Ensenada, Baja California – Shaffer Motorsports knew they would be in for a challenge at the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The 883 mile long loop that started and finished in Ensenada, Baja Mexico had some of everything to challenge drivers. It ran through the whooped out sands of San Felipe, the rocky mountain passes that traverse the central mountains and miles of deep Baja silt before heading back to the finish. They came prepared for what the terrain can dish out and the fatigue to drivers and car from hours of running flat out in demanding conditions; they’ve done it many times before in the Transfer Case Express Class 10 car.
What they didn’t foresee was the misstep they experienced when they pitted early in the race. The contracted fuelers who manned the pit location did not open the fuel cap. They put the fuel cans up to the car but no fuel went in. When the cans went down, the car was waved out of the pits without fuel. Unaware of the situation, Mike Shaffer and navigator Andy Ferris took off only to run out of gas further down the course. The mix-up cost them two hours of downtime. That was only the first hurdle the team had to overcome. They lost radio reception, the GPS failed sending them off course, had a flat tire and got stuck in the silt like so many others; all adding to the challenge they faced.
When you have downtime late in the race, the cars are usually spread out. You will lose positions but generally only to cars in your own class. When you lose time at the beginning of the race, the whole field goes past. The Shaffer Motorsports team had to spend the entire day trying to get through slower traffic. All the toughest sections and worst silt beds were choked with stuck, broken or stalled cars.
If anything was anticipated to go wrong during the race, chances are it would have been the virtually untested Honda engine package that the team put together before the race. They ran a few laps on the engine at a short course track but it was not even close to actual race conditions. The new Honda power plant fitted with K-tuned products and Hondata Tuning ran flawlessly. It gave the team excellent power and never skipped a beat the entire race.
The reliability of the Honda engine was their strong point. Through the dust, the rocks, the silt, the darkness and the rain, they kept making their way towards the finish. They had no chance at the win but refused to be beaten. They were racing for pride and to maintain their third place standing in the World Championship of Off Road Racing. After 35 hours and 56 minutes on course, they crossed the finish line with only 4 minutes to spare. They struggled all day and through the night but they never gave up! Despite the hardships along the way they never doubted that the Transfer Case Express car would make it to the finish. In order to overcome such odds, it takes a strong team and the help of great supporters like Transfer Case Express, Ruffstuff Specialties, PSC Motorsports, Powertank, BozTec, Cytech Communications, Instone Inc., K-Tuned, Hondata and Shaffer’s Offroad. The Final points tally for the World Championship of Offroad Racing title has not been released but the Shaffer Motorsports team looks to be solidly on the podium in third place position. That will make the hard fought finish at the Baja 1000 that much sweeter.