Reno, NV - The HDRA Eldorado Reno 500 will be a tough race for BJ Baldwin but it won’t be due to the 500 miles of punishing rocks, silt and steep hills on the Tahoe-Reno Motorplex course. The toughest thing for BJ will be that he won’t be driving; well for very long anyways.
BJ is sidelined with a hand injury that needs a few more weeks to heal. His hand was damaged when a firearm suppressor failed, causing it to explode into pieces. “My hand is doing well but until the bone in my broken finger has a chance to heal, I have to be careful,” says BJ.
He has a titanium rod inserted into the marrow of his bone to keep it in position as it heals. If he were to catch that finger on the steering wheel the rod could get bent. Aside from the pain and a crooked finger, it would be very difficult to remove the rod. The best thing to do is let it heal. BJ also has a wrist injury unrelated to the accident that will benefit from a short break from driving. “I will start the race in my Monster Energy / Toyo Tires / Rigid industries Chevrolet to qualify as the driver of record and then let another Vegas Trophy Truck driver, TJ Flores drive the rest, “says BJ, “TJ was my first choice to take over driving for me. He is the most logical choice since he races an SPD Trophy Truck similar to mine and has no contractual conflicts to deal with.
TJ has 15 years’ experience racing buggies and has already taken an overall victory at the Silver State 300 in his first season driving a Trophy Truck. I will leave TJ, Johnny Nelson and the crew with the task of putting in a solid effort for us. I will be coordinating communications with the crew, riding in the helicopter and taking pictures.”
Make sure to stop by and say hello to BJ on Friday during technical inspection. At Reno, the trucks stay parked on the main streets in front of the Eldorado and Silver Legacy casinos while the inspectors walk around doing their work. It gives the fans a chance to see the trucks up close without having to follow them as they are being pushed. Despite the hand and wrist injury BJ is still able to sign autographs and will be there to take pictures and hang out with his many fans.
BJ, TJ and the crew are all out testing to get the truck dialed in for the race. The Reno 500 is a crucial race for BJ and the Monster Energy Team, they are second in the Trophy Truck points standings for the World Championship of Desert Racing title; a fact that’s on the mind of TJ Flores.
“This is a huge race for BJ,” said TJ, “He could have asked 1000 other drivers to help him out. I have to do whatever it takes to get us a good finish. I should feel right at home in his truck, it’s an SPD similar to mine. I rode with Josh Daniels at the Reno 500 last year so I’m familiar with this course. It’s rocky and technical but that’s how I like it.”
TJ Flores looks to be a perfect fit with the Monster Energy team of BJ Baldwin. In addition to both drivers racing an SPD and living in Las Vegas, BJ and TJ both have rock racing experience at the King of the Hammers race. Last years’ overall winner called it the bone-crusher 500 because of the endless rocks that make up the terrain. Rumor has it that this years’ course is even more technical. Rock racing experience might prove to be a huge asset for TJ.
Photography By: Brian Binkert