COPS Racing

COPS Racing at the 50th Baja 1000

It began 50 years ago as the National Off Road Racing Association’s Mexican 1000, beginning in Tijuana and racing from Ensenada to La Paz. 68 vehicles started the race competing in four classes. This year, SCORE-International is the sanctioning body for the race named the Baja 1000, with a 1,134 mile run from Ensenada to La Paz with more than 400 entrants. (course map).

Racers have 48 hours to complete the course which means everyone will be driving through a night. The slower classes and cars with problems will be racing through two nights. No matter how you slice it, racing in the Baja 1000 involves a really long day.

Cops Racing Team entered three cars in the race: Trophy Truck #50 driven by Zak Langley, the Class 1 #150 driven by Morgan Langley, and the Mason Trophy Truck Spec #250 making its inaugural run, driven by Team Owner John Langley. Each of the three cars would have three drivers to move it down the peninsula.

But let’s back up a week and a half. The entire team departs for Baja, all equipment in tow, long before the race to begin …

Prerunning

“Prerunning,” aka “practice,” aka “course reconnaissance” — running the course in advance of the race to see what’s out there. Unlike race day, prerunning is much more relaxed and can include an occasional fish taco. Drivers make notations of the course on the GPS, marking areas which require special attention, such as big rocks, or surprise turns, or silt beds, or goats — the list is endless.

The COPS prerunners between Loreto and La Paz were essentially the same cars as the race cars. Once drivers got the feel of the race course in the prerunners, the transition into a race car was seamless.

Mike, Zak, John and Josh stopping for a bottle of water and a rest north of Ciudad Insurgentes. Friendly locals pass by with a truckload of hay. 30 minutes later, they passed by again in the opposite direction, but with an empty truck.
Mike, Zak, John and Josh stopping for a bottle of water and a rest north of Ciudad Insurgentes. Friendly locals pass by with a truckload of hay. 30 minutes later, they passed by again in the opposite direction, but with an empty truck.
400 miles down Baja, Mexicans have a slightly different vision than the President of the United States.
400 miles down Baja, Mexicans have a slightly different vision than the President of the United States.
John's Trophy Truck Spec prerunner -- very similar to the all-new #250 Mason truck he will be driving in the race.
John’s Trophy Truck Spec prerunner — very similar to the all-new #250 Mason truck he will be driving in the race.
Every time we stopped while prerunning, locals would show up, seemingly out of nowhere, to look at the cars and take photos. Of course, this gave us the opportunity to hand out steekers.
Every time we stopped while prerunning, locals would show up, seemingly out of nowhere, to look at the cars and take photos. Of course, this gave us the opportunity to hand out steekers.
Goat season in Baja. Here, a flock migrates from over there to over there, with little regard to highway traffic.
Goat season in Baja. Here, a flock migrates from over there to over there, with little regard to highway traffic.
Josh and Mark fueling the prerunners at the same place the race trucks will take on fuel during the race: the future location of BFGoodrich Pit #8 at Santa Rita, Race Mile 1013.
Josh and Mark fueling the prerunners at the same place the race trucks will take on fuel during the race: the future location of BFGoodrich Pit #8 at Santa Rita, Race Mile 1013.
Morgan makes a low-key departure after fueling. His destination is La Paz, 120 miles away.
Morgan makes a low-key departure after fueling. His destination is La Paz, 120 miles away.
A local videos John's equally stealthy departure after fueling.
A local videos John’s equally stealthy departure after fueling.
In the parking lot of the La Paz Hyatt, John shows off the tree he nailed while prerunning (among other things which we won't go into right now).
In the parking lot of the La Paz Hyatt, John shows off the tree he nailed while prerunning (among other things which we won’t go into at this time).
We celebrated our first night in La Paz with a team dinner on the beach at Stella's Cucina Al Forno & Beach Club, an exceptional Italian restaurant.
We celebrated our first night in La Paz with a team dinner on the beach at Stella’s Cucina Al Forno & Beach Club, an exceptional Italian restaurant.
Sunrise over Island Carmen offshore from Loreto. Our prerunning day begins.
Sunrise over Island Carmen offshore from Loreto. Our prerunning day begins.
 COPS arrived in Loreto before most other teams, but on the weekend prior to the race, the hotel parking lot was filling up with other teams' prerunners.
COPS arrived in Loreto before most other teams, but on the weekend prior to the race, the hotel parking lot was filling up with other teams’ prerunners.
Chickens, as it turns out, are big fans of COPS Racing.
Chickens, as it turns out, are big fans of COPS Racing.
Early morning in the parking lot of the Mision Hotel. Note the damage to the front right fender of the prerunner, and remember that damage. Time to use your short-term memory.
Early morning in the parking lot of the Mision Hotel. Note the damage to the front right fender of the prerunner, and remember that damage. Time to use your short-term memory.
Excessive tire wear can lead to low pressure.
Excessive tire wear can lead to low pressure.
Epiphytic plant balls on the wires of Ciudad Insurgentes.
Epiphytic plant balls on the wires of Ciudad Insurgentes.

The 50th Baja 1000

Let’s cut to the chase. Our race day started on Friday morning at around 2:30 at the BFGoodrich pits near the oasis/farming community of La Purisima. The three COPS cars left the starting line in 750-mile-distant Ensenada, 15 hours earlier. The #150 Class 1 and #50 Trophy Truck DNF’d and would not see Valle T or Loreto, respectively. On the other hand, the #250 Trophy Truck Spec was doing well, quite well.

The COPS #250, making its inaugural run, takes on fuel at the BFG Pits at Race Mile 750. Steve Hengeveld is a full 20 minutes in front of the #2 guy in class. Kash Vessels drove the first third of the race before handing the truck over to Steve. Once he arrives in Loreto, Steve will hand over the driving duties to John who takes it to the finish. Time to pull that damaged front right fender out of short-term memory.
The COPS #250, making its inaugural run, takes on fuel at the BFG Pits at Race Mile 750. Steve Hengeveld was a full 20 minutes in front of the #2 guy in class — my timing had to be off. Kash Vessels drove the first third of the race before handing the truck over to Steve. Once he arrives in Loreto, Steve will hand over the driving duties to John who takes it to the finish. Time to pull that damaged front right fender out of short-term memory.
The second of only two actual race photos. The #250 takes 27 gallons of fuel at the BFG Pits -- just enough to get the truck over the mountain and to the driver change in Loreto.
The second of only two actual race photos. The #250 takes 27 gallons of fuel at the BFG Pits — just enough to get the truck over the mountain and to the driver change in Loreto.

