Last weekend, Dave and Irene and Carol and I went to Santa Cruz Island to volunteer with the Friends of the Island Fox to help remove non-native, invasive plants from the island, specifically, the oyster plant. In addition to the super-fun weed picking experience, we got to see and experience and learn many new things. The day on the island exceeded our expectations, and as Huell Howser might say, it was amazing.
Video: Meet the Tiny Foxes That Shouldn’t Be Alive – A decade ago the tiny island fox was on the brink of extinction. Now, thanks to a radical reordering of its California island ecosystem, the fox is coming off the Endangered Species List.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The race is over, fun is through, and now’s the time to drive north to where it’s dark and cold.
But we first have to take a detour to Bahia Agua Verde – a popular and safe anchorage only a day’s sail north of La Paz. The road starts out paved, but then turns to dirt – OK for any high-clearance, two wheel drive vehicle. The road is steep and rocky in places, so the trip takes some time. For a reason, Agua Verde is popular among sailors, but not so much by drivers.
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.
A Photo Sphere from Punta Conejo and the light house – click and drag to look around.
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.
A Photo Sphere of our camp site on the Pacific Coast – click and drag to look around.
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.
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.
Two back-to-back weekends in the Eastern Sierras, with base camp at Mammoth Lakes.
The purpose of the first weekend was to attend the 2014 Kamikaze Mountain Bike Games, which were fast and fun and furious. The second weekend included riding Lower Rock Creek, Rock Creek Lake, Tom’s Place, and Saddlebag Lake; in Yosemite we hiked Mays Lake and Tuolumne Meadows on the east side of the Park.
Ten photo spheres from around the Owens Valley – treat them as if you were using Google Street View. Click and hold and drag the mouse to look around, up and down. Go advanced and zoom in and out. Or go big with full-screen mode.
The Cerro Gordo Ghost Town, American Hotel – 700 mines in the Cerro Gordo district searched for silver, lead and zinc ore – rough business considering the remote location. The mines were located at 8,000′ in the Inyo Mountains on the west side of Death Valley National Park.
Cocktail Rock in the Alabama Hills – Overlooking the Alabama Hills with Mt. Whitney in the background. From left to right, that’s Barbara, Carol, Rick, Ron, Matt, Morgan (hiding behind Matt), and Sandy.
The Salt Tram – The Salt Tram at the top of the Inyo Mountains. The tram was built around 100 years ago to transport salt from the Saline Valley, over the mountains, and down to Owens Lake for distribution.