EVENT: CONQUERING THE BAJA 1000
After four years of paying their dues, Canada’s CVM Motorsports celebrates victory after successfully completing the unforgiving Baja 1000.
Competing in the Baja 1000 is no easy feat. The worldrenowned race is one of the largest of its kind and racers endure a relentless course that stretches approximately 1,770 km (1,100 miles) along the Baja Peninsula from Ensenada to La Paz, Mexico.
Our team, Captains Village Marina (CVM) Motorsports of Scotch Creek, BC, knows this race – and its extremities – well. After competing in four Baja 1000’s from 2013 to 2016 in three different classes, we had yet to complete the race. Why do we keep coming back for more failure? Was it for the adventure? The pure adrenaline? For CVM Motorsports, it’s all the above – and the November 2017 event was our year to finally cross the finish line. Getting Ready for the Race and Setting Logistics Prepping for the 2017 50th Annual BFGoodrich Tires Score Baja 1000 from November 14 – 18, 2017 began in July. Team owner, Dean Acton, started outfitting the chase trucks while his son, Mark, and crew pulled night shifts to fine tune our 2016 Yamaha YXZ 1000R for the PRO UTV Class.
While the race car was getting rigged, we formed a team of drivers, mechanics, and chase drivers to help us complete the race. Next, we determined the all-important logistics, which included the planning of pit stops for refueling, driver changes and unforeseen repairs.
November came quickly and with race
day approaching, we began the trip to Phoenix, AZ, on November 5th to get our shocks tuned at Shock Therapy. Three days later, the other two chase trucks and one more trailer hit the road for the 2,700 km (1,677 miles) journey to Ensenada, Mexico.
While the trip started out a little shaky as 10 new tires needed to be replaced on the way down, we finally made it to Ensenada. Just three days before the race, on November 13th, we registered and went through pre-tech and chassis inspection. Following the preliminary race procedures, we put the race car through 117 km (73 mi) of relentless punishment to test its worthiness. In the end, we were pleasantly surprised that we made it through some rough terrain to RM 73 without any issues.
On November 15th, we got ready for contingency and final tech inspections, which also consisted of a big parade where all the registered teams celebrate with the locals, fans and other racers.
November 16: Race Day!
Our day began at 6 am as we loaded up the chase trucks and triple checked our race car. The start time for the PRO UTV Class was 2 pm and after one last meeting, we parted ways and our chase trucks headed to the assigned pits.
With logistics in place, Dean was set to drive while his son Scott was co-driver for the first 605 km (376 miles). It’s times like this when last minute details go through your mind. “Did we properly torque the lug nuts? Are we really going to tackle the Baja 1000 with stock Yamaha A-Arms? Before we knew it, the green flag dropped, and CVM Motorsports started the first leg of the race.
Day Shift Report from Co-Driver Scott Acton
Dean and I were trying to calm ourselves down at the start line. The adrenaline flowed as we waited amongst the pack of idling engines and in no time, we were blasting along the first 10 miles over bridges, bypasses, and highways, which have been under construction for years.
Most of this portion of the race has an official speed zone of 60 km/h (37 mph) and we were following another racer in our class with limited visibility due to heavy dust. The team ahead of us went slightly off course and ended up going nose first
over a 3.6-metre (12 feet) embankment. We managed a full stop by just a couple of feet before we would’ve plunged down there with them.
Getting back on track, we held our own and found a steady pace to our first pit stop at race mile 20. With everything looking good, we headed north from the Mexican Federal Highway 3 onto the next leg.
We made good time through RM 180 and RM 290, where a series of whoops awaited us. At RM 320, we turned off the unfinished highway and went through Calamujue Wash. This is a narrow winding canyon where wet sand and flora was torn up, as we put the Yamaha YXZ 1000R to the grind while clawing out of the arroyo.
At RM 340, we came back to Mexican Federal Highway 1, then booked it down to meet our team at RM 364 for the driver change.
The First Leg Recap
The first leg was wild. Racers were stuck, some were rolled over, and a few were even out of the race completely due to mechanical issues. Our goal was to keep an average speed of 32 mph and drive smart.
