Las Vegas, NV – If you go up against BJ Baldwin you better have both barrels loaded. Preparation, race strategy and mad skills behind the wheel are needed; three things BJ excels at. When an opportunity to run both the 46th Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in his Monster Energy Trophy Truck and Formula Off Road in the #97 Toyo Tires truck the next day at the X Games in Austin, Texas BJ jumped at the chance.
First on the agenda was to prerun the Baja 500 course. SCORE International mixed things up this year; running the course in the opposite direction than usual. The drivers would head south from the start in Ensenada along the coast, climb over the mountains to the gulf side of the peninsula and then race north before turning back towards Ensenada for the finish. Prerunning is critical to a good race but it also allows BJ a chance to check out the incredible scenery, hand out Monster Energy stickers to the kids and eat some tacos.
BJ’s first priority is to learn the course and check out alternative lines to get around potential problem areas. There is nothing more important in Mexico than a plan “B”. It’s not a matter of if something unplanned will come up, it’s a matter of when.
BJ qualified solidly in the top ten with the seventh fastest time. Qualifying number one sends a message to the competition but it doesn’t always fit the best strategy. BJ prefers to run a solid pace in the first stage of the race and find out who the strongest drivers are. When the time is right, he strikes. He runs as fast as he needs to get the job done. By the time the race was run, many of the steeper hills on the course had degraded into huge silt beds from the constant traffic during prerunning. As trucks and cars got stuck in the silt, it created bottlenecks on the course. BJ used the traction from his Toyo Tires and the abundant horsepower from his Kroyer power plant to pull him though.
The race soon became a cat and mouse game as the frontrunners, including BJ, swapped positions. The demanding pace soon took a toll on several of the drivers. BJ’s truck developed an electrical glitch that affected the transmission. He was able to keep going but was not able to run at 100%. His crew got him in and out of the pits quickly as he pressed on to the finish. After 448 miles of brutal Baja terrain BJ crossed the line in 4th place. He thanked the fans, Monster Energy, Toyo Tires, Method Race Wheels Rigid Industries, King Shocks, Red Kap Work Clothes and his crew before rushing off to catch his flight to Austin.
BJ then jumped into the Toyo Tires Formula Off Road truck the next morning. “From the Baja 500 to X Games,” said BJ, “I was 3rd fastest in practice then qualified 13th. I’m looking forward to being in a crowd. I can’t believe I’m racing at X Games, this is awesome.”
BJ placed 7th in the first heat putting him in the main event. BJ started in row 7 and his prediction soon came true. He banged and bashed his way up through the field to 9th place. His steady climb through the field was then cut short as he coasted to a stop off the track; his dream of X Games gold would have to wait until next time.
BJ will be changing things up a little again when he takes on the longest off road race in the United States known as the BITD Vegas To Reno taking place August 14th-16th.
Baja 500 Photos By: Bink Designs / X Games Photos By: Attain Media