The 2011 Baja 1000 was a tough race starting with the prerun all the way to the finish line getting 2 out of the 3 cars to the finish. The first day of prerunning it was raining and there was lots of mud and without windshield wipers we struggled to make much progress. The second day went much better but we lost a prerunner to a transmission failure. Morgan and Bernie were able to get 80% of their section done on Monday ending at 3 A.M. While the crew was prepping the last prerunner for Zak to do his section on Tuesdsay, Joe Lombardo and I took a Tacoma over the Uruapan to Ojos Negros section. We heard rumors that the rain caused severe damage to the course but besides the rain ruts being deeper than normal the course was still about the same as usual slow and go. When we finished our section we meet up with Zak and crew to help chase over to Borrego. Again the prerun had issues but this time it wasn’t mechanical Zak and crew came upon a downed rider with a broken femur and dislocated hip at the base of the summit, this is about the furthest place from the highway as you can get. The guys put him in the prerunner and took him out to Hwy 5 where Joe and I meet up with them expecting to go to Mexicali to drop the rider off but instead the rider wanted to meet up with his buddies in Borrego so we took him there. Joe and I jumped into the prerunner around 7:00 P.M. and had a clean run all the way to San Vicente where we called it a night and drove up Hwy 1 back to the San Nicolis.
Thursday contingency was a lot of fun we gave away lots of promo items and the fans turned into a mob as we threw the items out. After contingency we decided to add extra fog lights to the 1 car expecting dense fog coming in for the finish. Race day morning Morgan, Talya, Joe Lombardo, Bill Young Jr. and I decided to watch the start of the race in the wash. What a great idea we had a fun time because the wash was a muddy mess it was interesting to watch the different strategies to avoid the mud. As our class 1 car came up to the big mud hole under the bridge we were standing on it became apparent that Dale wasn’t going to lift! Dale hit the mud at over 70 MPH and hydro planed and spun out right in front of us what a sight to see. Luckily the mud was slick and the car didn’t roll as it spun out.
We headed back to the San Nicolis and jumped into our trucks to head out to Borrego. On the way to the pit we heard the 1 car was first in class, the 10 car and 12 car were also running up front in their classes. But as we pulled into the pit in Borrego we got the news the 1 car was broken down at RM 175 and the 10 car wasn’t moving at RM 131. What a disappointing way to walk into the pits thinking we were all running great to only hear two out of three cars were having issues. The one car had broken the power steering pump and the 10 car was having alternator issues. The guys mounted a rescue mission to get Johns car going again as we prepared for the 1 car to limp into Borrego. We called it a day on the one car because there was so much debris in the power steering lines and we broke two pumps in the pit trying to clean out the lines.
At this point Joe and I moved our attention to John’s 10 car and Zak’s 12 car. Zak was running up front when he turned the car over to Paul Keller. Knowing that Paul is solid driver our spirits were soaring but that was short lived as we heard the power steering had failed on Zaks car now. Even though the P/S was out Paul came into the pit with a 40 minute lead. We decided to try and fix the P/S for Bernie’s section but we threw every part we had at the car and it still would not work so we sent Bernie off without P/S. We lost a position during our extended pit and without the power steering Bernie could not make up the lost time. Zak, Joe, Talya and I chased the 12 car around to Santo Tomas to watch Bernie head off into the final section.
We all headed to the finish line to meet the cars as they came in to a great 2nd place in class 12 and a 3rd place in class 10. Having 2 out of three cars finish this year’s grueling Baja 1000 was a great fealing and tremendous accomplishment for the team.