The view from the BFG Pits after sunup.
The view from the BFG Pits after sunup.
We dashed to the finish in La Paz, but that was after John Langley drove the #250 to a first place finish in class, and 13th overall. Of the 405 entrants, around 240 finished. We all met at Stella Restaurant for a celebratory dinner on the beach while John chats with the owner of the restaurant.
We dashed to the finish in La Paz, but that was after John Langley drove the #250 to a first place finish in class, and 13th overall. Of the 405 entrants, around 240 finished. We all met at Stella Restaurant for a celebratory dinner on the beach while John chats with the owner of the restaurant.
El Señor Vaca Muerta es amigo de Chupacabra. ¡Mierda!
El Señor Vaca Muerta es amigo de Chupacabra. ¡Mierda!
Driving up the peninsula, I came in contact with a cow (no, not Señor Vaca). The cow started walking onto the highway from the left side, but at the last second, thankfully, the cow turned away from me and I only sideswiped him, causing us to take a short, unplanned ride into the desert.
Driving up the peninsula, I came in contact with a cow (no, not Señor Vaca). The cow started walking onto the highway from the left side, but at the last second, thankfully, the cow turned away from me and I only sideswiped him, causing us to take a short, unplanned ride into the desert.
We spent Thanksgiving night in San Ignacio during the northbound trek. Who needs turkey and stuffing when you have fish tacos and a margarita especial?
We spent Thanksgiving night in San Ignacio during the northbound trek. Who needs turkey and stuffing when you have fish tacos and a margarita especial?
Early morning light on the Rio San Ignacio palms, Volcán las Tres Virgenes in the background.
Early morning light on the Rio San Ignacio palms, Volcán las Tres Virgenes in the background.
Northbound, at 28º north latitude, passing into the state of Baja California. The race is over. Go home.
Northbound, at 28º north latitude, passing into the state of Baja California. The race is over. Go home.

 

COPS Racing at the 50th Mexican 1000

This is the daddy of all off-road races: the Mexican 1000. It started exactly 50 years ago by the National Off-Road Racing Association, the first sanctioning body dedicated to off road racing. The first event began in Tijuana and finished in La Paz, while this 50th Anniversary running would start in Ensenada and finish in San Jose del Cabo 1,264.10 miles down the peninisula. After leaving Ensenada, racers passed through San Felipe, Bay of Los Angeles, Loreto,  and then La Paz before the dash to the finish. Start to finish took five days, if you were lucky enough to make it.

If you’d like to follow along, here’s a map of course, from top to bottom.

Extra-credit reading and videos below the photos.

Contingency Row and Tech Inspection

For the 2017 Mexican 1000, COPS Racing campaigned two trucks: Zak Langley and Josh Valko will pilot the #55 Trophy Truck, while somewhere back in the dust, John Langley and Mike Howell will be in the Trophy Spec #250. That's COPS Crew Chief Mike Meehan with Josh escorting the trucks through Contingency and Tech.
For the 2017 Mexican 1000, COPS Racing campaigned two trucks: Zak Langley and Josh Valko will pilot the #55 Trophy Truck, while somewhere back in the dust, John Langley and Mike Howell will be in the Trophy Spec #250. That’s COPS Crew Chief Mike Meehan with Josh escorting the trucks through Contingency and Tech.
As with many races, Contingency Row and Tech Inspection were held in front of the Riviera Cultural Center in Ensenada.
As with many races, Contingency Row and Tech Inspection were held in front of the Riviera Cultural Center in Ensenada.
Rene Aguirre was piloting Triple Nickel Racing's El "Galaxia de la Baja," a 1964 Ford Galaxie competing in the Vintage Production Cars Class. He saw the finish in San Juan.
Rene Aguirre was piloting Triple Nickel Racing‘s El “Galaxia de la Baja,” a 1964 Ford Galaxie competing in the Vintage Production Cars Class. He saw the finish in San Juan.
Spencer Low's 1988 Nissan King Cab.
Spencer Low’s 1988 Nissan King Cab.
Dennis signs John's autograph on an over-served, and over-friendly local.
Dennis signs John’s autograph on an over-served, and over-friendly local.
Jon Steinhilber and Joe Lowery drove their 1965 Meyers Manx in the Pioneer Era Class (1967 - 1975).
Jon Steinhilber and Joe Lowery drove their 1965 Meyers Manx in the Pioneer Era Class (1967 – 1975).
This 1959 Triumph TR3 was in the first NORRA Mexican 1000 50 years ago, but DNF'd after breaking a crankshaft near Santa Ynez. This year, the car saw the checkers in San Jose del Cabo.
This 1959 Triumph TR3 was in the first NORRA Mexican 1000 50 years ago, but DNF’d after breaking a crankshaft near Santa Ynez. This year, the car saw the checkers in San Jose del Cabo.
A '57 Chevy Bel Air in a 1300 mile Baja race? Sure, why not. The #609, aka the Rippin' Rooster, was a fan favorite originally built and raced by Larry Schwacofer more than 30 years ago.
A ’57 Chevy Bel Air in a 1300 mile Baja race? Sure, why not. The #609, aka the Rippin’ Rooster, was a fan favorite originally built and raced by Larry Schwacofer more than 30 years ago.

Day 1: Ensenada to San Felipe (200.20 miles)

NORRA President Mike Pearlman signals John that he has 10 seconds until his start. It was Mike's dad, Ed, who started this race 50 years ago at the same spot.
NORRA President Mike Pearlman signals John that he has 10 seconds until his start. It was Mike’s dad, Ed, who started this race 50 years ago at the same spot.
Number 55 ends a 117-mile race section near Mike's Sky Ranch to begin a Transit on Highway 3 to the northern end of El Diablo dry lake.
Number 55 ends a 117-mile race section near Mike’s Sky Ranch to begin a Transit on Highway 3 to the northern end of El Diablo dry lake.
George flags in #250 for a brief pit stop near San Matias.
George flags in #250 for a brief pit stop near San Matias.
Co-driver Mike exits the truck while the #250 is fueled.
Co-driver Mike exits the truck while the #250 is fueled.
The first day of racing was uneventful -- the way we like it. Night time consumes San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez.
The first day of racing was uneventful — the way we like it. Night time consumes San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez.

