Internet Dirt on the Baja 1000

Technology is an amazing thing.  And it once again prevailed at making my Baja 1000 experience a success.  Ok, so I have never crossed the border in a truck towing a trailer with a desert ready race rig…I have never been asked for steeekers…I have only crossed the border in a plane sipping MaiTai’s headed to a resort in tourist towns that know how to keep Tequila on tap.

I am one of the thousands of Internet Baja racers.  You know what I am talking about.  I had all of my icons lined at the top of the web browser and ready for Fridays start: the official Baja site with live video feed, the IRC tracker, of course the link the to Weatherman and the different forums that were tracking teams of interest.

Friday was a busy day around our office, so I set up with the IRC Tracker and the Pirate4× forum to keep track of the early racing.  On the tracker, I turned on some of the Trophy Trucks, 1404 Malcolm Smith in a Predator, some of the 1700 Jeepspeed Class, and of course I “selected all” for the 1800 UTV Class.  All the numbers showed at the starting line…and back to work I went.

The dirt bikes and quads were first off the line around 6am, and the Trophy Trucks lined out around 10am.  Slowly but surly the little numbers started moving on the screen.  They would start then stop…the information good, but feeding slow.

The first stopped Rig was TT2 Pistola Pete with a blown head gasket…less than 10 miles…dangit!  Then TT13 Clyde Stout with the same…another blown head gasket!  Come to find out later…Robbie Gordon did a nice acrobatic move for Pistola Pete…they got him back up and moving.

Soon the 1700’s dots were moving across the screen too.  And then the 1800’s Side X Side’s were moving!  Todd Romano’s Dragon Fire team took the early lead and almost caught up to the 1700’s…yea…catch those Cherokees…but not so quick…the 1700’s started up again and were on the run (ok, so 1700 was stopped for a while duct taping something).  I was disappointed to see the 1804 car not moving off the starting line – that is Jim Creagan in a Prowler 1000 who I had rode with and interviewed at the Arctic Cat event.  Their goal was to win the Baja 1000, and they hadn’t even made it off the line!  What a disappointment.  But their teammate 1805 Shane Morgan was on the gas in his Prowler 700.

Lunch time came and went.  The afternoon flew by trying to get the next issue of the magazine ready to go out.  All of a sudden it was dark out and the dots were still consistently moving across the screen.  Not too much interesting news on the forums, everyone was progressing nicely.  I decided to shut down, and reboot back at home where I could turn on the live feed and the Weatherman too.

We had a little Baja Party at my house where everyone could come over and track their racer.  I think this might be an annual event!  The first bike went across the finish line at 7:30pm – just over 12 hours later – it was cool to watch Johnny Campbell cross on the live feed.  The numbers kept going across the screen and Weatherman was talking of boobie traps, roll overs, and downed riders with the normal chaos on the radio frequency.

Then I got talked into going out to the bar for a while…so back at the computer screen around 1:30am and there was the 1807 Todd Romano Dragon Fire car being towed across the center section of the course.  Right around mile 200 he had sucked dirt in his Teryx and was out of the race giving up a 20 mile lead to 1800 Thomas Grave in his Yamaha Rhino, and now all of a sudden the Prowler 1804 Jim Creagan was moving and in the race – his tracker finally working.

I had missed the beginning of the Trophy Trucks crossing the finish line…In first was Roger Norman who team drove with one of our Battle of the Builder test drivers Larry Roeseler.  Roeseler was supposed to climb into the Dragon Fire Teryx for the third and final leg, but it looked like his Baja driving was over for the weekend.  Sliding in for a close second was BJ Baldwin.  Time to call it a night.

Seven AM came early, but I had some miles to put on the truck that day…a little baja driving of my own…well, that is what any freeway feels like in a 1-ton-longbed!  I refreshed my tracker that had also gone to sleep, and caught up on the few pages on the forums as others had taken the hours to sleep as well.  Not too much excitement to speak of… except the 1700 Pirate4×4 Jeepspeed had a broken front axle that got fixed a couple of times during the wee hours of the morning, but they were up and running strong again.  The 1800’s were in the bottom loop of the course, and some looked more permanently stopped than moving.  It was still going to be a long day for the Side X Side Class.

Nine AM, my truck was packed, and I reluctantly started to shut down the computer…I thought about running it on my wireless card, but decided that the tracker had enough problems on wireless vs a moving card!  So I was offline and out of the race.

11:45 my text message went off with a “WINNER”  The Mike Shaffer/Lance Clifford Jeepspeed had crossed the finish line for the 3-peat Baja 1000 win!  A great showing! With my response of congratulations, I tried to check on the 1800 class…I knew they still had a long day ahead!  No luck, I was still out of the race.

I had just arrived at my destination for the day, and was saying my hello’s as my phone rang.  I don’t usually answer numbers I don’t know…but I went for it…and glad that I did.  4:45pm Jim Creagan was the first Side X Side to ever cross the Baja 1000 finish line driving a Arctic Cat Prowler 1000 in just over 27 hours!  Arctic Cat Prowler and Bi-Polar racing’s main focus for the last year has been to finish the Baja 1000 and now it was an even sweeter victory to win.  But there was more news…not only did 1804 cross the line, but the second place finisher was 1805 Shane Morgan in his Arctic Cat Prowler 700.  They were boasting of the huge team effort and how the machines had performed perfectly with no breakdowns, no wrenching and no stops other than for fuel and driver changes.

Three out of eight Side x Sides crossed the line of the Baja 1000.  The third place finisher went to 1819 Mark Lindsay’s FST Polaris RZR.  After a long grueling race, they didn’t only celebrate a podium finish, but the SCORE championship for the season as they had taken the 1st place finish in the Baja 500 earlier in the year.

The 631 mile race was a true test to all drivers, racers, and internet fanatics.  Although it was the shortest course of the SCORE race, the drivers said it was some of the most challenging terrain mix they had ever seen.  The crews of people that stayed up for hours on end to chase and pit for the racers in the Baja dirt made a difference in winning and loosing.  And those of us Internet racers had our patience tested as we had to reboot, refresh and try to keep up with the ever changing dots on the screen.  I hope one year my baja experience will be in the dirt, but until then I will join all of you on the Baja Internet Racing Team!  Just another great day and night and day at the races!


LINKS:?Official Baja 1000 Site:
SCORE Official Website:
Bi-Polar Racing Website
Side x Side Action Magazine Article on Bi-Polar Racing Team by Charlene Bower In bottom middle of page, type in PG 78
FST Website
Pirate 4×4 Photo Gallery   http://www.pirate4×

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Ben Bower Says:

    I would have never known that there were more people out there internet racing. I was pretty much hooked into the same group. The BIG guys don’t like to publicise their progress….especially Robby…Great links. We will probably hear more from the racers.

  2. katrina s Says:

    My friend and I were at the race “headquarters” in Ensenada, Mexico tracking the race and having to refresh our screens as well. What a fantastic event! Both of our husbands were out racing in the Side By Side Prowlers taking 1st and 2nd with Bi Polar Racing. I can not express the hard work and passion this crew has. What a wonderful reward! We are so proud and grateful for that event and opportunity.

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