Next month over 120 cars, trucks and motorcycles are leaving from Los Angeles to start the inaugural “Baja 4000.” Not a race, but almost 3,000 miles of adventure driving and little challenges this band of lunatics will try to complete in 10 days.
The Baja 4000 is completely unlike the Baja 1000 or 500 off-road races, which are extremely fast-paced endurance sprints revolving solely around who can cross the finish line first. No, this event is more like a marathon of problem-solving via navigation challenges.
This event is the brainchild of Andrew G. Szabo, who founded the similar Budapest-Bamako amateur rally that takes place in Europe. The event website puts the Baja 4000's total distance at 4,700 kilometers, or 2,970 miles, neither of which are “4,000” so I’m not sure why that number made it into the name but it’s probably not something we need to get too worked up about.
“Unlike the Baja 1000, the Baja 4000 is an eco rally, where organizers have also set two half days aside for teams to go whale and nature watching in the UN World Heritage sites of Bahia De Los Angeles and Guerrero Negro. On some of the days teams can collect points for picking up garbage and cleaning up Baja wilderness,” organizers explain in a press release.
So you get the idea– it’s more about the adventure than the arrival time. In fact it’s not about arrival time at all, since any official “timing” would make it a race and increase safety requirements significantly.
But speaking of requirements, there are very few. “As long as it’s street legal, you can enter” is the ethos of the trip. Total costs are estimated at a few thousand dollars, which you can split between your crew. Or, if you qualify for the “Spirt Class” with an exceptionally unsuited vehicle you could get your entry fees waived and only have to worry about your fuel and food. And of course, getting home in whatever demo-derby jalopy you’re subjecting yourself to sit in for ten days.
The rally leaves from Los Angeles on January 13th, gets to Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of the Baja peninsula on the 18th and ends up back in LA on the 22nd. At least, whoever finishes does.
It kind of feels like a slow, filthy version of the Gumball Rally. I really wish I was brave enough to send my Scout on this adventure, but frankly I haven’t saved up quite enough money to cover a multi-thousand mile tow home yet.