Baja

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:

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.

 

San Felipe Circa 1982

Our excuse to be in San Felipe was to attend Hobie Cat’s Midwinters West Regatta. With the exception of a 30-minute chubasco, the weather was perfect. This photo was taken from Highway 5, Camino del Sur, south of town, before there were houses in the area. Here’s what a near-by location looks like in 2009 in Google Street View.

San Felipe Circa 1982

1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial Limo

This is the largest vehicle I’ve ever seen in my life.

I met this American resident of San Felipe one Sunday afternoon on top of the dunes behind town. He was driving a 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial limo which he’d dropped onto a Chevy Silverado 4×4 frame (the frame had to be lengthened by three feet).

Chrysler Crown Imperial
Sitting high on top of the transplanted frame, the Imperial rolled on Bridgestone Dueler M/Ts, and a step was added to help passengers climb aboard.
Crown Imperial
Aftermarket brake lights were added, and unique to this Imperial, a dropped tow hitch.
Crown Imperial
The floors were carpeted with bright green AstroTurf; an old CHP helmet rode in the back seat.
Crown Imperial
For convenience and safety, extra gas was carried in the front seat.
HOLY CRAP! An AM radio!!
The Imperial was appointed with a deluxe factory AM radio.
Chrysler Imperial
To “check under the hood,” didn’t require lifting the hood – merely look inside the driver’s wheel well.
For nighttime safety, the hood of the car was equipped with one of those nautical green/red navigation lights.
For nighttime safety, the hood of the car was equipped with one of those nautical green/red navigation lights.
As always, photos don't do justice - this thing was massive.
As always, photos don’t do justice – this thing was massive.
1950-chrysler-crown-imperial
Wikipedia: The 1950 Imperial was essentially a New Yorker with a custom interior. It had a Cadillac-style grille treatment that included circular signal lights enclosed in a wraparound ribbed chrome piece. Side trim was similar to last year’s model, but the front fender strip ended at the front doors and the rear fender molding was at the tire top level and integrated into the stone guard. Unlike the standard Imperial, the Crown Imperial had a side treatment in which the rear fender moldings and stone guard were separate. Body sill moldings were used on all Imperials, but were of a less massive type on the more massive Crown models. A special version of the limousine was available. It featured a unique leather interior and a leather-covered top that blacked out the rear quarter windows. Power windows were standard on the Crown Imperial.

Discovery Channel Crashes a Plane in Baja

“A Boeing 727 passenger jet has been deliberately crash-landed in a remote and uninhabited Mexican desert as part of a scientific experiment for an unprecedented international television documentary for Discovery Channel, Channel 4 in the UK, plus Pro Sieben in Germany.” Read more

Now, a year later, the crashed 727 is being stored in a dirt lot south of Mexicali.

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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.

Baja 250: COPS Trophy Truck and Contingency

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While in San Felipe, COPS Racing pretty much dominated the Red Lobster Hotel.

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The COPS Trophy Truck runs with Rigid Industries LED lights.
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A peek inside the Trophy Truck’s front left wheel well.

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Zak Langley, COPS Racing’s Trophy Truck driver at Contingency.
There was a record turn-out at Contingency along the Malecón in San Felipe, including an over-served local, singing the Bad Boys Theme in Spanish.
There was a record turn-out at Contingency along the Malecón in San Felipe, including an over-served local, singing the Bad Boys Theme in Spanish.

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Random Baja Photos, Pre- and Post-1000

This is a collection of random Baja photos taken the days before and after the 1000. Photos were taken in Loreto, Bahía Concepción, the beaches around Ligui, and along Highway 1.

Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó was founded on October 25, 1697 in the present city of Loreto. Established by the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra, this earliest successful mission in Baja California is sometimes considered "head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California."
Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó was founded on October 25, 1697 in the present city of Loreto. Established by the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra, this earliest successful mission in Baja California is sometimes considered “head and mother of all the Spanish missions in Upper and Lower California.”
The Mission is still a working Catholic church.
The Mission is still a working Catholic church.
Bahía Concepción right about here.
Bahía Concepción right about here.
Fresh dorado tacos at Rancho Buenaventura on the Sea of Cortez. Olivia always makes the best food.
Fresh dorado tacos at Rancho Buenaventura on the Sea of Cortez. Olivia always makes the best food.
A dog obsessed with a pool ball at Buenaventura.
A dog obsessed with a pool ball at Buenaventura.
A race team was camped at Buenaventura. We were told that this crew member got after it a little too fast, a little too early in the morning. The photo was taken at 2 p.m.
A race team was camped at Buenaventura. We were told that this crew member got after it a little too fast, a little too early in the morning. The photo was taken at 2 p.m.
We visited Bertha's Restaurant for a couple ballenas at Playa El Burro, located right about here.
We visited Bertha’s Restaurant at Playa El Burro for a couple ballenas, located right about here.
A palapa at Playa Santispac.
A palapa at Playa Santispac.
South of Loreto, scenery along the highway was spectacular. A recent visit by hurricane Paul dumped lots of rain on the area, so the desert was green and blooming.
South of Loreto, scenery along the highway was spectacular. A recent visit by hurricane Paul dumped lots of rain on the area, so the desert was green and blooming.
Steve and I take a break along Highway 1 - Monserrate and Santa Catalina islands are in the background.
Steve and I take a break along Highway 1 – Monserrate and Santa Catalina islands are in the background.
Taking another break from Highway 1, we drove down a wash to a remote beach at Ligui, right about here.
Taking another break from Highway 1, we drove down a wash to a remote beach at Ligui, right about here.
And who shows up? COPS Team people Manny and George. Great minds ...
And who shows up? COPS Team people Manny and George. Great minds …
The verdant, leafy desert around Loreto made it look Kauai-like.
The verdant, leafy desert around Loreto made it look Kauai-like.

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One of the half-dozen Federal checkpoints along Highway 1 in Baja. This one is located just north of San Ignacio.
One of the half-dozen Federal checkpoints along Highway 1 in Baja. This one is located just north of San Ignacio.
Boojum Trees in the central Baja desert.
Boojum Trees in the central Baja desert.
Drifting onto the non-existent shoulder on Highway 1 can be problematic.
Drifting onto the non-existent shoulder on Highway 1 can be problematic.
The Baja desert near Catavina.
The Baja desert near Cataviña.
Baja's Highway 1.
Baja’s Highway 1 – not for the squeamish.

 

COPS Racing at the Baja 1000

The Baja 1000 was not kind to COPS Racing. The Class 1 car, driven by Morgan Langley, made it about 250 miles before the tired torque converter gave up the ghost. The Trophy Truck lost two engine cylinders near Loreto (RM850), but after several hours of down-time tinkering, Dan Martin managed to limp the truck to RM975 where it DNF’d. The combination of a hill and a silt bed near Punta Conejo sucked the remaining life out of the engine.

Staged race fuel at the BFG pits near La Purisima, RM750.
Staged race fuel at the BFG pits near La Purisima, RM750.
Waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting at the pits.
Waiting … and waiting … and waiting at the pits.
Dan Martin arrives in the COPS Trophy Truck and takes on fuel for his trip over the mountains to the next pits near Loreto.
Dan Martin arrives in the COPS Trophy Truck and takes on fuel for his trip over the mountains to the next pits near Loreto. See the video.
A race spectator's shoes, right about here.
A race spectator’s shoes, right about here.
A disappointed John Langley learns about the demise of the Team's Trophy Truck.
A disappointed John Langley learns about the demise of the Team’s Trophy Truck.