Day 2: San Felipe to Bahia de Los Angeles (221.00 miles)

Early morning, John and Mike are going over their truck. John was noticeably antsy -- he was anxious to get to the starting line.
Early morning, John and Mike are going over their truck. John was noticeably antsy — he was anxious to get to the starting line.
Inside the #250's cockpit, Co-driver Mike makes last-minute adjustments to John's GPS.
Inside the #250’s cockpit, Co-driver Mike makes last-minute adjustments to John’s GPS.
One of the competitors in the 1000 was a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon in the RV Class, which just returned with a win at the 24 Hours of Lemons.
One of the competitors in the 1000 was a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon in the RV Class, which just returned with a win at the 24 Hours of Lemons.
Starting in the fifth position, Zak gets final instructions from Mike Pearlman.
Starting in the fifth position, Zak gets final instructions from Mike Pearlman.
A mile south of Coco's Corner we were able to help Randy Wilson who had rolled at a particularly sneaky curve. Both occupants were out of the truck and OK. The 1993 Ford Ranger was racing in the Prerunner Truck class, and finished first in class at the checkers.
A mile south of Coco’s Corner we were able to help Randy Wilson who had rolled at a particularly sneaky curve. Both occupants were out of the truck and OK. The 1993 Ford Ranger was racing in the Prerunner Truck class, and finished first in class at the checkers. As we were leaving, I said to the driver “Be safe out there.” He replied with “It’s a little late for that advise.”
South of San Felipe, the race course followed a dirt section of Mexican Highway 5. We met people out there, who I'd wager, did not know a race was underway.
South of San Felipe, the race course followed a dirt section of Mexican Highway 5. We met people out there, who I’d wager, did not know a race was underway.
The entire team was housed at "The Castle" overlooking the Bay of LA.
The entire team was housed at “The Castle” overlooking the Bay of LA.
End of day in Bahía de los Ángeles.
End of day in Bahía de los Ángeles.
Any sleep anywhere, is good sleep. But with overnight, near-hurricane-force winds, sleeping was a noisy challenge at best.
Any sleep anywhere, is good sleep. But with overnight, near-hurricane-force winds, sleeping was a noisy challenge at best.

Day 3: Bahia de Los Angeles to Loreto (396.70 miles)

Zak leaves the line in the Bay of LA; destination Loreto in Baja California Sur.
Zak leaves the line in the Bay of LA; destination Loreto in Baja California Sur. Due to logistics, this was the last time we saw the trucks or team until we arrived in Loreto.
Once in Loreto, there was in impromptu pow wow in the hotel parking lot.
Once in Loreto, there was in impromptu pow wow in the hotel parking lot.
High temperatures created brake rotor issues -- they were identified and fixed.
High temperatures created brake rotor issues — they were identified and fixed.
Dennis and Josh make repairs to the #55's rear fender hanger which was severely damaged during a tire blow-out.
Dennis and Josh make repairs to the #55’s rear fender hanger which was severely damaged during a tire blow-out.

Day 4: Loreto to La Paz  (293.30 miles)

Then the Shinola hit the Westinghouse. The #250 drove into a Grand Canyon-sized rain rut which hurdled them off the road, breaking tie rods and the rack-and-pinon steering. One of the #250’s rescue trucks hit a cavernous pothole on Highway 1, which fatally damaged its steering. At 10:30 pm, we received a text from Zak asking us to help in the rescue effort — we were looking at a four-hour commute to the Pacific side of the peninsula. Meanwhile, only minutes before the start in Loreto, the #55’s starter failed causing a one-hour delay in starting the race, knocking Zak from around fifth place to near 25th.

We arrived at the #250 at first light Wednesday morning. The plan was to swap broken parts with parts that almost fit -- it could then be limped five miles back to the trailer.
We arrived at the #250 at first light Wednesday morning. The plan was to swap broken parts with parts that almost fit — it could then be limped five miles back to the trailer.
Mike, Mike, and Steve work on repairing the #250. It's always handy when you can lift the fiberglass hood off the truck and put it somewhere out of your way.
Mike, Mike, and Steve work on repairing the #250. It’s always handy when you can lift the fiberglass hood off the truck and put it somewhere out of your way.
Highway 1 heading south from San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) to Ciudad Insurgentes where we could catch up with the day's race in progress, broken truck in tow.
Highway 1 heading south from San Juanico (Scorpion Bay) to Ciudad Insurgentes where we could catch up with the day’s race in progress, broken truck in tow.
Waiting for his time to start, Roger (aka Royer) Lovell is running his 1968 Ford Bronco in the Vintage Short Wheelbase 4x4 Class.
Waiting for his time to start, Roger (aka Royer) Lovell is running his 1968 Ford Bronco in the Vintage Short Wheelbase 4×4 Class.
The COPS Trophy Truck begins a Special Section just south of Ciudad Constitucion. Next stop in 200 miles, La Paz.
The COPS Trophy Truck begins a Special Section just south of Ciudad Constitucion. Next stop in 200 miles, La Paz.

Day 5: La Paz to San Jose del Cabo  (152.90 miles)

Zak and Josh depart La Paz for a final day of racing.
Zak and Josh depart La Paz for a final day of racing.

A mile from the finish, the driver’s-side rear brake caught on fire, and neither Zak or Josh were aware of it until they arrived on the podium and a hundred guys came running at them with fire extinguishers. The COPS Racing #55 finished sixth in class and 15th overall.

Cameron Steele cinched the overall win in his Geiser Trophy Truck — congratulations to all!

After the checkers -- time for a beer and taco. Or two.
After the checkers — time for a beer and taco. Or two.
Josh Valco handled co-driver duties in the #55 for the entire 1,264.10 miles of the Mexican 1000.
Josh Valco handled co-driver duties in the #55 for the entire 1,264.10 miles of the Mexican 1000.
The NORRA closing party was held on the beach at the Club de Playa Campsesre. There was music and food and drink along with a spectacular view of the Pacific.
The NORRA closing party was held on the beach at the Club de Playa Campsesre. There was music and food and drink along with a spectacular view of the Pacific.
Steve attempts to get a photo by the really big NORRA sign.
Steve attempts to get a photo by the really big NORRA sign.
COPS Racing Team Owner, John Langley happy with the results of the #55.
COPS Racing Team Owner, John Langley happy with the results of the #55.
The COPS Racing table was conveniently located next to one of the bars, and very close to the awards stage.
The COPS Racing table was conveniently located next to one of the bars, and very close to the awards stage.

The 1200 Mile Drive Home

The race is over, so Friday morning we all pack up and start the trek back north — it will take three full days of driving to get home.

This is Baja, so this must be a vaca crossing.
This is Baja, so this must be a vaca crossing.
We're heading north quickly, but stop for a tailgate lunch on the beach at Ligüí.
We’re heading north quickly, but stop for a tailgate lunch on the beach at Ligüí.
Looking north across Estero Ligüí -- the dark blue Sea of Cortez is distant.
Looking north across Estero Ligüí — the dark blue Sea of Cortez is distant.
When in Loreto, we like staying at the always awesome Oasis Hotel, home of the world's best margaritas.
When in Loreto, we like staying at the always awesome Oasis Hotel, home of the world’s best margaritas.
A quick stop for fish tacos at Buenaventura on Bahia Concepcion. A tradition.
A quick stop for fish tacos at Buenaventura on Bahia Concepcion. A tradition.
Beginning the one-hour wait to cross the border into the US at Tecate. When we got home, we had driven a little over 2,900 miles with more than 52 hours of driving time. What we call "fun."
Beginning the one-hour wait to cross the border into the US at Tecate. When we got home, we had driven a little over 2,900 miles with more than 52 hours of driving time. That, with sleep deprivation and hunger, is what we call “fun.”

