Baja 1000 – Nov 15 to 18
The final checkered flag dropped early Saturday morning in La Paz for an all-time SCORE record with 234 official finishers in the 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Another incredible and colorful chapter had been added to the legacy of this popular desert race down the majestic Baja California peninsula in Mexico.
The granddaddy of all desert races, the flagship event of the world’s foremost desert racing series was a rugged peninsula odyssey of 1,047 miles from Ensenada to La Paz. In an impressive display of power and poise, American Honda motorcycle teammates Steve Hengeveld, Mike Childress and Quinn Cody, along with the Andy McMillin/Robby Gordon duo, posted the overall motorcycle and 4-wheel victories early Friday to lead the field.
The race-record of 431 starters from 38 U.S. States and 12 countries, represented the largest field in the history of the desert classic. They competed in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.
Mexico tourism officials estimated record crowds of over 300,000 spread out along the course from Ensenada down both sides of the Baja California peninsula to La Paz.
This year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special for the third consecutive year, airing at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 10 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.
The value and excitement of the Baja 1000 is not lost on the people of Loreto. I was told by several of the racing crews that the average spent by each team is in excess of $1 Million USD, which includes the vehicle, drivers, crew, transportation and pre-runs. Many of the big name sponsors will spend closer to $2 Million USD for their participation. This brings a lot of revenue dollars to hotels and restaurants for the month leading up to the event.
Downtown Loreto was virtually a ghost town on Thursday and Friday as almost everyone headed to the hills to set up tents, music, BBQs, lawn chairs, etc. for the big 24 hour party. Thousands of people, including entire families, were lined up from Loreto, all along the arroyos, to San Javier for front row seats to see up close the vehicles rumored to race past at speeds as high as 160 km/ph.
These pictures were all taken by my newest employee, Andres Urias. My normally excellent camera was not up to the challenge of the speed that these racers were moving. But you can get a sense of the excitement as you see how close the people were to the race path.
BF Goodrich set up a huge pit stop, where the racers could stop to change tires, get oil, gas, or whatever they needed.
The first motorcycle came through Loreto Thursday night about 8:30 pm, with the first 4-wheel vehicle arriving shortly after midnight. They continued coming through all night long until late Friday night, as each starter has only a 43-hour time limit to complete the journey. The screams of excitement were abundant each time a new vehicle appeared. There is no lighting on the race route, and each vehicle is equipped with headlights that are so powerful they illuminate everything in their path for 2 or 3 miles.
In sharp contrast to this international speed race event, I am happy to report that the horses and cows are looking very healthy and well fed. I have seen several groups making their way along the side of the highway, grazing and being lazy this week. With evening temperatures in the low 70’s and mid 80’s in the daytime, it is beautiful life. Please remember Baja 1000 only happens every second year for a few days through the off-roads of Loreto, and never on the highway. This is the place that cows, goats and horses share with trucks and cars … at least for now.