For the purpose of the Baja 1000 Off Road Race, COPS Racing divided the peninsula into thirds, to best manage crew and logistics. Our section of the course was the lower third, between Loreto and the finish at La Paz. During the race, our job was to hang out close to some nasty silt beds near Race Mile 1190, and wait for the Class 10 car. Should he encounter stuckage problems, we were there to help unstuck.
Sunday morning off-loading the prerunner, Oprah, in Cuidad Insurgentes. Morgan and John practiced their different sections of the race course in the southern third of Baja. On Race Day, Morgan would drive the Class 1 and John would drive the Class 10.
The COPS prerunner was built by Racer Engineering, sporting a race Corvette motor and three feet of suspension travel. It has two front seats and one back seat – perfect for optimum course reconnaissance.
John Langley, COPS Team Owner, discusses the day’s logistics with Morgan and Bill.
Dennis and Ron gas up Oprah at the soon-to-be BFGoodrich Pits near Santa Rita.
Waiting for Oprah at the soon-to-be BFGoodrich Pits near Santa Rita.
Morgan and Bill practicing their portion of race course near Punta Conejo. On race day, they’ll be piloting the Class 1 car.
A Photo Sphere from Punta Conejo and the light house – click and drag to look around.
Bill and Morgan describe some minor mechanical issues to Dennis, the team’s “Chaseman.”
Navigating a race course access road.
We get distracted by a giant bug on the windshield.
If you’re keeping score, here’s our route as chase guys: SoCal → Loreto → Cuidad Insurgentes → Punta Conejo → La Paz → Cuidad Insurgentes → Santa Rita → Punta Conejo → La Paz → Cuidad Constitución → La Paz → Punta Conejo → RM1190 → Punta Conejo → RM1180 → Loreto → SoCal. All that equals 3354.06 miles with an average speed of 46.43 mph, and almost 72 hours of moving time.
Oprah charges into the silt beds at Santa Rita.
A Photo Sphere of the Hyatt Place La Paz lobby – click and drag to look around. That’s Ron standing by the front desk.
Stewart gasses up Oprah, while Morgan climbs out.
Prerunning is over for the day – running back to the highway on the Punta Conejo road.
A Photo Sphere while waiting for Oprah – click and drag to look around.
Symbolic sunset photo, transitioning from prerunning to race day.
Steve and I had to drive into our camp site near the silt beds, the day before the race which would keep us from driving on a live race course. We had to drive around 15 miles on a dirt road to Punta Conejo, then another 15 miles north along the Pacific, on the beach. We were very remote.
A Photo Sphere of our camp site on the Pacific Coast – click and drag to look around.
The night before the race got to us, we enjoyed a campfire on the beach and some Tecate beers. As it turns out, really big moths like Tecate beer too.
The race started in Ensenada Thursday morning, but didn’t reach us, 1100+ miles down-course, until early Friday morning. The COPS Trophy Truck passed us Friday afternoon running strong, finishing 8th in Class. We ultimately got word the Class 1 went into a ditch halfway down Baja and ripped out the car’s front end, rendering a DNF. And the brand-new Class 10 Jimco was running strong toward us.
One of the lead Trophy Trucks past our location was Clyde Stacy from Bristol, VA – he finished 7th in Class.
Justin Davis was the Class 1 leader in his Rigid Industries Jimco, finishing first in Class in around 24-1/2 hours.
Late afternoon sun shows off the sandy whoops on the course.
Late on Friday evening the new Jimco Class 10 made it to around RM1180 and the clutch failed. Actually, the clutch had been slowly failing for the prior 100 miles, but without a spare, the car was stopped, pressure plates were scuffed up and reassembled. The car made it a final 30 miles before the clutch gasped its final breath of life. We found the car after sunrise Saturday morning and towed it 20 miles to the highway with a bigger truck and trailer. When the dust settled, our race day was 36 hours.