Extra-credit reading and videos:

A Few Photos from the Baja 1000

The 49th running of the SCORE Baja 1000 was held November 18 with 270 competitors planning to finish the 854-mile course. The race started in Ensenada running east to Ojos Negros, then back to the Pacific Coast and south to El Rosario. After a big loop in the desert, racers headed back up the Pacific Coast, then east toward the Sea of Cortez. Once on the east side of the peninsula, the course headed back toward the checkers in Ensenada. Only 142 racers eventually saw the finish.

Brad carefully applies COPS branding to the new ES-Motorsports-built Class 1 car.
Brad carefully applies COPS branding to the new ES-Motorsports-built Class 1 car.
Zak Langley with co-driver Josh Valco piloted the COPS Racing Trophy Truck #50 off the line in Ensenada. Rick Johnson assumed driving duties for the second half of the race, bringing the car home.
Zak Langley with co-driver Josh Valco piloted the COPS Racing Trophy Truck #50 off the line in Ensenada. Rick Johnson assumed driving duties for the second half of the race, bringing the car home.
Passing Race Mile 30, Trophy Truck #11 would ultimately win the 49th running of the Baja 1000 becoming a three-peat for Rob MacCachran with an elapsed time of 17 hours and 13 minutes.
Passing Race Mile 30, Trophy Truck #11 would ultimately win the 49th running of the Baja 1000 becoming a three-peat for Rob MacCachran with an elapsed time of 17 hours and 13 minutes.
Morgan Langley drove the new COPS Racing Class 1 car to a third place finish. It was the car's first race and ran nearly flawless.
Morgan Langley drove the new COPS Racing  Class 1 car to a third place finish. It was the car’s first race and ran nearly flawless.
This ice cream vendor used the race course to reach a spectator area, darting between Trophy Trucks.
This ice cream vendor used the race course to reach a spectator area, darting between Trophy Trucks.
John Langley and Mike Howell in the COPS Racing #250 Trophy Truck Spec.
John Langley and Mike Howell in the COPS Racing #250 Trophy Truck Spec.
Spectating a desert race is dirty business; these guys didn't bother to roll up the windows.
Spectating a desert race is dirty business; these guys didn’t bother to roll up the windows.
A few miles down course from here, the #250 made a hard impact with a ditch ending its dash to the finish.
A few miles down course from here, the #250 made a hard impact with a ditch ending its dash to the finish.
A single car, non-race-related accident occurred on Highway 3 near Valle T. The Tacoma rolled many times, taking out a fence line and several small trees, seriously injuring the two occupants. Police and an ambulance arrived after about 20 minutes.
A single car, non-race-related accident occurred on Highway 3 near Valle T. The Tacoma rolled many times, taking out a fence line and several small trees, seriously injuring the two occupants. Police and an ambulance arrived after about 20 minutes.
The COPS Trophy Truck and Class 1 stopped to take on fuel at Race Mile 593/710. Dirty driving lights required cleaning, but nothing else was needed during the stop.
The COPS Trophy Truck and Class 1 stopped to take on fuel at Race Mile 593/710. Dirty driving lights required cleaning, but nothing else was needed during the stop.
Fueling towers and gravity help keep pit times to a minimum during this 2 a.m. pit stop. Once the car left the pit, it would complete a big loop in the desert and return for fuel in about two hours.
Fueling towers and gravity help keep pit times to a minimum during this 2 a.m. pit stop. Once the car left the pit, it would complete a big loop in the desert and return for fuel in about two hours.
A bonus photo taken inside Johann Hussong's Cantina in Ensenada (est. 1892) of "the guy with the camera."
A bonus photo taken inside Johann Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada (est. 1892) of “the guy with the camera.”

COPS Racing at the NORRA Mexican 1000

With its roots from 1967, the 2016 edition of the NORRA Mexican 1000 Off Road Race ran 1374 miles down the Baja peninsula, starting in Ensenada with the checkered flag in San Jose del Cabo. The four-day event represents six eras of race cars, defined primarily by the technology available when originally introduced. Each era will be awarded an overall trophy.

One hundred twenty-four racers will begin their journey down the peninsula in Ensenada, advancing each day to the Bay of Los Angeles; then Loreto; then the capital city of Baja California Sur, La Paz, and finally the finish in San Jose del Cabo.

COPS Racing entered two Spec Trophy Trucks in the race: the E/S Motorsports #29 driven by Zak Langley, and the #250 Brenthel-built truck driven by John Langley — both trucks are in the Evolution Unlimited Class for contemporary race cars.

If you’d like to follow along, here’s a map of course, from top to bottom.

Contingency Row and Tech Inspection

Contingency Row gives race fans a down-and-dirty, close-up view of the racers and race cars in an almost a carnival-like atmosphere. The pre-race event is held the day before the race in front of the historic Riviera Convention Center and gives racers one last chance to solicit help from sponsors before the race. At the end of Contingency Row, race cars pass through Technical Inspection, to verify the race car is rules-compliant and safe to race.

The NORRA 1000 has been described as a \"Gentleman's Race\" as evidenced by the relaxed, fun atmosphere of Contingency.
The NORRA 1000 has been described as a “Gentleman’s Race” as evidenced by the relaxed, fun atmosphere of Contingency.
John Langley will pilot the COPS Racing #250 in the Evolution Unlimited Era class. "Evolution Era" includes contemporary race cars and UTVs.
John Langley will pilot the COPS Racing #250 in the Evolution Unlimited Era class. “Evolution Era” includes contemporary race cars and UTVs.
Zak Langley will be driving the 2016 COPS Racing #29 E/S Motorsports Spec Trophy Truck in the contest, for Pro Unlimited for Evolution Era cars.
Zak Langley will be driving the 2016 COPS Racing #29  E/S Motorsports Spec Trophy Truck in the contest, for Pro Unlimited for Evolution Era cars.
Michael Power drove the #125 1991 Nissan T Mag, racing in the Historic Truck and Truggy class, which is defined as 20 years or older.
Michael Power drove the #125 1991 Nissan T Mag, racing in the Historic Truck and Truggy class, which is defined as 20 years or older.
Troy Herbst is the driver of the iconic Terrible Herbst Land Shark, the revolutionary 1994 Smittybuilt truggy.
Troy Herbst is the driver of the iconic Terrible Herbst Land Shark, the revolutionary 1994 Smittybuilt truggy (half truck, half buggy).
Jonathan Swift raced this 1975 Ford F-100 in the Pioneer 4x4 class.
Jonathan Swift raced this 1975 Ford F-100 in the Pioneer 4×4 class.
John Swift is driving the 1972 Olds Cutlass in the Pioneer Era class, for 1967 through 1975 cars. The car was festooned with a tequila version of the Tecate Girls.
John Swift is driving the 1972 Olds Cutlass in the Pioneer Era class, for 1967 through 1975 cars. The car was festooned with a tequila version of  The Tecate Girls.

