Good morning race fans! The 2017 Baja 500 is underway, motorcycles are storming the course and the fastest four-wheeled vehicles will be following close behind soon enough. We leave the starting line around mid-day. Meanwhile, here’s where to keep tabs on the action live.
SCORE, the sanctioning body that runs the Baja 500 and a few other major off-road events you might have heard of, is running a livestream right on its homepage where you’ll be able to see vehicles start, possibly catch a few interviews and maybe hear some mid-race commentary.
A separate live GPS tracking site is up too, where you can track specific vehicles and/or see how the whole field’s spread out.
We’re here to do some coverage of our own in conjunction with the El Rey Network. That TV channel, which is corporately related to Jalopnik, is doing a major TV shoot for a special about the whole race that will air in a few months. Simultaneously, they’re filming my team and myself to give you a better taste of what it’s like to put a racing program together and go up against giants (literally, Honda and Toyota are in our class somehow).
I’m navigating for a couple hundred miles or so with the Desert Race School team, which is owned and operated by my friend Ron Stobaugh, his son Austin and Canadian money man Mike Jams. Jams is relatively new to the off-road racing scene—his first Baja adventure was the 2015 Baja 1000 in which I also did a bit of navigating. Stobaugh’s our life-timer teaching us some moves and helping us pick safe taco stands.
We’ll be in a Class 7 truck, specifically No. 722, which you can keep an eye on with that live tracking site I mentioned earlier.
Class 7 is not particularly restrictive. Vehicles are rear-drive and generally look like pickup trucks, but there’s a big range of engines and configurations in this event. Honda’s 550-horsepower purpose-built Ridgeline, Toyota’s basically-stock Tacoma, and our EcoTec-powered three-speed are somehow racing directly against each other.
Maybe later I’ll able to figure out, and pass along, why things shook out that way. But I have a bad habit of not asking enough questions when I get offered a seat in a Baja car. I have to remember to get further than “Where do I meet you?” and “Can I borrow a helmet?”
We’re probably off the line at around 11 a.m. Pacific. Wish us luck!