Our mission at this SCORE Baja 1000 was very simple: go to Race Mile 435, and wait for the three COPS Racing cars to arrive. Our sole purpose was “extraction” – if any one of our cars get stuck in the miles-long silt beds, our job was to find them and get them moving again. Should extraction be necessary, there was a 100% chance it would be at night, in total darkness – more commonly known as “fun.”
COPS Racing was campaigning Trophy Truck #50, driven by Zak Langley; the Class 10 car was driven by Morgan Langley, and John Langley handled the driving duties of the brand-new Trophy Truck Spec. The 830 mile course started in Ensenada, with a loop south along the Pacific, east to the Sea of Cortez, then north to San Felipe, then west, back to the finish in Ensenada.
Our first stop in Baja was at the Horsepower Ranch outside Ensenada with its Legends Party, where off-road legends, Rob MacCachran and Rufus Parnell “Parnelli” Jones, were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The McMillins provided their contemporary race trucks for static display at Horesepower, plus Mark McMillin was showing his old Class 1 car. Speaking of Mark McMillin, the food at the Ranch was exceptional.
Inside the bar at the Horsepower Ranch:
On Thursday we left Horsepower Ranch and headed toward the hotel at Cataviña via Highway 5 and San Felipe. This is the end of the pavement, about 25 kilometers south of Gonzaga Bay. New highway construction is continuing to the south and west, progressing toward Highway 1. The creeping black death slowly takes over Baja.
The new highway alignment runs about 2km west of Coco’s Corner, spanning some large arroyos.
On Friday morning, we left the hotel in Cataviña, and headed to our position on the course at RM435 – the commute took close to six hours.
The road west of Highway 1 was scenic and fast. Leaving the highway, the desert was green and happy.
Once at the coast, we drove south about 25 miles, past bay after spectacular bay with no people, no buildings, no nada.
Good Lord, another beautiful bay.
A photo sphere taken at the south end of Bahía Córbin – what the locals call Cuchillo. Steve does an excellent Coco impersonation.
One of the race leaders was 45x ridden by Francisco Arredondo of Guatemala.
45x would finish the race, third in the Pro Motorcycle class, in 17 hours, 8 minutes.
Raul Hernandez riding 14x KTM, finished sixth in the Pro Motorcycle class.
The last rider before sunset. We only had nine hours to kill before our race cars arrive. The Trophy Truck and Class 10 were running strong, but the Trophy Truck Spec experienced mechanical problems around Race Mile 250 and couldn’t continue in the race. When the checkered flag dropped, the Trophy Truck finished 11th in class, and the Class 10 finished second in class.
Saturday morning, heading back to civilization, we crossed El Islote dry lake – think: Bonneville Salt Flats (and all associated speed).
Alfonsina’s in Gonzaga Bay was our Saturday night hotel. Friday was a long race day, and a shower and bed were greatly appreciated.
Ahhhh … it’s time to relax at Gonzaga Bay – the end of a 1200 mile weekend.