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Day 1: Ensenada to Bahia de Los Angeles (456.70 miles)

COPS staged at 6 a.m for the 7 a.m. start of the 1374 mile race. After departing Ensenada, racers will log 456 miles before seeing the day’s finish in the Bay of Los Angeles on the east side of Baja.

John chats with the Brenthel brothers before the race.
John chats with the Brenthel brothers before the race.
Mark McMillian's Baja-winning #83 1979 Chenowth Class 2 car. When one of the COPS Crew Members walked past, Mark called him over and bragged, \"Hey, you guys don't have one of these.\" He pushed a button on his dash and a digital read-out said \"Beer me! Beer me!\"
Mark McMillian’s Baja-winning #83 1979 Chenowth Class 2 car. When one of the COPS Crew Members walked past, Mark called him over and bragged, “Hey, you guys don’t have one of these.” He pushed a button on his dash and a digital read-out said “Beer me! Beer me!”
Mike Howell will handle the right-hand seat duties with John Langley in the COPS #250.
Mike Howell will handle the right-hand seat duties with John Langley in the COPS #250.
The #29 COPS truck is off the line in Ensenada with its cross-hairs on Cabo.
The #29 COPS truck is off the line in Ensenada with its cross-hairs on Cabo.
Coco, from the world-famous Coco's Corner, is a race dignitary.
Coco, from the world-famous Coco’s Corner, is a race dignitary.
John leaves the dirt and enters Highway 1 outrunning a bus.
John leaves the dirt and enters Highway 1 outrunning a bus.
Our first gas stop at Santa Maria, around 125 miles into Day 1, and midway in our first Special Section. Due to timing, we had the time for a luxuriously-long gas stop where drivers could get out of the car and relax.
Our first gas stop at Santa Maria, around 125 miles into Day 1, and midway in our first Special Section. Due to timing, we had the time for a luxuriously-long gas stop where drivers could get out of the car and relax.
The second truck arrives in our pits - George prepares to fuel it.
The second truck arrives in our pits — George prepares to fuel it.
Zak schools Mike on some of the navigation equipment.
Zak schools Mike on some of the navigation equipment.
The co-driver navigates with a road book (aka tulip notes) augmenting the GPS - he has little time to look out the window.
The co-driver navigates with a road book (aka tulip notes) augmenting the GPS — he has little time to look out the window.
At our second fuel stop, Kory Halopoff repairs the #29's rear Fiberglas fender. Kory will drive the #250 for a leg of the race to give John a break.
At our second fuel stop, Kory Halopoff repairs the #29’s rear Fiberglas fender. Kory will drive the #250 for a leg of the race to give John a break.
Both COPS race trucks carry MaxTrax extraction ramps. Most racers view this new technology as cheap insurance against getting stuck.
Both COPS race trucks carry MaxTrax extraction ramps. Most racers view this new technology as cheap insurance against getting stuck.
The #250 waits out the clock on a Special Section, where timing is critical -- you do not want to arrive too early or too late.
The #250 waits out the clock on a Special Section, where timing is critical — you do not want to arrive too early or too late.
After a flawless day of racing for both trucks, we visit Pit City at the finish line in Bay of Los Angeles, where tacos and margaritas flowed freely, along with many race-related stories.
After a flawless day of racing for both trucks, we visit Pit City at the finish line in Bay of Los Angeles, where tacos and margaritas flowed freely, along with many race-related stories.

Day 2: Bahia de Los Angeles to Loreto (437.60 miles)

Sunup at the Bay of LA. The first cars depart town at 7:30.
Sunup at the Bay of LA. The first cars depart town at 7:30.
The Terrible Herbst Land Shark leaves the line at Bay of LA. In one more day, the Shark would catch fire and burn to the ground.
The Terrible Herbst Land Shark leaves the line at Bay of LA. In one more day, the Shark would catch fire and burn to the ground.
John leaves the starting line at the direction of NORRA Director Mike Pearlman. It was Pearlman’s late father Ed, along with others, who established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November 1967.
John leaves the starting line at the direction of NORRA Director Mike Pearlman. It was Pearlman’s late father Ed, along with others, who established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November 1967.
A vado? Looks more like a tope to me! Ja ja - love that Baja humor!
A vado? Looks more like a tope to me! Ja ja – love that Baja humor!
The view of the Loreto Finish Line from the balcony of our room in the Mision Hotel. I was looking forward to a good night's sleep when I got the word: George and Manny had hit a horse in one of the Team's F-350 chase trucks. Luckily they were OK, but the Ford and the horse didn't fare so well. We drove north of Loreto about 10 miles to get them and bring them to the hotel.
The view of the Loreto Finish Line from the balcony of our room at the Mision Hotel. I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep when I got the word: George and Manny had hit a horse in one of the Team’s F-350 chase trucks. Luckily they were OK, but the Ford and the horse didn’t fare so well. We drove north of Loreto about 10 miles to get them and bring them to the hotel.
And then the other shoe dropped. Zak, in our #29 truck, had a blown motor and Steve and I were tasked to retrieve Zak, his co-driver, and the race truck. We were on the Sea of Cortez while Zak was on the Pacific side, near San Juanico, about 30 miles north of the closest pavement. We were looking at a very long night at best.
George and Manny's chase truck will sit this race out. On the trip north, we stopped to remove the generator/welder, tools, and spare race truck parts.
George and Manny’s chase truck will sit this race out. On the trip north, we stopped to remove the generator/welder, tools, and spare race truck parts.

Day 3: Loreto to La Paz (324.10 miles)

We have to assume the cars started OK in Loreto — the four of us, with broken race truck in tow head south to meet the race in progress. The sunrise was quite spectacular.

Steve and I spent a night to get to Zak, who was waiting patiently (and freezing) in his truck in front of the San Juanico police station. With Zak's truck on the trailer, we rejoined the race in progress on Wednesday. Tuesday-Wednesday would eventually be a 38 hour day for us.
Steve and I spent a night to get to Zak, who was waiting patiently (and freezing) in his truck in front of the San Juanico police station. With Zak’s truck on the trailer, we rejoined the race in progress on Tuesday. Monday-Tuesday would eventually be a 38-hour day for us.
Florian Oger tears it up with the Snortin' Nortin' 1971 Chevy Nova - a favorite of spectators.
Florian Oger tears it up with the Snortin’ Nortin’ 1971 Chevy Nova — a favorite of spectators.
Dennis swapped out the #250's air filter - he dropped the old filter on the ground and a little light brown silt came out.
Dennis swapped out the #250’s air filter — he dropped the old filter on the ground and a little light brown silt came out.
Racers in the distance, headed to La Paz.
Racers in the distance, headed to La Paz.
Chris Wilson and Glen Straightiff working for the finish in the Vintage Class 1966 Ford Bronco.
Chris Wilson and Glen Straightiff working for the finish in the Vintage Class 1966 Ford Bronco.

