The 49-Hour Race That Began in a Walmart Parking Lot | Part 1

Jim Graham is co-founder of Desert Dingo Racing – http://www.desertdingo.com. They are making their fifth attempt at the Baja 1000. They are avid supporters of grass roots racing and we asked him to write a diary of the team’s experience at this year’s Baja 1000.

7 days earlier..

It’s a week before the Baja 1000 and I just spent more on race fuel than I did buying my first two cars. It looks like we’ll be spending at least one night in a WalMart parking lot in San Diego before crossing the border. That the race course is said to be impassible for us limited classes is the least of my worries right now.

So…pretty much a typical day for a Class 11 team prepping for the Baja 1000.

I’m guessing everyone knows this, but for anyone who doesn’t, Class 11 is Stock Bug – minor engine and suspension modifications and a lot of safety equipment. And that’s about it.

There’s four 11s signed up for the 1000. Project Baja – the first timers from Colorado. Dennis Hollenbeck’s Team H12:One Racing (our host in Ensenada). Nine-time winner Eric Solorzano. And us, Desert Dingo Racing, making our fifth attempt.

We got started like so many other Class 11 teams. I rented “Dust to Glory” in December 2006 and 10 minutes into it turned to my wife and said “I have to win this race.” She pointed out I didn’t know squat about cars and even less about racing. I said “I don’t care.”  11 months later we went off the line at the 2007 Baja 1000. We made 144 miles before breaking down, having made every n00b mistake in the book. In 2008 we hit a tree head on and blew a transmission. In 2009 we blew through two transmissions. Last year we broke a shock tower. We’d timed out at 577 miles, but the team went rogue,  drove off course to a bar, bought a 12-pack and drove the highway to the finish line, insisting on parking on the finish stand as SCORE workers tore it down.

Over the years we’ve also won desert, short course and overall championships in the Valley Off Road Racing Association series, made a cameo in a VW commercial and garnered the support of some great sponsors who’ve allowed us to keep racing through some tough financial times. Best of all, we’ve had the honor of meeting a tremendous group of people – racers, families and fans in the U.S. and Mexico.

It is a lot of fun racing Class 11. We’re as cutthroat as any other class when we’re on the course, but between races we camp together, cook together and wrench on each others cars. Heck I recruited Cyrus Roohi of GFP Motorsports, a Class 11 team out of  Virginia, to co-dog for us. Greg Piraino of Team Pepe Azul called up out of the blue and offered to chase the southern section of the course for us. Paul-Elie Nauleau of CBCFS Racing loaned us shocks and a recovery rope even after I trash talked him on Facebook.

And when each of them need help, we’re going to be there for them.

They’ve asked me to write a couple of updates as the race progresses. I’m looking forward to it and thanks for reading. But right now I’ve got packing to do. And a logistics book to edit. And I’ve got to find someone to drive to Sanger on their way south to pick up our spare race transmission.

Like I said, a typical day for a Class 11 team.


Stay close for Part II from Contingency in Ensenada.  

  • P
    Pat turner
  • November 12, 2014
Good luck , stay safe . I will be looking for your up dates.pat turner
  • D
    Danny Clay
  • November 13, 2014
Good luck Guy, you are what Baja started out as.
Viva la clase once!
  • M
  • November 14, 2014
Sanger, Tx or Sanger, Ca?
  • M
  • November 18, 2014
Hanging out for part 2!