Team Honda Racing Ridgeline Is The 2018 Baja 500 Champion
Ensenada, Baja California MexicoThe 50th Anniversary of the SCORE Baja 500 will stand out as a remarkable off road race not easily forgotten. For the racers it will be known as the toughest and most grueling course in recent memory. Team Honda RacingRidgeline driver, Jeff Proctor won the Class 7 Unlimited division finishing nearly two hours ahead of the 2nd place finisher to be crowned the 2018 Baja 500 Champion.
Off road desert racing is the proving ground where man and machine are put to the test. It was no different for the 50th Golden Anniversary, if not even more of a challenge. The Baja 500 featured a record long 542 miles of pure punishment and plenty of opportunity to surpass the vehicle limits. “This was one of the toughest and most challenging Baja 500 course we have ever raced” Jeff Proctor admitted.
Jeff Proctor started and drove the #709 Honda Racing HPD Ridgeline to race mile 270. Pat Daily drove to the finish completing the race course with a total time of 14 Hours, 36 Minutes, and 46 Seconds with an average speed of 37.10 Miles Per Hour. 2nd place finisher, Dan Chamlee (5x Baja 500 Champion) required over 16 Hours to complete the course.
The Baja desert is the great equalizer and equipment failures are the #1 factor determining race results. When the race course officially closed, only 187 of 321 starters (58.26 percent) completed the Baja 500 race course. The course ran through Northern Baja California starting in Ensenada Arroyo and worked inland towards the rolling hills of Ojos Negros and down the treacherous Goat Trail into the scenic Valle de Trinidad. Once hitting the desert floor of the El Diablo Dry Lake bed the racers hit triple digit speeds before climbing their way back up towards the rough and rocky roads of Mike’s Sky Rancho. The course led racers through the farm roads of Rancho El Coyote and Rancho Meling before heading west towards the coast. Camalu, Colonet, and along the weathered beach of Erendira was the route back into Ensenada.
Starting 4th off the line in Class 7 Unlimited, Driver; Jeff Proctor and Navigator; Even Weller, right from the get-go, encountered blinding dust from competing racers ahead. This early section of the course is very tight cornering and steep canyon walls. It would be easy to make a mistake and take yourself out of contention. Jeff determined the best strategy would be to drive conservatively and patient while holding position, then to finally pass the slower traffic in clean open air. This patience paid off as soon as they approached the rolling jumps in Ojos Negros. Proctor pushed the Honda Ridgeline and overtook 3 positions to assume the lead physically by race mile 55.
Proctor and Weller encountered a bottleneck around race mile 70 in some deep silt with multiple stuck vehicles. “Once the dust began to settle, it looked like a grave yard of stuck vehicles” said Navigator Evan Weller. Fortunately, the pair was able to pick their way through thick brush and navigate a sand wash around the issue only costing them about 4-5 minutes. Now that they were able to find clear air, Proctor was focused on running a conservative pace while also trying to gap the field that may have been stuck behind them.
At the near half way point of race mile 270, Team Honda planned a scheduled pit stop for a full fuel dump, fresh rear KMC Wheels / General Tires, and a driver change. After the well-executed and flawless pit stop, Driver; Patrick Dailey and Navigator; Billy Baroody took over heading for Mike’s Sky Ranch and onwards to the coast with a 21 minute lead over second place.
As the sun began to set over Baja, Pat and Billy turned on the KC HiLites and continued to extend the lead. The Honda Ridgeline equipped with FOX shocks and Eibach Springs, raced through the rugged twists and turns of Baja running at maximum performance thanks to NEO Synthetic Oil and AEM Air Filters towards Ensenada. Over 540 miles and a little over 14 hours later, The Honda Ridgeline proved to be tough enough to take the checkered flag for a 1st place victory celebration. This is the second Baja 500 win for the Honda Ridgeline in three years and third straight podium finish: 2016 – 1st, 2017 – 3rd, 2018 – 1st.
“It’s difficult to describe my feelings about what it means to win this race. I am so proud of our entire team! We couldn’t race at this level without the commitment and continued support of our partners and crew! Thanks to Honda Racing / HPD, General Tire, FOX, KC Hilites, KMC Wheels, Sparco, Eibach Springs, NEO Synthetic Oil, RPI Racing, PCI Race Radios, AEM Air Filters, Pro Eagle, JE REEL Driveline and STEEL-IT Coatings,” said Jeff Proctor.
For all the latest on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.
Photography By: Bink Designs
About Jeff Proctor / Honda Off Road
Jeff Proctor grew up surfing in Southern California and like most American kids played traditional stick and ball sports as well. The allure of racing was sparked from his competitive nature, but it wasn’t until starting his first business, an action sports clothing brand in his college dorm room, that Proctor was able to buy his first motocross bike and begin his lifelong journey in off-road racing.
Today, Jeff has embarked on his most ambitious chapter of his race career – Partnering with American Honda on a Honda Performance Development (HPD) – Powered Factory Off-Road Racing Initiative. Jeff will not only pilot a custom Honda unlimited Twin Turbo off-road race vehicle but also direct and oversee the team’s entire race operation. Jeff will lead his team and Honda to the podium, bringing more high-level race teams to the exciting sport of off-road racing.
Visit // www.hondaoff-road.com
About Honda Performance Development, Inc.
(HPD) is Honda’s racing company in North America and is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Founded in 1993, HPD is the technical operations center for Honda’s high-performance racing programs. HPD specializes in the design and development of race engines, chassis and performance parts, and technical/race support. We are proud to also offer parts and race support to Honda and Acura grassroots motorsports racers, and are expanding our support of racing series and programs that make Honda racing products available to all racing styles, from karting and Quarter Midgets to the highest levels of pro racing.
Visit // www.hpd.honda.com
About Bink Designs
Bink Designs is a premier graphic design company located in San Diego, CA. Since 2007, Bink Designs has been committed to providing cost-effective solutions for clients’ high-end graphic needs. Bink Designs will work with you to develop a strategy that matches your goals. Bink Designs offers a number of services, including: Identity, Print Design, Vinyl Graphics, Web Design, Photography & Apparel.
Visit // www.binkdesigns.com