Day 4: La Paz to San Jose del Cabo (155.60 miles)

We swapped out one of the #250's tires before the last Special Section due to low air pressure.
We swapped out one of the #250’s tires before the last Special Section due to low air pressure.
John restarts the last Special Section toward the checkers in Cabo -- a mechanical problem is only miles ahead ...
John restarts the last Special Section toward the checkers in Cabo — a mechanical problem is only miles ahead …
John waits for his truck's wheel bearing to be swapped out. Including the time required to locate him, and mechanical repairs, his down-time was close to two hours. Even with the down-time, he would finish seventh in class.
John waits for his truck’s wheel bearing to be swapped out. Including the time required to locate him, and mechanical repairs, his down-time was close to two hours. Even with the down-time, he would finish seventh in class.
Dennis and Corey and Mike swap out the #250's wheel bearing with the broken #29's bearing.
Dennis and Corey and Mike swap out the #250’s wheel bearing with the broken #29’s bearing.
Dennis Crowley, COPS Racing Crew Chief, was an amazing force driving the team to the finish in Cabo. Always in a good mood, while dealing the constant chaos called racing.
Dennis Crowley, COPS Racing Crew Chief, was an amazing force driving the team to the finish in Cabo. Always in a good mood, while dealing the constant chaos called “racing.”
End-of-race dinner in San Jose del Cabo. Beginning the next day, we will drive to Carson, CA, 1200 miles to the north.
End-of-race dinner in San Jose del Cabo. Beginning the next day, we will drive to Carson, CA, 1200 miles to the north.
Playa Lugui -- as nice is it is, expect to see a resort and 18-hole golf course with loud, drunk Americans in the near future.
Playa Lugui — as nice is it is, expect to see a resort and 18-hole golf course with loud, drunk Americans in the near future.
Where the best margaritas in the world are made: the bar at the Oasis Hotel in Loreto.
Where the best margaritas in the world are made: the bar at the Oasis Hotel in Loreto.
Downtown Loreto, BCS, an über-cool Baja town.
Downtown Loreto, BCS, an über-cool Baja town.

A photo sphere of the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó  which was founded on October 25, 1697 — the first of the California Missions.

North on Highway 1 along the Sea of Cortez. Note the road shoulder width - extra challenging when towing a trailer.
North on Highway 1 along the Sea of Cortez. Note the road shoulder width – extra challenging when towing a trailer.
Playa En Bahia Concepcion Magico Lugar.
Playa En Bahia Concepcion Magico Lugar.
Dennis needed to make an important business stop at Armondo's at Playa Santispack which just so happens to serve a pretty good lunch.
Dennis needed to make an important business stop at Armondo’s at Playa Santispac which just so happens to serve a pretty good lunch.

A photo sphere taken at Microondas Tiburón — Bahía Concepción to the south and Mulegé to the north.

Passing thru one of the handful of military checkpoints along Highway 1 - homeward bound.
Passing thru one of the handful of military checkpoints along Highway 1 — homeward bound.

Extra-Credit:

  • 12 things we learned on the Mexico 1000 — As our internal organs recover, some thoughts from possibly the world’s greatest race.
  • First Baja 1000 – 27 Hours to La Paz — The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. The course length that year was 849 miles (1,366 km) and ended in La Paz, Baja California Sur, with the overall winning time of 27 hours 38 minutes (27:38) set by Vic Wilson and Ted Mangels while driving a Meyers Manx buggy.

 

The Baja 1000, 5 Miles East of Bahía Blanco

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.

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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.
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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:

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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.
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The new highway alignment runs about 2km west of Coco’s Corner, spanning some large arroyos.
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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.
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The road west of Highway 1 was scenic and fast. Leaving the highway, the desert was green and happy.
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The Cardon, Boogum Trees and cholla were plentiful on the way to the San José de la Piedra fish camp on the Pacific coast.
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Once at the coast, we drove south about 25 miles, past bay after spectacular bay with no people, no buildings, no nada.
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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.

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One of the race leaders was 45x ridden by Francisco Arredondo of Guatemala.
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45x would finish the race, third in the Pro Motorcycle class, in 17 hours, 8 minutes.
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Raul Hernandez riding 14x KTM, finished sixth in the Pro Motorcycle class.
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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.
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Saturday morning, heading back to civilization, we crossed El Islote dry lake – think: Bonneville Salt Flats (and all associated speed).

El Islote:

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Alfonsina’s in Gonzaga Bay was our Saturday night hotel. Friday was a long race day, and a shower and bed were greatly appreciated.
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Ahhhh … it’s time to relax at Gonzaga Bay – the end of a 1200 mile weekend.

COPS Racing at the San Felipe 250

The Baja 250 was run at the end of January — these pictures just got back from processing at Photomat.

COPS Racing entered three cars in the 250 mile race: the Trophy Truck and two Class 10s. The course consisted of a loop, starting and finishing at the Arches in San Felipe. Spoiler alert: Gus Vildosola driving Trophy Truck #21 won the race overall in time of 04:03:41.195.

On my drive to San Felipe, south of Mexicali, I passed a truck on its side on the highway - a reminder to be attentive while driving.
On my drive to San Felipe, south of Mexicali, I passed a truck on its side on the highway – a reminder to be attentive while driving.
Among other things, I took down three, 42" BGF Baja TA Trophy Truck tires to the race -- each wheel set clocks in at 160 pounds which makes it a challenge to lift.
Among other things, I took down three, 42″ BGF Baja TA Trophy Truck tires to the race — each wheel set clocks in at 160 pounds which makes it a challenge to lift.
A spectacular San Felipe sunrise seen from the sixth floor of the Playas del Paraiso Resort.
A spectacular San Felipe sunrise seen from the sixth floor of the Playas del Paraiso Resort.

