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Baja Race Course Booby-traps – 2012 Baja 1000 Preview

The coming 2012 45th Baja 1000 race to La Paz will cover más o menos 1000 miles. The course map has not been released yet as of this article being posted on our blog, but judging from the 2010 43rd Baja 1000, which was an approximate 1070 mileage track winding not only from north to south, but also from west coast to east coast of the Baja peninsula, this race will be another grueling and exciting quest for desert racing glory mapped by SCORE. Previous races have started in Ensenada and finished there after traveling in a circular direction covering less than 700 miles. The race to La Paz presents a unique collection of challenges to the race participants.

Because of the remoteness of the race course’s travel, each year there are reports of spectators sabotaging or booby-trapping the course by digging holes, blocking river flow, or burying and hiding obstacles. Racers are warned to beware of large crowds of spectators in remote parts of the course since it may indicate hidden traps or obstacle changes. Many of the booby traps are not created to intentionally injure the contestants but are created by the local spectators as jumps or obstacles for spectator entertainment. The haphazardly-designed jumps, created by the spectators, are very dangerous as the contestants may inadvertently enter the booby-trap at unsafe speeds, resulting in damage to the vehicles or injuries to competitors or spectators. Awareness of booby traps and course alterations are often part of race-day strategy and convey an advantage to the best prepared teams — nonetheless given the danger the traps pose, it is customary for competitors to quickly communicate course hazards to other competitors through on-board radio communications and radio relay.

The added course length to La Paz requires a much higher investment in dinero. Chase trucks must be deployed along the course all the way to the finish line. They monitor their racer’s progress and supply aid and fuel at various pit stops along the way. If there is a break down, the chase personnel must be available to fix the race rig with spare parts or tow it back to Ensenada if the vehicle is unrepairable. Chase helicopter support is also utilized by the better funded teams.

Although motorcyclists participate and are often the overall winners, many competitors drive modified or stock 4-wheel vehicles such as cars, trucks, ATVs and dune buggies. Race teams consist of factory-supported groups that build custom fabricated vehicles and provide chase vehicles via helicopter, to the much smaller and less glamorized sportsman teams competing in an all-stock vehicle with no chase vehicle support at all. Stock Volkswagen Type One Beetles are modified for use in off-road terrain, known as Baja Bugs, have been a common sight throughout the event duration, but the factory-supported all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible.

As entries continue to arrive from all over the world and across the United States for the 45th anniversary of the legendary Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, all the elements for the SCOREville exhibit at the upcoming Off-Road Expo at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., are being finalized as well, including the live drawing for starting positions for the granddaddy of all desert races. The SCOREville exhibit at the Off-Road Expo will salute SCORE Baja Legends and the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame on October 6 & 7. Autograph sessions will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at SCOREville with many of the top desert racers from today and yesterday. The live drawing for starting positions, by class, as well as the unveiling of the official course map for the November 14-17 race that run down the length of the Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula will start in Ensenada, Baja California and finish in La Paz, Baja California Sur. The granddaddy of all desert races will begin November 14th in Ensenada.

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