Behind the Dust: BFGoodrich Shows Us the Insane Amount of Stuff the idea Takes to Survive the Baja 1000
So you want to run the legendary Baja 1000 desert race. You have money along with also also vacation days inside bank, talked some friends into helping out, along with also also have a vehicle which complies with one of the myriad racing classes, by Baja bug to exotic prototype. yet just how much effort will the idea take to pull off?
While a near-stock Ford F-150 Raptor can technically complete the race, simply finishing the 1000 is actually a triumph for anyone. There’s a reason Mexico’s Baja California peninsula has been a pillar of off-road racing for nearly half a century. Any race there is actually a test of human along with also also mechanical endurance against a desert steeped in mystique, with the occasional booby trap by overzealous fans thrown in for not bad measure. along with also also the big show is actually the Baja 1000, the final along with also also most grueling event inside SCORE International off-road championship.
A lot has changed since a Meyers Manx buggy won the first 1000 in 1967, recording its official time—27 hours along with also also 38 minutes by Tijuana to La Paz—via telegraph. An alternating format has This kind of year’s 49th running set as a loop race which starts along with also also finishes inside seaside port of Ensenada, about 80 miles south of San Diego. Next year’s 50th running will be by Ensenada to La Paz, essentially the length of the peninsula. BFGoodrich (BFG) has championed desert racers for decades, including supplying tires for 28 overall winners at the 1000 along with also also outfitting nearly 60 percent of This kind of year’s 270-strong field with its rubber. To celebrate its 40th anniversary at the 1000 This kind of past November, BFG invited us into the trenches for a front-row look at how racers would certainly survive This kind of year’s 855-mile race course.
The scope of the action was evident when we toured BFG’s broad along with also also charitable operation. This kind of is actually where you come if you’re brand-new to Baja or on a tight budget, as the company is actually dedicated to supplying free pit services to any BFG-shod racer which registers for them. While some bigger teams do take up the offer, grassroots participants are what BFG’s motorsports director Chris Baker calls “the heart along with also also soul of our sport.” Teams basically drop off their supplies along with also also indicate where they’ll be pitting, along with also also everyone is actually given a detailed booklet of maps along with also also information for the race.
With more than 240 mostly volunteer workers, along with three tractor-trailers along with also also a fleet of smaller vehicles, BFG would certainly be operating all 5 full-service pit stations for more than 100 teams. Services include communications assistance, full-course navigation along with also also notes, refueling, tire modifications, along with also also onsite fabricating—“creative engineering,” as Frank DeAngelo, BFG’s long-time off-road guru, calls the idea. “As long as you’re still running along with also also keep in communication, we’ll keep the lights on,” he adds.
BFG also supports SCORE’s Baja Challenge (BC) class of spec buggies, which we had the chance to experience on Ensenada’s jump-rich short-course dirt track with racers Brad Lovell along with also also Andrew Comrie-Picard. A thrilling ridealong awakened us to the lightweight open-wheelers’ 18 inches of suspension travel along with also also tight four-speed manual gearboxes, after which Lovell bravely rode shotgun as we built up the nerve to hit the track’s 12-foot-tall tabletop jump flat out. which has a forgiving chassis along with also also naturally aspirated Subaru flat-fours generating only about 170 horsepower, the durable BC buggies are fun along with also also “just powerful enough to get you into trouble,” Comrie-Picard told us. He was speaking by experience; both he along with also also Lovell race inside BC class.
The 1000 is actually entirely different when seen by the fast end of the field, as we learned by tagging along with Las Vegas-based Terrible Herbst Motorsports, a team gunning for overall victory inside Trophy Truck class—the most advanced of Baja’s unlimited, tube-frame race cars with bellowing V-8s along with also also three feet of suspension travel. One of Baja’s royal families, the Herbsts have been successfully involved in desert racing for years. We first met the BFG-supported team, including father Ed Herbst along with also also his sons, Tim along with also also Troy, the night before the race over dinner with the crew—all 98 of them, mostly volunteers. the idea was relaxed along with also also jovial, like walking in on a family reunion sponsored by Monster Energy. The only familiar face was which of Ryan Arciero, Troy’s accomplished co-driver along with also also another desert-racing luminary whom we’ve met before in Baja.