Contingency is held the day before the race on the Malecón - a place where local race fans can get close to the race cars and meet the drivers.
Contingency is held the day before the race on the Malecón – a place where local race fans can get close to the race cars and meet the drivers.
Zak gets some new sunglasses while passing thru Contingency - gotta look good while piloting the Trophy Truck.
Zak gets some new sunglasses while passing thru Contingency – gotta look good while piloting the Trophy Truck.
Handing out hats (or other free stuff) creates a frenzied excitement among spectators.
Handing out hats (or other free stuff) creates a frenzied excitement among spectators.
John Langley, COPS Racing Team Owner, with the world-famous Baja Kat.
John Langley, COPS Racing Team Owner, with the world-famous Baja Kat.
Pre-dinner chips and salsa and beer. Note to people in the mid-west: this is what chips are supposed to look like.
Pre-dinner chips and salsa and beer. Note to people in the mid-west: this is what chips are supposed to look like.
Staging along the course, race crews and spectators wait for the race to get to them - we won't see race cars until 90 minutes after the they start in San Felipe.
Staging along the course, race crews and spectators wait for the race to get to them – we won’t see race cars until 90 minutes after the they start in San Felipe.
Clyde Stacy’s #5 RPM Racing Chevy Rally Truck was first on the course at RM85 with a several-minute lead on the number two position. He ultimately finished third.
Clyde Stacy’s #5 RPM Racing Chevy Rally Truck was first on the course at RM85 with a several-minute lead on the number two position. He ultimately finished third.
Zak Langley is in the hunt for the win in Trophy Truck #50. Zak came up thru the pack and finished 17th in class.
Zak Langley is in the hunt for the win in Trophy Truck #50. Zak came up thru the pack and finished 17th in class.
Harley Letner drove one of the Team's Class 10s for the first half of the race before handing it over to John Langley for the race to the finish. Morgan Langley drove the other Class 10.
Harley Letner drove one of the Team’s Class 10s for the first half of the race before handing it over to John Langley for the race to the finish. Morgan Langley drove the other Class 10.
Día del pato muerto - our Baja traveling companion.
Día del pato muerto – our Baja traveling companion.
One of the Class 10 wheels underwent a transformation during the race.
One of the Class 10 wheels underwent a transformation during the race.

Baja 1000: COPS Prerun and Race

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 different sections on the way south to La Paz. On Race Day, Morgan would drive the Class 1 and John would drive the Class 10.
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.
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, Team Owner, discusses the day's logistics with Morgan and Bill.
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.
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.
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."
Bill and Morgan describe some minor mechanical issues to Dennis, the team’s “Chaseman.”
Navigating a race course access road.
Navigating a race course access road.
We get distracted by a giant bug on the windshield.
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.
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.
Stewart gasses up Oprah, while Morgan climbs out.
Prerunning is over for the day - running back to the highway on the Punta Conejo road.
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.
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.
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 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 would finish 7th in Class.
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.
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 in the course.
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.
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.

Mexico Highways 5 and 1 to Loreto

We had two days to get to Loreto, two-thirds of the way down the Baja Peninsula. Steve and I manned COPS Racing Chase 3 to help with prerunning the course (practicing), and as support crew during the Baja 1000 Off Road Race – we worked the lower third of the course between Loreto and La Paz. This year’s race was a peninsula run, starting in Ensenada and finishing in La Paz, with 1275 miles in between.

COPS entered three cars in the 1000: the #50 Trophy Truck driven by Zak Langley; the Class 1 car driven by Morgan Langley; and the brand new Jimco Class 10 driven by John Langley, Team Owner. Along with us, 70 other people helped the COPS Racing effort along the length of Baja.

After spending the night in San Felipe, our first stop was for ice and supplies at Playa Grande in Gonzaga Bay, Baja. Today's drive, from San Felipe to Mulegé, would be 680 km.
After spending the night in San Felipe, our first stop was for ice and supplies at Playa Grande in Gonzaga Bay. Today’s drive, from San Felipe to Mulegé, would be 680 km.
New pavement continues to km 154, about six miles south of Gonzaga, making the trip from San Felipe fast and easy. The black death is slowly creeping south and west, ultimately connecting to Highway 1 at Laguna Chapala. But today, we were fortunate enough to experience 25 miles of dirt (subject to change).
New pavement continues to km 154, about six miles south of Gonzaga, making the trip from San Felipe fast and easy. The black death is slowly creeping south and west, ultimately connecting to Highway 1 at Laguna Chapala. But today, we were fortunate enough to experience 25 miles of dirt (subject to change).
The 300-meter bridge construction over Arroyo Santa Maria. Traffic was detoured to one side of the new road, then the other. And then back again.
The 300-meter bridge construction over Arroyo Santa Maria. Traffic was detoured to one side of the new road, then the other. And then back again.
Steve and I stopped at Coco's Corner to say hello to Jorge and give him some stuff we'd brought. In exactly a week, the Baja 1000 would be invading Coco's, 400 miles from the start in Ensenada.
Steve and I stopped at Coco’s Corner to say hello to Jorge and give him some stuff we’d brought. In exactly a week, the Baja 1000 would be invading Coco’s, 400 miles from the start in Ensenada.

A Photo Sphere from Coco’s – click and drag to look around.

A Photo Sphere from San Ignacio – click and drag to look around.

A Photo Sphere from a side street in San Ignacio – click and drag to look around.

The Mulegé light house.
The Mulegé light house.
The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766. In 1768,  the Franciscans took over responsibility for colonial Baja California from the Jesuits, however, by 1770, the mission was virtually deserted. The Dominicans, who succeeded the Franciscans in Baja in 1773, began rebuilding, but the population remained less than 100.
The Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé was founded in 1705 by the Jesuit missionary Juan Manuel de Basaldúa. Construction of a stone church was begun in 1766. In 1768, the Franciscans took over responsibility for colonial Baja California from the Jesuits, however, by 1770, the mission was virtually deserted. The Dominicans, who succeeded the Franciscans in Baja in 1773, began rebuilding, but the population remained less than 100.
The mission ceased to function in 1828. The present church buildings have been extensively restored.
The mission ceased to function in 1828. The present church buildings have been extensively restored.

A Photo Sphere from inside the church (complete with cowering church-goer) – click and drag to look around.

The Río Mulegé is one of only two "real" rivers in Baja California Sur. The river saw lots of recent action from hurricane Odile.
The Río Mulegé is one of only two “real” rivers in Baja California Sur. The river saw lots of recent action from hurricane Odile.

A Photo Sphere of the Río Mulegé – click and drag to look around.

Driving down Highway 1, the first view of Bahía Concepción is of campers occupying Playa Santispac on the bay's north end.
Driving down Highway 1, the first view of Bahía Concepción is of campers occupying Playa Santispac on the bay’s north end.

A Photo Sphere of Playa Buenaventura – click and drag to look around.

