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.
“We have a problem.”
That’s the last thing you want to hear from a SCORE tech after pushing a 2,000 pound car through 100,000 race fans in 80 degree heat for seven hours as part of the annual Baja 1000 tradition of Contingency and Tech.
Contingency is the fun part. We print hero cards with a photo of the car on the front and team info on the back. During Contingency, when the car is pushed through downtown Ensenada toward Tech inspection, team members autograph them until their hands cramp. What usually starts as “Dear (FAN NAME) Thank you for your support, DRIVER NAME, 1107”, usually ends up as scrawl and “1107”. Each person gets one Sharpie. “You lose it, no more autographs.”
Our hero cards have been seen in bars as far south as Coco’s Corner and at every toll booth and military checkpoint on Highways 1 and 3. I like to say “We’re huge on the Baja Peninsula.”
Speaking of hugely popular, race fans love stickers. Two of our sponsors – Maxtrax and Rugged Radios – gave us a bunch to hand out, which pretty much guaranteed we blocked all foot traffic on the street until we ran out.
Another great thing about Class 11 is pretty much everyone at Contingency has owned a VW and has a story to share. We’ve done some crazy shit over the years, but it all pales in comparison to the stories we hear from race fans.
We also learn a lot. Like the tip about installing starter motor buttons at the rear of the car so – if the car is stuck in silt – the driver and co-driver can push and jump the starter motor without someone in the car. I’m like “Why didn’t we think of that?” Now we’ve got starter motor buttons on the back of the car.
Anyway, at the end of Contingency is Tech, where your car gets a safety inspection. Starting with an inspection of our roll cage certification band, which was several years out of date. Hence the aforementioned “problem.”
“I got it inspected Monday when we rolled into town. I’ve got the paperwork right here,” I said, pulling it from my three inch thick aluminum binder – aka “The Bible” – which has every piece of paper involved in this race.
“Oh, then you’re fine.”
“Don’t scare me like that. I’ve got a weak heart.”
We passed tech with flying colors, someone found me some churros and we headed back to the compound to do a little more work on the car before driving back into town for the drivers meeting.
As I’m wrapping this up in my self-described live / work space – an ’85 Westfalia – one of my teammates apparently is heading my way and another warns him “Be careful. Jim’s writing out there.”