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.

4WDrive - - Contents - WORDS BY CVM MO­TOR­SPORTS

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.

Vol­ume 20/1

En­joy­ing a lit­tle R&R fol­low­ing the race.

The race-ready 2016 Yamaha YXZ 1000R.

The crew at the fin­ish line.

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