Dean and Scott managed to successfully drive from the west to the east coasts without any problems. When night fell, fatigue set in. As planned, a driver change at pit 3 found Mark behind the wheel with Trevor Davies as co-driver.
Night Shift Report from Driver Mark Acton
Trevor and I got in the car at 11 pm and took off to the Bay of LA along the Sea of Cortez. There were lots of cars and a lot of dust, and the race became a game of cat
and mouse. We pushed hard to pass whenever there was a decent amount of visibility and we ended up passing five cars.
We knew RM 525 to 605 was going to be nasty with plenty of silt and rock. All we could do is close the visor, find the proper gear and power though the three-foot deep silt with limited visibility. Yet, it got worse. The morning fog off the Pacific Ocean was thick and the silt just caked onto everything. It even caused the radio and intercom to fail for more than an hour.
At Pit 5, all hands were on deck. We had three chase trucks to perform inspections and the crew discovered the steering rack had about an inch of play. We quickly swapped it out for a replacement as we still had a long way to go.
At this point, we did a driver change. Dean and Scott got back in the Yamaha YXZ 1000R to head down the Pacific Coast, south to Scorpion Bay.
Day Shift Report from Co-driver Scott Acton:
Once the Yamaha YXZ 1000R had been checked over and refueled, Dean and I began to tackle the next leg. The course turns southwest from Mexican Federal Highway 1 in San Ignacio towards the pacific village of San Juanico. Once on the coast, the course followed the headlands of the Baja Peninsula, southeast along a very fast beach track, providing the ideal time to eat up some quick kilometres.
After the speedy beach rally, we went back towards the Sea of Cortez Coast via the small towns of La Purisima and San Isidro. We were soon back on Highway 1, heading south bound parallel to the course, heading for pit 6 and a co-driver change at RM 783. At this point, three quarters of the race was now behind us – it was just a matter of seeing how far we could go.
Breaking Personal Records (and not the Vehicle)
In the chase trucks, we could track where the race car was at all times. We noticed that CVM Motorsports broke their personal best record of passing through RM 664. Nonetheless, we didn’t start celebrating yet as the race was far from over.
Past RM 664 is the one section we were very worried about. The Mexican Federal Highway 1 runs east over to the Sea of Cortez and the course was on the Pacific coast. If anything went wrong, it would be hard to get to the race car. Thankfully, Dean and Scott showed up to Pit 6 RM 785 with no issues, but they looked exhausted. The decision was made to put Brad Noakes in the codriver seat to keep Dean alert for the next 115 miles.
During the evening, the lack of sleep was taking its toll on everyone. Dean and Brad arrived at Insurgentes at pit 7 where Mark and Trevor hopped back in the Yamaha YXZ 1000R to push towards the finish line.
Night Shift Report from Driver Mark Acton:
At this point, the race car was still tight, and the suspension felt great. We heard from friends that the last 234 miles were rough. There were three- to four- foot deep, trophy truck woops as far as the GPS could display. We wanted to go hard but if there was going to be any issues, we would experience it there.
The toughest battle was always fatigue, but once we saw those lights of La Paz in the distance, our spirits changed. The feeling
of hitting the asphalt on the outskirts of La Paz was amazing. Even at 2 am, locals were cheering us on.
After 37 hours, nine minutes and eight seconds, we made it to the finish line and it was a pretty special feeling. After receiving our medals, we realized that we had just finished the Baja 1000 with no flat tires and minimal mechanical issues. While we were the first team to finish the Baja 1000 in a Yamaha YXZ 1000R, Team CVM Motorsports officially finished 5th in the PRO UTV Class and 145th overall.
From the whole team at CVM Motorsports we would like to thank our family, friends, sponsors, and most importantly our chase crew for helping us tackle this monstrous race.
Fellow BC racers, MGC Motorsports from Cache Creek BC.
After months of prepping, CVM Motorsports is geared up to take on the track. Here, the team is at the start of PRO UTV Class.
Spectators during the event.
Fellow BC racers, MGC Motorsports from Cache Creek BC.
Enjoying a little R&R following the race.
The race-ready 2016 Yamaha YXZ 1000R.
The crew at the finish line.