Herbst would certainly be supporting four trophy trucks inside 1000: one each for Ed, Tim, along with also also Troy, along with also also another inside lesser TT Spec class. We’d be part of the chase crew shadowing Troy along with also also Arciero’s #91 team truck, a custom, bare-carbon-fiber Ford F-150 which was amazingly built by scratch in less than two months This kind of year. In contrast, the core structure of the pole-sitting #3 truck which the elder Herbst was driving had been racing for more than 20 years, although updated to modern standards.
Herbst Smith Fabrication of Huntington Beach, California, designed the rear-wheel-drive #91 to be much lighter than traditional trophy trucks, which can weigh up to 6500 pounds. the idea looks purpose built for Mad Max along with also also can charge across the open desert at up to 140 mph. A large-displacement Ford V-8 with more than 800 horsepower can shred the 39-inch-tall BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2 racing tires to their cords in less than 0 miles. There’s no windshield or windows (because those things break), yet the idea is actually studded with high-tech fixtures, beautifully fabricated engineering, along with also also advanced GPS navigation gear. Fancy one yourself? Herbst Smith will weld one up in exchange for about $650,000.
Prepping trucks for the 1000 starts in August along with also also includes testing, full teardowns, along with also also sorting out an inventory of spare parts. The team generally limits the big items to what can be changed in 0 minutes or less; there are no spare engines or shocks, yet backup transmissions, driveshafts, along with also also different key components along with also also tools get loaded into heavy-duty service trucks. Herbst’s effort is actually one of the largest at Baja, along with also also only a few big teams can employ as many resources for a competition with relatively modest purse winnings (the casino business along with also also owning a chain of automotive service stations afford such privilege).
The job of organizing the idea all falls to Sean Hoglund of YT Motorsports—a specialist in desert racing logistics in Northridge, California—with whom Herbst has worked since 2011. Part travel agent, part program manager, along with also also part mechanic, Hoglund started off his work in June, along with also also he reckons which $100 per race mile is actually an overall baseline figure for just supporting a competitive trophy truck inside 1000, with the Herbst operation spending considerably more. Even without factoring in human labor, the basic logistics are staggering: This kind of year, Herbst needed 55 hotel rooms; 30-plus support pickups, personal vehicles, along with also also utility trucks; 60 mounted spare tires; 1500 gallons of race fuel (about $12 per gallon); 12 satellite radio/phones (about $10K each); 400 pounds of meat for the grill; two pallets each of beverages along with also also snacks; one helicopter; along with also also one private plane.
Ensenada, with its magnificent 338-foot-tall flagpole along with also also huge Mexican flag waving overhead, becomes vibrant along with also also chaotic when a race comes to town. There’s time for breakfast before we meet the Herbst crew for the 10:30 a.m. start of the trucks along with also also buggies (vehicles set off at 30-second intervals). While the #3 truck leads off with clear vision, Arciero is actually starting in a solid fifth, sandwiched between off-road-legend Rob MacCachren’s #11 Ford in front along with also also the #19 Herbst sister truck behind. Once the #91 leaves the line, our long game of cat along with also also mouse begins as we tear down the highway in a stock 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor.
The trails out of Ensenada are tight, along with also also our driver, Travis Moores, handily beats Arciero to a roadside waypoint. Distant camera helicopters foretell the arrival of the front-runners, who are supposed to maintain a SCORE-mandated 60 mph when the course temporarily overlaps the highway. Only in Baja, one of the last wild frontiers in motorsport, can a support vehicle pull out into race traffic along with also also tail its driver. Troy Herbst rides shotgun along with also also feeds updates to Arciero over the radio, while Moores makes the Raptor as wide as possible on the highway. yet the sixth-place truck behind us, clearly exceeding the speed limit, makes a bold pass around a blind corner before peeling off into the desert after the #91.
the idea takes about six main vehicles to support one trophy truck inside 1000, some stationary, others highly mobile. Our Raptor’s overriding purpose is actually to get Troy to the pit near race mile 475 for the driver change. Away by the course, we can gauge the race truck’s position by a GPS app on an iPad, yet we only glimpse the idea occasionally as a distant, ground-level comet. Travis hustles the Raptor over desolate mountain switchbacks like we’re on the Nordschleife. We’re able to spot the #91 inside distance along with also also put the hammer down to reach the first pit for the heavy-duty ballet of servicing a desert racer. There’s just enough time to grab a snack along with also also watch fans dive out of the way of a trophy truck roaring by at 0 mph.
