Banning Motorsports came away with a big win at the 45th annual Baja 1000. The team took the victory in class 10 and finished an impressive 16th overall; well ahead of many unlimited trucks and buggies. The Baja 1000, considered to be the most grueling off-road race in the world, travelled down the Baja Peninsula 1,121.55 miles from Ensenada on the Pacific Ocean south to La Paz on the sea of Cortez.
The team spent weeks in Mexico prerunning the course, preparing logistics for the race and spreading smiles wherever they went. One special stop for the team was at El Oasis Orphanage in Valle De Trinidad. They handed out a huge amount of food, personal hygiene items, clothing, bicycles and race team shirts for all 50 kids. Banning Motorsports visits the orphanage every year when they head south to challenge the Baja 1000. “We look forward to seeing the kids each year when we visit,” said Lee Banning, “It’s great seeing the smiles on their faces and how much they’ve grown.” The giving continued at contingency before the race when the team handed out over 10 cases of Troop Fuel Energy Drink, team hero cards and T-shirts to a huge crowd of fans.
On race day, the mood would be a bit more serious but filled with the same excitement for what lay ahead. The team would rely on four drivers during the race. Lee Sr. and co-rider Chris Godfrey would start off the line and run to coco’s corner. Cory Boyer would jump behind the wheel and continue with Chris to San Ignacio, where Rick Graf and Alan Dillemuth would take over until Loreto. The final leg of the race would be run by Lee Banning Jr. and Nicolas Ambriz. They would have the thrill of crossing the finish line in La Paz.
The crew was ready too with a comprehensive plan for the 29-team members and 9 chase trucks scattered across the Baja Peninsula. “If you think about the whole one thousand plus miles, it can be overwhelming,” said Lee, “If you break it into sections and each person does what it takes to get through their section, things go a lot smoother.” The team executed perfectly running trouble-free all day passing much faster Class 1 and Trophy Trucks on their way to victory. The team also won last year in the score lite class so this win makes it two in a row at the Baja 1000.
“We need to say a huge thank you to all our team members and their families for letting them come along,” said Lee Banning Sr. “We could not have won this incredible race without the huge support of our great sponsors; Ford Racing, General Tire, Fox Shox, Select Glass, Method Race Wheels, Neo Synthetics, KC Hilites, Foddrill Fabrication, Weddle Industries, Odyssey Batteries, Action Auto, Azuñia Tequila, and Passion Biba wine. Thanks to all.”
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