Autopsy: Baja 500

by spike.com   July 02, 2009 at 2:23PM  |  Views: 1,222

The first word that comes to mind: Brutal. The Baja 500 is one of the most treacherous forms of racing and it has all the elements necessary to attract Jesse James to risk his ass for a chance to take bragging rights on the second oldest desert race.

He has been there before and knows what it takes. Planned, prepped, and ready, Jesse will pilot his Trophy Truck through some of the most unforgiving territory. With a shade more than 50% of the 400 entries finishing the race, Jesse will have his hands tied as he squares off against Mother Nature, Baja racing legends, multi-time winners, and those hungry to take a stab at winning one of Desert Racing’s biggest crowns.

Since 1969, the Baja 500 has been formally run on, around, or near Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It has taken its share of vehicles, bystanders, and even a driver or two’s lives. Every year the danger factor increases, so do the number of people vying to finish the race, and so too do the number of spectators. Pedestrians line the course barely giving enough room for vehicles to come flying by at 60mph or more begging the question: “Who is crazier; the persons watching the race, or the racers themselves? Amidst some of the toughest terrain imaginable, a poorly marked course, a navigation system, and Jesse’s keen sense of mental toughness, will be all he will have to finish the course, let alone a shot at victory.

While there are several racing classes, by far, the Trophy Truck division, started in 1994, is this sport’s racing jewel. It is an open class division with trucks boasting 900 horsepower engines on tricked-out dune buggy type vehicles loaded with features, including some serious suspension to handle the difficult road or lack thereof. Of course, this is Jesse’s division. And what better way is there to test his driving skills than pushing the limits on a 440 mile course with tough terrain, huge boulders, crazy people, wandering animals, knocked-down trees, dangerous cliffs, thick cloudy dirt, watery creeks, and a host of other hidden truck munchers?

The terrain may be the least of his worries as he will reach speeds of 100mph and have to use all of his senses to narrow his focus, be prepared to react to just about anything, and make split second decisions to avoid a crash, or worse. The danger involved in this kind of racing cannot be overemphasized. Sure there are guys who routinely run off road and try crazy stunts. But try to keep cool and run fast for 9 straight hours with continual pounding and not only will your body take a serious beating but your mind will want out after the first 15 minutes! One wrong move and the race is over. While there are rules, they are few and far between, and over so many miles with just a few markings here and there, Jesse will be in for the ride of his life.

THE DAILY FOUR

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