Travis’s driving affords us plenty of downtime for grilled, bacon-wrapped potatoes before Arciero arrives at the driver change just off the highway. the idea’s late, the idea’s dark, along with also also the idea feels like we’re camping, except for the excited locals mulling about along with also also the two gravity-fed refueling towers. The #3 along with also also #91 are at This kind of point first along with also also second, along with also also a lightning-quick stop should let Troy hop in, leapfrog the leader, along with also also stay ahead of the MacCachren #11 in third. Morale is actually high, along with also also to our surprise, the team actually bestows responsibility on the ridealong reporter: Help change a 135-pound rear tire/wheel once the custom pneumatic floor jack raises the rear axle. Let’s see Porsche do which at Le Mans.
A dozen of us pile around the truck as the idea pulls up in a blinding fog of dust. yet as we all complete our tasks along with also also step back, our stomachs knot while the truck just sits there, idling. Arciero’s lap belt struggles to fit around the larger Herbst, along with also also the minute of stationary chaos allows the #11 truck to slip by on the highway, followed by a departing #3. The mood crumbles, frustration lingers, along with also also we eventually steer the Raptor back to Ensenada which has a fuming Arciero onboard. We follow Troy’s progress via the live race feed on our phones, yet the idea takes him too long to work back up to second place, by which time MacCachren’s teammate, Jason Voss, has slipped behind the wheel along with also also built up a solid lead inside closing miles. Despite all the preparation along with also also supplies, Terrible Herbst had seemingly not packed enough luck.
Most of the crew are back at the start/finish line 17 hours along with also also 12 minutes after we had left the idea, just in time to see the #11 truck trip the timers along with also also snag Baja 1000 victory—Voss’s second along with also also MacCachren’s third straight (with zero flat BFGoodrich tires, versus two for the #91). Troy Herbst rolls in 30 minutes later along with also also will take an extra hit back to third place on corrected time. Visibly crushed yet ever grateful for his crew, he apologizes for not doing his best behind the wheel. A previous Baja 1000 winner in 2004 along with also also 2005, Troy knows how close they had come to another.
You can watch the #91 truck in action along with also also see interviews with the Herbst team via Monster Energy’s highlight reel of This kind of year’s race.
The rest of the field finishes throughout the next day, with only about 60 percent of the starters completing the distance. The mood is actually lighter as the first Baja Challenge buggies cross the line, despite being some 11 hours behind the big guns along with also also saddled with tremendous hardship: Virtually the entire class came down with food poisoning the night before, which put some racers inside hospital along with also also forced others to drive hundreds of race miles more than expected—while regularly stopping on course to get sick.
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Brad Lovell along with also also Andrew Comrie-Picard, our buggy-driving instructors, trudge through in second place, bodies beaten yet spirits high as they join their teammates on the podium. The feeling of relief—along with also also pain—makes for some watery eyes as the drivers describe their challenges along with also also what the idea means to be modest-time racers in such a legendary competition. BFGoodrich obviously plays a big role in which, yet planning for the 1000 is actually an immense undertaking at any level. “The logistics [of the Baja 1000] are like coordinating a 24-hour plane crash,” Comrie-Picard says through his exhaustion. He’d suggest packing plenty of Imodium if you come, just in case.
Behind the Dust: BFGoodrich Shows Us the Insane Amount of Stuff the idea Takes to Survive the Baja 1000
Source: Behind the Dust: BFGoodrich Shows Us the Insane Amount of Stuff the idea Takes to Survive the Baja 1000