Dear friends, partners and sponsors,
Here’s a little story that I love. It might happen like this at the Baja 500, or at every SCORE race. As great news we have Andreas Aigner, the reigning Production Car World Rally Champion, onboard our team. Andreas teams up with Armin Kremer, and I share the second AGM Buggy with my friend and team boss Martin Christensen. But first, have fun reading this!
Maria has done this job for many years. Without computer but with lots of fervour. In front of her is a thick file. In the file she sees whether team boss Joe has paid the entry fee for the Baja 500. He has. Bueno, then he can compete. So he pushes his desert monster to the technical inspection. In 20 years of the Baja, the gentlemen there have never seen anything like Joe’s ideas. “Hey Joe, what have you got there?”
Joe explains that he’s got a new idea for the shocks and with the weight distribution and, well, with the entire frame. “Aha,” says Carlos, as he picks up the phone and calls Sal. Sal is the boss of the SCORE International Offroad Series, with the same status as Bernie Ecclestone in F1. And he says: “That sounds okay, we just have to create a new class for Joe.” No sooner said than done. Joe rolls his monster to the start of the Baja 500 on June 6th and competes in his own class. After all, everyone deserves the chance to rocket through over 860 high-speed kilometres of desert.
But first up we celebrate. Because if the Baja 500 isn’t reason enough to party then what is? At sunrise the Costero Boulevard comes to life – the four-lane highway of the starting place Ensenada on the Mexican Pacific coast – is buzzing with people. The mayor is, of course, a fan of motorsport and has closed the Boulevard to traffic so that fans and race teams can party undisturbed. And it’s huge. All the teams – and that’s almost 400 competitors in 2009 – have to push their race vehicles along the Boulevard, first past Maria’ desk and then to the technical inspection. If you don’t get in before sunrise you have to calculate at least six hours of waiting in the queue to reach the five-minute inspection.
For everyone, the fans, the racers, the SCORE people, this “Contingency Row” and technical inspection is like a huge Mardi Gras, a cross between the Oktoberfest and the Le Mans 24 Hours under the Pacific sun. The jamboree goes late into the night, which means not all the fans, that enthusiastically drank margaritas and cervecas all day, will make it on Saturday morning to see the motorbikes and ATV head off into the desert and 6am, followed by the Buggys and Trucks from 10am. Martin and I take off as the second Buggy team behind 24 Trophy Trucks. Andreas and Armin follow eight start positions later.
Ten hours of driving through the desert is what the top teams calculate for this Baja 500. If you want to be classified you have to be back in Ensenada within 20 hours. And it pays to be fit. Because on Monday morning from 10am they award the prizes. And that has to be celebrated.