Colorado Springs, CO 11/18/2013 – The Baja 1000 is typically seen as trophy trucks jumping over rises lined with spectators, slamming through whoops, and speeding down tight roads. Is this reality? Absolutely. The race is so broad however, that this is only a glimpse of the real experience.
The true essence of the Baja 1000 takes years to grasp. There are high speed roads, bone jarring rocks, narrow shelf roads, oceans of silt, and even pavement. The key is to know when to push hard, when to protect the car, and when to forget speed and focus on survival. Exhaustion and bizarre sights make the memories dreamlike. This is the ultimate endurance challenge of man and machine.
Team BFG entered two cars this year, BC2 and BC3. Roger and I raced in BC2 along with Andrew Comrie-Picard, Terry Earwood, Larry McRae, and Brian Finch. The car was relayed through 883 miles and each driving pair was witness to the jaw dropping excitement and drama of each stint. The first leg was an “uneventful” race through construction, dust, heavy race traffic, and shelf roads. BC2 & 3 continually swapped places for the lead during the first 350 miles. That is where my adventure began with Brian Finch.
The car arrived around 7pm in good shape. Our first challenge was the muddy swamps in Calamajue Wash. The first water crossing took out our intercom and half the lights. Downed race vehicles littered the path causing impassable roadblocks. With patience, persistence, and a lot of throttle we avoided the pitfalls and made it through.
With the communication system again functioning we readied for our next challenge – seemingly endless silt beds. I’ve seen plenty of silt beds but nothing could prepare us for why lay ahead. Some areas were bad and some were really bad. Heavy dust hung in darkness. When it got deep, waves of silt would pour over the hood and completely blind us. For long sections we were full throttle, unable to see even the dashboard, just hoping to keep moving. This is the only way to get through silt but can only go on for so long before things go bad.
Race mile 521 is where our luck ran out and we found ourselves stuck in a deep silt pocket. Being stopped in a silt bed during a race is not a good place to be. It wasn’t long before the next car came through pushing its own wave of blinding silt and smashed into us. The bad news was that the collision nearly completely broke off the rear of the chassis and cracked the timing chain cover. The good news was that the impact pushed us out of the silt hole and we were back on solid ground.
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Underway once more we pulled into the BFGoodrich pit for repair. The timing chain cover was sealed with duct tape and the rear of the chassis bent back into shape. We sped into the darkness chasing BC3 on a remote 100 mile stretch of rock, mountains, and shelf roads. To our surprise we came upon our BFG teammates stopped with broken front suspension linkage. Unable to assist them, we took the lead and listened to the damaged skid plate clang on the rocks. Before long the tone of the clang changed and then disappeared altogether. With the rear of the chassis now mostly missing, we made it to the next BFG pit.
The support of the BFGoodrich pit network is incredible. In 40 minutes they scavenged enough scrap steel to weld the car back together. Our stint took us 12 hours and we were beat as a fresh driving crew continued back to Esenada. At this point, were over 3 hours up on the next BC car and only needed to reach the finish line without further disaster. The BC2 team did exactly that and hours later we were able to greet the car as it crossed the finish line 28:43:44 after we started for a Team BFG class win!
BC3 was unable to escape the desert with the same luck. Armed with a single hacksaw blade and a couple spare bolts they reengineered the suspension in hopes of making it to the next pit. Unfortunately even with the effort they were unable to make the next checkpoint before it closed and were forced to DNF.
The dramatic, stunning, horrific, and rewarding scenes replay in my mind. The Baja 1000 is a rare adventure in every sense of the word. At it’s core, BFGoodrich Tires is Baja racing and it was a huge privilege for both Roger and I to be part of the legendary race. Thanks is due to Impact Racing for support of the team and AMSOIL for support of the BFG pit network.
About Lovell Racing:
Lovell Racing is dedicated to winning off-road races at the highest levels of competition. The team is owned by brothers Brad & Roger Lovell. Together they compete in nearly every 4-wheel off-road venue including TORC short course races, desert races, rock races, and hill climbs. In 9 years the brothers have earned 8 championships and a Baja 1000 class win. In 2013, the team will defend their TORC Pro-Light Championship and compete in a variety of other races including King of the Hammers.
Follow the team at Facebook/44BradLovell .
Lovell Racing Team Partners:
AMSOIL, Torchmate, BFGoodrich Tires, 4 Wheel Parts, Nissan, Spidertrax Off-Road, Lincoln Welders, Method Race Wheels. WARN, Aeroquip, Fox Racing Shox, Magnaflow, FK Rod Ends, Howe, Motive Gear, Robinson Construction, Ron Davis Racing Products, Eibach, Powertank, ATD Transmissions, and Roush Yates Performance Parts