One of the toughest tests of physical endurance and driving talent on the planet, the Baja 1000 is the last place you'd expect to find a European fop with a penchant for jaunty scarfs. But, late last year, that's just what Transcontinental-record holder Alex Roy did. The race is so tough Roy pissed himself.
Alex entered the race as the navigator for long-time Jalopnik buddy and fellow European plutocrat Michael "Skiny" Power. The Mexican race marked the launch of their new project, the Gentleman's Guide To Racing, a series of shows and books dedicated to living the most exciting races on the planet. Next, they're off to Targa New Zealand, all in an effort to make such far-off races accesible to mere mortals, like that rich guy you and I are friends with.
This article has been delayed due to a hostage situation, which saw the video footage you see here held ransom south of the border. It took a trip back to Baja and a fistfull of greenbacks to finally bring you definitive video proof that Alex made good use of his pee tube.
Shortly after his return, we sat down with Skiny to trade tall tales and make fun of our mutual friend Alex.
"I didn't have a lot of respect for Alex when this first started," explains Skiny, who first encountered the fake policeman on the Gumball Rally years ago. "From a distance, I thought he was an idiot. But, compared to all the fat nippled, heavily cologned Gumball racers, he was enjoying himself and he was fast."
"For his audition, we went to to Barstow in our 16 car," continues the world's most economically-challenged playboy. "I told him to wear something appropriate and he turned up wearing a Cuban wedding shirt. But, once were in the car, we got up to about 80 MPH and hit a bunch of whoops. Quite surprisingly, he started laughing so hard that it was infectious. The two of us blew out the sound levels on our recording device. I knew if he could enjoy himself that much, that we had to train him to become a navigator."
"Five days before the race, we stopped for some tacos before pre-run," continues Skiny over a conspicuously empty place setting at a Mexican restaurant. "Then, the next three days were like dysentery on a pirate ship. Our photographer vomited at least 100 times. To think I've got to come from that, to the fittest I've ever been in my life and the most focussed I've ever been to race this race, that was hard."
Below is Skiny's retelling of events.
"They interviewed us before the race and asked, ‘Are you frightened?' I don't think I've ever seen a car racer honestly answer that question. We were totally scared. What you fear is obviously failure, crashing in the first three miles, getting hit from behind, getting knocked off by some super aggressive guys."
"Driving the first 100 miles of the Baja, it was like a slaughterhouse. There were cars upside down and cars just stuck everywhere. Obviously we didn't stop for them, so, when we got stuck in a silt bed, we didn't expect anyone to stop for us. And they didn't. I think we chose one of the least gentlemanly races to begin with. Baja is the anus of motor racing."
"Once we took off, not for a second did my attention go to anything other than what's the next turn, what's the next turn. Mile marker 490 to 600 is this super fast section on top of exposed cliffs. I've got some rally experience, so I thought this is maybe where I can make up some time. All the guys in the media center were watching us, car 1607, these two little guys. Apparently we got through there 30 minutes faster than anyone else, with 500 foot cliffs around every turn. And Alex, just like a little Scottish co-pilot, going, ‘Left 4 over crest, tightens into...' the real shit. Out of every co-driver on the Baja, he was probably in the car longer than anyone, and that's amazing. A guy from New York City, who had only been camping once in his life in somebody's garden in The Hamptons. Cut from that to Skiny cooking dinner with a bowie knife and sleeping in a race trailer in the desert."
"As we approached the last 50 miles of the race, both of us went into total shutdown. All I could hear from Alex, every time we hit a bump, which was about four times a second, was, ‘Oof, ugh, oof.' I asked him if he was ok and he kept saying just, ‘Yes, keep going,' until finally he was like, ‘We have to stop the car, I'm going to shit myself.' But we were racing, we couldn't. The clutch was making a funny noise, we were freezing and we were sweating at the same time. I was throwing up and reswallowing my own puke, like every two minutes. Alex had to turn his intercom down because my retching was so loud. When I jumped out at the end, they filmed me puke like 10 times. It was harder than I thought possible."
"If you go story to story on the GGTR website, you'll be able to do the Baja without anyone's help. We'll tell you how to buy the best race trailer, the right ball hitch, where to look for a great race truck, how much all that shit costs. Ultimately, this should end up as a series of coffee table books and a show."
Despite his curious sartorial choices, Skiny now gets Roy's driver.
"I have a ton of respect for Alex Roy now. I didn't think he was going to be as good or as tough as he was. But to be tough in the context of the Baja 1000? To finish it? That's fucking tough."
Photography credit: Zach Benge