Those who feel that motor racing has been strangled by rules and regulation should check out the Baja 1000. It is old-school and brutal.
It is certainly the most demanding off-road race in the world. The Dakar Rally is perhaps the world’s most notable race of this type, especially since its move from Africa to South America, but it’s run in stages. The Baja 1000 runs over more than 620 miles of rough terrain, nonstop from start to finish.
Ever since the mid-1960s, hundreds of drivers from all over the world have raced their way around the Mexican peninsula. Adrenaline, oil, shock-absorbers, and motorbike and truck parts have all been left behind on those dusty desert roads. Men and machine compete in a test of skill and aggression for a day and a night and into the next day as well.
It’s a race that has taken on some of the characteristics of its location: where other races are more controlled, the Baja is passionate and emotional. That’s not to say it’s reckless. It is, after all, also a true test of driving skill.
The mood ratchets from slightly tense to extremely intense amid the roar of the engines and endless, throbbing Mexican music.
This year, the race celebrated its 44th edition with 275 drivers from Mexico, the U.S. and 16 other countries. This wild communion of cars, trucks, motorbikes, and all-terrain vehicles (three- and four-wheeled motorbikes) followed a route that didn’t stray beyond the borders of Baja California.
This year, the race was little more than 690 miles of rugged, searing terrain with the start and finish lines on the Boulevard Costero in front of Riviera del Pacifico in the port city of Ensenada, a place known as the Pearl of the Pacific or the Cinderella of the Pacific, depending on its mood.
Rallying the Masses
Ensenada, Pacific Ocean, November 17. This is where it all begins; the day for contingency planning, registration, and the vehicles’ technical inspection. Fans gather early on the Boulevard and as the day advances, the mood ratchets from slightly tense to extremely intense, amid the roar of the engines and endless, throbbing Mexican music.
In among the hostesses, the gearhead masses are clamoring for an autograph from their idols. But the beating heart of this throng -- and the main reason that crowds pack the length of the course, are the Trophy Trucks -- the unlimited power, tubular chassis pickups that rule the Baja roost.
Check out the February 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands January 10) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.
MORE RED BULLETIN ARTICLES:
Freestyle skier Bobby Brown has his eyes on the future
B-Boys throw down their best dance moves for Red Bull BC One
Blake Griffin interns at Funny or Die during the NBA lockout