja 1000. We’ll see you ¾ of the way down the peninsula at another remote location pit.
Story by N-Chaos
Photos by Remo Sagastume, N-Chaos, Scott Massangil & Paul Nauleau