Ensenada, Baja California
Shaffer Motorsports was optimistic heading into the Baja 500. Their win in San Felipe had them just six points out of the championship points lead and both the Transfer Case Express, Torchmate racecar and the team were working better than ever. The race started off on a bad note when without warning, the gps acted up, it was unable to locate any satellites. It took until mile 89 for the gps to function and to add to the mix their race radio was not receiving. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the crew could hear them but they could not get a response.
Despite the electronic bug-a-boos they were making good time and got out to an early lead which they held until race mile 130 where they stopped briefly to let the car cool down before heading into some particularly nasty silt and sand sections. The second place car went by but they quickly caught and passed them back by mile 140. They hauled the mail until their next pit in Borrego where Mike handed the car off to Shawn Twitchell.
Shawn left the pit with a 5 minute lead but at mile 251 disaster struck; something broke in the transmission locking the wheels and killing the engine anytime the clutch was let out. “I was worried about second gear,” said Mike Shaffer, “We spent a long time hammering in the whoops in second gear and we’ve had problems with it in the past. It’s never failed in a race but we broke it in hard testing before. We already had a fix for it in the works but the new transmission just wasn’t ready in time for this race.”
That’s the nature of racing, one minute you are up and then lady luck turns around and bites you. Despite the mechanical issue the team did an outstanding job thanks to the volunteer efforts of Hugo, Chris, Art, Randall, John, Hunter and Ian. This was also the first time Mike’s wife Melanie ran the stateside communications and despite her trepidation did a “killer job” according to Mike.
The teams early retirement most likely took them out of championship contention but with nothing to lose they are free to go all out for the win at the Baja 1000. The team will get the new transmission in the car and then spend some time in Barstow testing its limits and getting the car sorted out before the 1000. Off-road racing continuously tests the limits of your abilities as well as your patience at times but it only makes the good teams stronger such as the case with Shaffer Motorsports. They will just be even more determined when they line up for the legendary Baja 1000 on November 14th in Ensenada, Mexico.
Photography By Brian Binkert
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About Shaffer Motorsports
Mike Shaffer / Driver & Crew Chief
Mike Shaffer has been racing for 28 years, starting with BMX and then age 16 in drag racing and his first desert race was fifteen years ago. Shaffer was driver of record for the 2011 SCORE Tecate BAJA 1000, finishing 2nd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 4. Shaffer was also driver of record for 2011 BITD Championship, finishing 3rd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 10. Shaffer was also driver of record for 3 Baja 1000 wins, 3 SCORE Championships and one BITD Championship in Class 1700, along with rock crawling National Championship and ARCA Championship. Mike Shaffer is the owner of Shaffer’s Offroad that helps customers build the vehicle of their choice, from bolt on accessories to custom one off vehicles.
Shawn Twitchell / Driver & Team Manager
Shawn Twitchell started desert racing motorcycles in 1972, went to drag racing in the 1980′s, circle track in the 1990′s and is now back in the desert driving with Shaffer-Motorsports. Twitchell was a driver in the 2011 SCORE Tecate BAJA 1000, finishing 2nd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 4. Twirchell was also driver for 2011 BITD Championship, finishing 3rd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 10. He has been a member of Shaffer-motorsports team since 2008 helping win three SCORE 1700 Championships. Twitchell is the Business Unit Manager for FMC Technologies’ Technisys Group. Desert racing is in their family encompassing four generations including his son Ian, who will co-drive for Shawn. Two of seven grand-kids are already earning their stripes in the pits and at the shop.
Daniel Aeberli / Driver
Daniel Aeberli has raced with the Shaffer-motorsport team since 2010. He was a driver in the 2011 SCORE Tecate BAJA 1000, finishing 2nd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 4. Aeberli was also driver for 2011 BITD Championship finishing, 3rd in class for the team’s first participation in Class 10. He also drove the first section of the 2010 SCORE Baja 1000. Aeberli was with the team in 2010, helping them win SCORE Primm and Class championship in Class 1700. Daniel Aeberli is the CTO of MediTron S.A. a Swiss medical distribution company that he co-founded over 20 years ago in Switzerland and President of M.D. Visuals a medical consulting company in Stateline, Nevada.
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