Preparation of the biggest race of our lives began months before the team headed to Mexico. Gathering parts, upgrading others, and logistics all being worked on to ensure we had the best chance possible to finish this 1134 mile race. The last few weeks were, of course, the most intense. Axles greased, Tire Balls placed in our new 32″ ITP Ultracross Rspec tires. Tires mounted on our new 15″ Raceline Rynos. All while the chassis was inspected, new fabrication done, more Bulldog lights installed and cleaning and painting done.
Snacks and drinks were stocked up and we were getting close to heading for the boarder! A few last minute crew changes happened and a a couple that had no idea that they would ever get to participate in the Baja 1000 were added to our list. Monday came, and we were not quite ready to leave early as planned. We loaded each truck with parts, tools, food and drinks as Eric finished up some minor details on the race car. Finally we loaded ourselves into the trucks and headed south.
As we neared the Tecate boarder, chase 3 began dumping antifreeze. Half the crew stayed behind to remove the old water pump, while the rest of headed into the nearest town to get a new part. Chase 3 finally repaired we crossed the boarder into Mexico! After a 40 minute drive from Tecate to Ensenada the first thing oneveryone’s mind was TACOS!
We checked into our beautiful beach house and settled down for the night. Tomorrow was tech day!
This year SCORE divided tech into 2 days making tech day for us a breeze! We spent the day hanging out with our Raceline Wheels family, singing autographs for our fans and swapping stories with our fellow racers. As the day neared end, the race day gitters began.
Pit boxes made and chase coolers stocked while Chase Texas was at the driver’s meeting.
Last minute pit strategy and crew assignments were made and we drifted off to sleep with visions of the Baja desert dancing in our heads.
Race day came. My co-driver and I were both becoming anxious. The trucks were loaded up and the race car on the trailer, we headed into Ensenada to the start line!
Ryan and I left the start line, weaved through town and headed out to the desert. True to my MO, around mile 40 I rolled the car in a corner. Not the plan at all!!! Luckily there was a man on horse ( haha) right next us. He called out and suddenly there were 6 other guys running over to help. They righted the car for us and we continued on our way with a bit of a bruised ego! While we were on our side the entire side x side field sped by, so we had some work to do to try to catch back up. The whoops were giant and silt was deep. We worked hard passing numerous cars and trucks. Our San Felipe side pit crew met us several times at road crossings just to remind us that we were not alone. I saw the breasts of Josh and Travis more than I had ever hoped to! I guess that was their way of telling us we were doing a good job! The noises the race car was making through the whoops was unsettling. A good racing friend, Bob Nolan, was a approximately race mile 190. So, knowing he was there, we radioed him and asked for a once over on the car. He obliged and let us know that everything looked to be in order. It gave us some peace of mind as we carried on. Our first pit was at mile 250. We noticed that our voltage was not as high as it should be considering we were running an alternator. We pulled into the pit and let the Texas Mafia and Trevor know our issues. They fueled the car and then took a look. The alternator was not spinning. Lucky for us Texas brought a donor RZR along and were able to take the alternator off and replace it with a stock stater cover. Meanwhile, Ryan and I made a sandwich…. The last 100 miles of our race consisted of the infamous San Felipe Whoops. It is the worst piece of desert I have raced on in my 9 years of racing! At the end I have never been so happy to see my crew! Race mile 345, Eric and Anthony climbed in the car and headed out. It was around midnight. We knew we wouldn’t see them til morning. I climbed in Chase 1 and tried to rest but hearing radio traffic and the crew talking about the race car, there was no chance of rest for me. I had to know the car was still moving. (insert Eric’s race report here) We headed to what the crew fondly refers to at the “wet pit”. It was so foggy it looked like it had rained and everything including us was dripping wet. This was a planned fuel stop for Eric, approximately race mile 550. We fueled the car, gave them dry rags to wipe their helmets and sent them off into the darkness. It was still a couple hours til daylight. At Race mile 606 we brought them in to pit and a driver change. What we thought would be a quick stop turned into 5 hours of rebuilding the front end of the car. All the upper unibals had pushed through the cups and the a arms were grinding on the spindles. We changed out a arms, spindles and unibals and made sure the car was back to race ready and sent the Texas Mafia on their way to race mile 802. (insert Josh’s race report here). Since Eric and I had not had a rest during the first 606 miles, we pulled into a parking lot and proceeded to take a much needed nap. We sent Chase 2 and Chase 3 on ahead to get race fuel and get ready to pit the car at race mile 802. Chase 1 napped for approximately 2 hours and headed down the peninsula to meet the rest of the crew. We barely made it before the race car arrived! The crew was unable to get fuel so we made a driver change, Ryan and his wife Shauna climbed in and we gave them the fuel we had which would get them about a 100 miles where would make an unscheduled stop to refuel. Approximately 50 miles in we heard on the radio the car died and wouldn’t start. My heart sank. Eric immediately went into detective mode and found out that a rear axle had popped out and cut the wire on the crank sensor. Ryan made quick work of splicing it back together and they were back on track! We tried to catch them at race mile 900 but missed them so we raced ahead and met them around race mile 930. We pulled Shauna out of the car in lieu of having a strong mechanic back in the car, since it seem the car was getting tired. We had to make it to the finish! We were almost there! We put Anthony back in the car with Ryan and sent them off into the second night of our race. Once again the fog was so heavy everything was soaked. We made sure they had dry rags. At this point Eric and Trevor were exhausted. We put them in the back seat of Chase 1 and I took over crew chief for the remainder of the race. The fog was miserable and we were driving slow. We certainly didn’t want to have one of our chase trucks in an accident. I was hoping that we could keep up with the race car. It was doubtful at times because we had to move so slowly. We met the race car at race mile 1050 for fuel and heard that they once again needed a unibal changed and that the throttle pedal was not acting normal. We worked as hard as we could in the cold wet night. At this point I was supposed to be getting back in the race car, but a team decision was made to keep Ryan and Anthony in the car just in case there were any serious issues. We were almost there! We sent them off and pulled out of the pit as the sun was rising once again. As soon as the sun peeked over the mountain, the mist was gone. We paced ourselves with the race car just in case there was an issue. I didn’t want to be too far ahead of them in case they needed us. At one point the tracker told us they were stopped. Again my heart sank! But, it happened to be a stop check! I couldn’t believe the tracker happened to catch them at that particular moment! We continued on and raced into La Paz to meet the car at the finish line. It was 43 hours and 18 minutes of blood, sweat, tears and laughs! We made it! We finished the Baja 1000! 1134 miles!!! It was an unbelievable accomplishment for us! I am so proud of my team for sticking it out and pushing through 2 cold wet nights, 2 hard, tired days and never complaining. Oh, and Eric and Trevor woke up just in time to see the car cross the finish line! I can’t thank you all enough for all the support. My friends, family and fans all texting and posting updates and words of encouragement. It really meant the world to us to know you were behind us pushing us to the finish. My sponsors are incredible! We definitely would not have finished without the support of all of you!
Eric, Josh and Ryan may have some race stories to add but until then:
Check out our video created by Emily Dobrzenski (Miss DragonFire) https://www.facebook.com/emily.dobrzenski/videos/1673163356069187/
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