We did a pre-run of the first 20 miles of the racecourse and then came back to town. We noticed during our pre-run that the truck was smoking a bit out of the exhaust. We checked the oil level and found that we were burning oil at a pretty high rate, around 5 quarts for every 50 miles. We did the math and figured we may need up to 105 quarts of oil throughout the race if it didn't get any worse. Normally we run synthetic oil, but if we were going to burn over 25 gallons of oil, we didn't want to use expensive oil. We bought 25 gallons of a thicker oil and distributed the oil among the different chase trucks that would be helping us along the way.
Race day: we got to the starting area around 10 am. We weren't scheduled to start until 11:30, so we were able to get out of the truck, sign some autographs, pose for some pictures and basically just enjoy being able to walk around... we planned on sitting in the truck for the next 20 -24 hours.
The start was good, the truck smoked a lot, but it ran very well. We made our way through Ensenada without any trouble. In the first 30 miles, we had passed one truck and felt like we were running a pretty good pace. In Ojos Negros, we stopped at our pit to have them check the oil. They added 1 gallon and sent us on our way. The next 35 miles were pretty good, a lot of twisty terrain with some rocky areas. (During the Baja 500, this was the section where we got our first flat tire). We made it to our next pit on the highway at km77 and they added another gallon of oil and topped off the gas tank.
The rest of the race is really kind of a blur in my memory. There was a really rough section of the race course south of San Felipe. After going through the rough stuff, our rear shocks were pretty much worn out. We had to take it easy through any big bumps after that.
Somewhere near Coco's Corner, I don't remember if it was before or after (my memory sucks as far as locations on the course), we were in a wash with a lot of water. After hitting a few of the puddles, our radio quit working, we had to turn it off because it was screaming in our ears.
At each pit location, the guys checked the oil and usually added a gallon or two to bring it up to the proper level. At mile 555, the guys told us we were also starting to lose gear oil out of the pinion seal. The next section was going to be about 170 miles without a pit, so they gave me a gallon of oil and a gallon of gear oil to hold on to in case we needed it.
Around mile 670 or 680, we started to lose oil pressure on the engine. This was a sign that our oil level was getting low. We stopped and I added the gallon of oil that I was holding. It wasn't enough, so I pulled out a gallon of oil that we had tied up behind one of the spare tires. That brought our oil level back to normal.
We got to our next pit, they added more oil, gave me another gallon to hold on to and did a scheduled tire change in the rear. Within 50 miles or so, we got our first and only flat tire of the race. We were very surprised we had made it that far without a flat tire. Back in March, at the San Felipe Baja 250, we got 5 flats during the 242 mile race. We got out to change the tire and had trouble getting one lug nut off with our electric impact wrench. We carry a manual wrench just for this reason, but when I went to get it out of its mount, it was gone. It must have shaken loose somewhere over the last 700 miles or so. I tried an old trick where I took the socket and put it on the lug nut and hit it with a hammer. I'm not sure exactly what this does, but I have seen it work and it worked in this case too. I was able to take the lug nut off with the impact wrench. I finished changing the tire and we got going again.
Around 5am, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. You would think that in an off-road race, it would be so bumpy that there's no way you could fall asleep, but I was. I told Rob [Rob Bruce, the driver] that he had better find a place to pull over so I could walk around a bit and wake up. He was in pretty much the same situation with trying to stay awake, so we pulled off the course and took a few minutes to walk around, have a snack bar and try to wake up. A few minutes of walking did the trick, we were back in the truck and feeling pretty good.
At 6:30 or 7am we hit fog, a really dense, wet fog. It was very tough to keep the shields on our helmets clear enough to see the course. I think we were in the fog for close to 2 hours.
As we got closer to the finish, I started to get tired again. I started to get distracted, thinking about how good it was going to feel to go to sleep in a nice bed, to eat some good food...
I was distracted to the point I wasn't telling Rob about sharp corners coming up. Luckily, none of them were too dangerous. We didn't fly over any cliffs or hit any big rocks. I could tell that Rob was getting tired again too, because when I wasn't distracted, I called out a few sharp corners and he didn't slow down for them.
We got to the finish around 10:30am, roughly 23 hours after starting the race. Getting out of the truck, both of us had wobbly legs. It felt great to finish such a challenging race, but now we just wanted to find a hotel and grab a shower and go to sleep.
1061 miles, 23 hours, one flat tire, 12 to 15 gallons of engine oil, one broken light, one lost lug wrench, one great accomplishment.
15th place Trophy Truck
26th place overall 4 wheeled vehicle
Credits: Team BMF Racing - for more video footage visit the BMF Racing Team YouTube Chanel. For more Offroad videos visit Offroad Tube