I’m leaving in just a few hours for Mexico, where I’ll be part of Wide Open Baja’s team to run in the 50th anniversary Baja 1000. To say I’m woefully underqualified and unprepared would be the highest compliment you could give me. I’m a bit nervous, since I was unable to make it out to prerun the course, and have never done any off-roading of this level. I was also told that I’d need a catheter to so I can urinate while I’m driving, which makes exactly one thing I feel prepared to do.
Wide Open Baja gives normal-ish people the chance to actually drive in the race, but they also have real drivers as part of the team to go along and help. I’ll be partnered with Mark Stahl, a man who won the Baja 1000 back in 1978 and 1980, drove NASCAR, and was a stunt driver, meaning our team will be something like if NASA decided to send John Glenn up in his Mercury capsule with one of the monkeys they’d been using for test flights.
The car I’ll be in looks to be a hell of a lot of fun to drive: it’s a Baja Challenge car, which is sort of like an old Volkswagen Type I-based buggy modernized and steroided all to hell. It’s still powered by a rear-mounted flat-four, but this one is a Subaru making 175 horsepower, and it’s on a custom chromoly chassis with incredibly beefy, super-long-travel suspension. It’s a beast. If anything goes wrong, I can’t blame the equipment.
Well, maybe I can blame the catheter.
I’ll be running an 8-hour, 121-mile stretch at the end of the race. If anyone’s out there, feel free to say hello, somehow? I’m expecting the actual race to be grueling and very challenging. Recently, a did some short stretches in a fantastic Class 11 Beetle (more on that soon) and it was exhausting. That doesn’t bode well.
The scale of undertaking this race is staggering. There’s small Cessna airplanes to take the drivers to their driver change points, convoys of pit crews and equipment, and an insane amount of planning.
I’m already confused and I just hope I can stay out of everyone’s way and not embarass myself any moreso than normal, and get a good story here. I’ll be trying to film an episode of Jason Drives with just the mounted cameras or whatever’s around, so we’ll see how that goes.
This’ll be exciting, no matter what. I’ll try my best to convey to you what it’s like, the experience, the deep insecurity, the racing, the struggle, and, yes, the peeing.
Wish me luck.