La Paz News: SCORE Baja 1000 (Dec 7th, 2010)
Dear reader, Anabelle Rossell from our team in Coldwell Banker Riveras La Paz tells us about her experience in the latest edition of the SCORE Baja 1000 race.
SCORE Baja 1000. A beginner´s experience in Baja´s ultimate off-road adventure.
Although I was born and raised in Mexico City and even after travelling to Baja, I was never encouraged to attend any off-road or camping events until recently. If I ever thought about the Baja Mil was because I could see the excitement in my friends by getting prepared to go to La Brecha or to the finish line, watch the vehicles, etc. It is actually a big party around here! So this year I decided to be a participant after one of my friend and his family’s invitation and camp in the desert for 2 days for the SCORE Baja 1000 2010 edition.
I’d like to start by giving a brief introductory note on what the race is, courtesy of Wikipedia: Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 (Baja Mil in Spanish) is an off-road race that takes place every year on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in late November. The event includes various types of vehicles, such as small and large bore motorcycles, stock VW, production vehicles, buggies, trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The first time it took place was in October 31st, 1967 and the course has remained relatively the same over the years with the majority of events being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada and every 2 ends in La Paz. The name of the event is misleading as the mileage varies for the type of event (loop or point to point) and has represented kilometers in the past.
You´ll be amazed that some of the famous people who have ran along the Baja 1000 are Steve Appleton, Paul Newman, James Garner, Ted Nugent, Travis Pastrana, former Sandra Bullock´s husband Jesse James and Dr. Mc Dreamy from Grey´s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey… now I regret not knowing this before!
My friends decided to go to Puerto Cancun, located an hour and a half away from La Paz and set the date of November 18th & 19th for camping. The race officially started a day before and we packed a tent, a shade, sleeping bags, ipod with speakers, food, a small freezer with beverages and our personal stuff including sweaters, heavy blankets, scarfs and many other winter clothes (I was strongly advised about the low temperatures). I reluctantly did as I was told because I found hard to believe about the cold weather everybody warned. Later I would found they were absolutely right.
So the day came and we were on the road around noon November 18th. We joined the #Bajamil trend in Twitter and were able to track, share the updates and interact with other friends who were attending the same event in different spots. We arrived to Puerto Cancun and parked just in front of Checkpoint 9, which was great since we would closely see the action on the brecha as the cars went by. We were also able to see them coming down the hills of the desert really fast. Plus, it wasn´t as crowded as in other places.
My friends showed me how to set up the tent within 15 minutes (something it would have taken me hours) and the shade with a cover. Even though it was getting dark, I learned that with the low temperature the dewdrops would be falling on us. Other attendants came to say hi and introduced themselves as private pit teams for some of the racers. It is pretty impressive to see them in action when they disable and enable a vehicle in just seconds! I turned on the ipod with the speakers ready to listen to my previously arranged Bajamil playlist; we prepared dinner, did a last review with the checkpoint staff and then went to sleep into the tent feeling very, very cold.
Around 12 am we heard the sound of a motor coming closer and everybody rushed out of the tent to watch the first motorbike runner arrive at checkpoint through a GPS device while everybody started to take him pictures. At this point I was already wearing all my winter clothes and my blankets since I felt like I was freezing! Then I exchanged some tips and stories with the neighbors, former racers and life fans who explained me about the pits, the uniforms, the checkpoints, etc… and went back to the tent.
At 4.30 am another motor roared to announce he was the first truck leading the race. As we left our sleeping bags really fast to see him, we realized that it was Gus Vildosola just checking in and following his path into the race being closely followed by Robby Gordon (former winner and one of the favorites) in his orange truck. The Baja 1000 fans explained me that in the race, bikes and trucks of different kinds participate in their own categories. My friends started to check the numbers of the cars with the list of participants and patiently explained me their achievements. Pretty cool actually!
More vehicles kept on coming more frequently as a new day arrived. Around 10 am, surrounded by the fog, one of the bike racers stopped and stepped out of his bike. He seemed tired, sad and disappointed, his face was red and his hands were shaking. He looked like he could not finish, but the fans got closer to help him with his bike, offering water and food and encouraged him to finish. I don´t know what happened to him, whether if he made it to the end but I was impressed to see the support of the racers.
When we returned to La Paz we found that our 4.30 am visitor, Gus Vildosola, won the race, making it the first time a Mexican wins the Baja 1000. The Father/Son #21 Trophy-Truck team of Gus Vildosola Jr. and Gus Vildosola Sr. dominated the 43rd SCORE Baja 1000 race in 19 hours and 04 seconds, claiming the overall vehicle title. As an interesting statistic, out of 292 starters of the race, just 197 finished in La Paz.
To me, this year’s race was a great event. I could almost feel the adrenaline running through the veins of some of the participants while they drove in the desert… but most importantly, I learned about the off-road experience. It has become an important sport and cultural event to locals, nationals and foreigners. There is no doubt that it is one of the many different ways Baja can be lived… from tip to toe.