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:
It was dark, very dark. But it usually is at 5:15am. This was the hour the first calgary of pits started their parade to Baja. The tractor trailers, packed with tires and goodies, looking like Santa’s Sleighs with all their LED lights glistening peeled out like a race of turtles. :dutdadah-charge!: The second group left at 7am, a third group at 10am and a fourth group at 10:15am, luckily they didn’t leave me on the highway onramp! For your viewing pleasure of this parade, I have sped up the video to 200x!
Today, Monday November 13, 2017, the pits are on the move. The semis and trucks with trailers headed to the Pilot to top off with diesel and generator fuel and then headed to the commercial side of the border crossing. Sometimes these crossings take hours, but with BFGoodrich Tires and Jackson Motorsports Group’s relationship with the government and border officials, there are personnel schedules and waiting, knowing that the trucks are coming. All the trucks made it across the border.
The first group of trucks that left at 5:15am are the southern group. They are headed far south to BFG Pit 6, 7 and 8. With two days of driving ahead, they were waiting at the commercial border when it opened. The second group of trucks and trailers are considered the northern group. For today, they only had to make it to Ensenada and will continue the trip to their intended pit location either tomorrow or Wednesday.
Then there are the people. Luckily a lot of people conveniently fit into white passenger vans or consider how long that parade would have been! The rest of the pit teams drove their personal vehicles or RVs that will help host the staff at the pits. As we arrived at the border, we went inside to get our Tourista paperwork stamped. The line was long, but luckily we all knew each other and were sporting the BFGoodrich Tires apparel. It was honestly pretty impressive.
As we crossed the border the white vans caught the attention of the officials and they were pulled into a quick secondary. As the tailgunner, by the time we crossed the border, only the RVs were left to be inspected. It was an easy drive to Ensenada.
Fuel Is Also Moving Today
While the trucks, tires, tools and people are on the move, so is the fuel. 45,000 gallons of fuel will be delivered between the 8 pits! Should we stop right here and do some simple math? The lowest fuel purchase price is $8.75 and the highest octane is $15.86, plus each gallon has a $2/gallon surcharge to be delivered to the BFG Pits. Let’s go for an average of $11/gallon + $2/gal delivery = $13 x 45,000 = $585,000 dollars which are being spent on just the teams that are being fueled by BFG!!! Over half a million dollars! Desert racing is an economy, and Baja knows this.
Of course, all that fuel was imported from the United States with planning in place since mid-summer. The permits to carry fuel are pulled during the summer. With an anticipated number of fuel gallons based on last years car counts the fuel is ordered in September and delivered to Long Beach. Importing to Baja starts in October as teams get ready to pre-run. The deliveries of 90-100, 55 gallon drums continue regularly up until tomorrow which is the anticipated final load.
It is illegal for teams to carry fuel across the border, so there are only two ways to fuel up while in Baja. Pemex or a local gas station (which maybe gas out of a 5 gallon jerry can!), or though the pre-purchase from one of three companies: Sunoco, Amber Racing or F&L. The three fuel companies that supply the BFG Pits have the permits so they are able to move the massive amount of fuel to destinations of the teams choice – in BFG’s case to a pit in the middle of the desert.
A note from the fuel companies that I think is worth mentioning: If you break your car and you have fuel farther down the race course, you need to go get it, or consider it paid and gone. This is a common misperception among the drivers that if you don’t use it, you don’t have to pay for it. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. You own it and pay for it either way. Make sure your pit captain knows this information.
Engineers Love Racing Too
Have you thought about what goes into a tire? The technology that goes into those big black round things that are the only part of your vehicle touching the ground? Where does the technology come from that is answering a need to keep you safe?
BFGoodrich Tires is so dedicated to continual improvement that they have been sending engineers to the races for decades. We all know that Baja is the ultimate proving grounds with all types of terrain, high horsepower and fast wheel speeds. This race is a very effective demonstration of what tires can handle.
The question is, what are these guys really up to? There are actually a few answers.
First, they are helping racers answer any questions that they have including the most complex conversation about what air pressure to be running. Or, maybe, teams are looking for more traction so they can offer up unique grooving patterns.
Second, they are asking and answering the question: “What can we do better?” Sometimes that has to do with the tire and sometimes it has to do with the evolution of the vehicle. Being on the ground to see the changes on the vehicles that could directly impact the wear and performance of the tire.
Third, they are at the finish line looking at how the product performed and logging the tires into a spreadsheet. They are focused on how the tread wore down, how the sidewalls looked and they take time to discuss with the driver how they were working in the different conditions.
Fourth, there can be weird failures that the engineering team wants to see and test the tire in the office themselves. If this happens, they will offer the racer the opportunity to send it in for review. Selfishly, this group of engineers is always looking to make the products better.
Did you know that the BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain KO2 Tire has the same sidewall construction and strength as the race tires? Yes, look on the sidewall of your tire – guaranteed it will say Baja Champion. The testing came from Baja!
As we hit Ensenada, we keyed up BFGMAIN and let our caravan leader know we were peeling off. For the next two days our focus is going to change to the ladies racing, contingency and all the parties centered around the 2017 SCORE 50th Baja 1000. We will see them all again sometime between Thursday and Saturday – It’s almost race day!
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.