Standing rain water in front of Bertha's Restaurant and Bar at Playa Burro.
Standing rain water in front of Bertha’s Restaurant and Bar at Playa Burro.
Even though it's tempting, please do not feed Cheetos to the swamp monster. It's a lot like bears in our National Forests.
Even though it’s tempting, please do not feed Cheetos to the swamp monster. It’s a lot like bears in our National Forests.
Colorful Bahia Coyote - offshore is Coyote Island.
Colorful Bahia Coyote – offshore is Coyote Island.
Due to recent hurricanes, Baja was green and blooming. And as a result, the place was buggy - we mowed down butterflies on the highway by the millions. By the time we returned to SoCal, the front of the truck was covered in a  1" thick crust of butterfly carcasses.
Due to recent hurricanes, Baja was green and blooming. And as a result, the place was buggy – we mowed down butterflies on the highway by the millions. By the time we returned to SoCal, the front of the truck was covered in a 1″ thick crust of butterfly carcasses.
During our drive down Baja, Steve and I took a break on the beach at Ligui. Isla Danzante mostly hides the much larger Isla del Carmen behind.
During our drive down Baja, Steve and I took a break on the beach at Ligui. Isla Danzante mostly hides the much larger Isla del Carmen behind.

The Baja 1000 at Punta Blanca

Disclaimer: There’s only three actual race-related photos, and one could be debated.

The Baja 1000 started and finished in Ensenada, with 900 miles inbetween. Steve and my task with COPS Racing was to work as a support/extraction vehicle for our race cars while they pass over a particularly long, nasty silt bed at the southern end of the course. We went armed with all the typical recovery gear, including a sat phone. Our sole purpose in life was to keep the COPS cars moving.

Thursday: We drove from Ensenada to Cataviña and spent the night with the COPS crew.

While driving down Highway 1 to our COPS Racing support position, we took a break at a beach near El Rosario.
While driving down Highway 1 to our COPS support position, we took a break at a beach just north of El Rosario. During the race, we were on the Pacific coast, 300 miles south of Ensenada.
Due to recent rains, the desert was green and blooming and happy.
Due to recent rains, the desert was green and blooming and happy.
Sunset at Cataviña.
Sunset at Cataviña.
The COPS dorms at Cataviña, near RM498. Craig fed us some killer lasagna and fresh-baked cherry/apple pie. We failed to set the desert on fire.
The COPS dorms at Cataviña, near RM498. Craig fed us some killer lasagna and fresh-baked cherry/apple pie. We failed to set the desert on fire.

Friday: Commute from Cataviña to our position on the race course, near RM430, at Punta Blanca. The last 30 miles of the drive was on unmapped, primative desert roads.

There's no Pemex station in Cataviña, but there's gas for sale.
There’s no Pemex station in Cataviña, but there is gas for sale.
Crossing El Islote five miles west of Highway 1.
Crossing playa El Islote five miles west of Highway 1. Pay no attention to that dark spot on the lake.
The road meanders west toward the Pacific. A few miles farther, we passed a Mag 7 support trailer which was at the side of the road,  bent in half. As it turned out, the worse was yet to come.
The course-access road meanders west toward the Pacific. A few miles farther, we passed a Mag 7 support trailer which was at the side of the road, bent in half. As it turned out, the worse was yet to come.
Silt, and lots of it.
Silt, and lots of it.
On the beach north of Punta Blanca (center background), near our support location. We had five hours to wait before the four-wheel racers would arrive at our part of the course.
On the beach north of Punta Blanca (center background), near our support location. We had five hours to kill before the four-wheel racers would arrive at our part of the course.
Two-wheeled racers passing us near RM435.
Two-wheeled racers passing us near RM435.
This unfortunate rider's bike blew a motor at our location, turning him into a pedestrian. We helped him out with a five-mile ride, down-course, to Baja Pits.
This unfortunate rider’s bike blew a motor at our location, turning him into a pedestrian. He cached his bike, then we helped him out with a five-mile ride, down-course, to Baja Pits. He’s from Peoria, Arizona, not Illinois. Update: the Locos Mocos guys at Baja Pits found the rider’s 403X bike (with his help), and got it going again – it turned out the headlight was shorted out, preventing the engine from running. He made a dash for the finish, but timed-out with a DNF.
This bike has been on-the-move for 16 hours since leaving Ensenada.
This bike has been on-the-move for 16 hours since leaving Ensenada.

Both of the COPS entries did not make it to us, both DNF’d. The Trophy Truck, while running strong, hit a boulder near RM350 and took out the front left suspension. The Class 10 car lost its clutch around RM385.

Saturday: Start the drive home. Here’s a video of our drive from our support location on the coast, back to Highway 1, aka Punta Blanca to Laguna Chapala.

Green happy desert.
Green happy desert.
A quick stop to say hello to Coco.
A quick stop to say hello to Coco.
We have a beer with Coco. Or, we have Pacificos, and Coco enjoys some Sauza Conmemorativo.
We have a beer with Coco. Or, we have Pacificos, and Coco enjoys some Sauza Conmemorativo.
Coco believes in recycling beer cans.
Coco believes in recycling beer cans.
From our "What Was He Thinking?" Department: Half-way between Coco's and Gonzaga, headed south. The load appeared to have shifted.
From our “What Was He Thinking?” Department: Half-way between Coco’s and Gonzaga, headed south. The load appeared to have shifted.
Gonzaga Bay from inside Alfonsina's Restaurant.
Gonzaga Bay from inside Alfonsina’s Restaurant.
1. Fly to Gonzaga Bay
1. Fly to Gonzaga Bay
2. Land at Playa Rancho Grande
3. Set up tent under palapa
4. Enjoy weekend
5. Fly home
The south side of Gonzaga Bay. Williard is on the right.
The south side of Gonzaga Bay. Willard is on the right.
Sunset at Punta Final.
Sunset at Punta Final.

Baja 250: Race Day

With the exception of one flat tire, the COPS Trophy Truck ran a flawless day, starting physically in the 24th position, and finishing 14th. The Class 10 car DNF’d 200 miles into the race with a blown tranny.

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Spectators and pits near RM65.5, south of Laguna Salada. The dust shows a Trophy Truck going past, right to left.
The COPS Trophy Truck rips along a pipeline near RM96.2.
The COPS Trophy Truck rips along a pipeline near RM96.2.

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The COPS Class 10 near RM65. Morgan Langley drove the first half of the race sharing duties with John Langley. Mike Howell co-drove the entire race.
The COPS Class 10 near RM65. Morgan Langley drove the first half of the race sharing duties with John Langley. Mike Howell co-drove the entire race.

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The COPS Class 10 running strong at RM96.
The COPS Class 10 running strong at RM96.
The BFG Baja TAs gathered some debris (and was still holding air). The larger stick is around 3x the thickness of a pencil.
The BFG Baja TAs gathered some debris and was still holding air.  The larger stick is around 3x the thickness of a pencil.
After the race, Red Lobster personnel pose for photos next to the COPS Trophy Truck.
After the race, Red Lobster personnel pose for photos next to the COPS Trophy Truck.