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Friday, November 23, 2007

JeepSpeed 1705 Mike Shaffer Baja 1000 Report

Successful Shaffer Off Road Baja 1000

Last year we went down to the the Baja 1000 with no prerun time in and most of the drivers and co drivers never race before, AND WE WON! But could we go back and do it again?

Well this year Dave and I started off the line at 12:40 on Tuesday there were four cars in are class and we started 2nd.

By race mile 3 we had cought the 1749 car and he pulled to the side and let us pass, at about race mile 15 we where passed by the 1733 car and he was moving! well time to step it up I said to Dave, he said GET IT! we started passing a lot of trucks! I mean ALOT!!!.

We hit race mile 55 in no time at all and we see the class 3 FJ up ahead and we were working hard to catch him. I wanted to see if my straight axled old station wagon could catch the Donohoe FJ, and sure enough, we caught them like they were parked! After passing them, we realized we had made alot of time up on the 1733 car and we were in the windy section around RM65, so we passed them back, after that they stayed planted right onto our rear bumper until we got into a whoop section, we were able to put a few car lengths on them, but were still able to see them in our mirrors. We hit the highway for approx a mile at RM77, and shortly after we hit the road, a support truck pulled out infront of the 1733, so we gained another half mile or so in the short section of highway, but of course we NEVER broke 60 mph right before check point 1 which was roughly at RM85 we hit a nasty booby trap, and right after that we pulled over to let the 1733 pass again as he was right on our bumper. We cleared Check point 1, and continued on for about another mile or so, and we came to a spot in the course where there was some confusion. the GPS said go right, the course markers said to go left. We followed our GPS and about another mile or so and all the sudded at 65mph and we lost complete control of our rig. After nearly rolling twice as the rig shot off the race course, Dave jumped out to look at the steering, to find that the steering box sector shaft had snapped in half. We had noticed after the booby trap that the steering wheel was a little crooked but really didn't put much thought into it until now. The good news was, we knew we had 2 chase trucks with a steering box in them, the bad news was, both chase trucks were over 100 miles away, and neither chase truck's satelite phone was working properly. Lucky for us, we had the Shaffers Offroad JK within radio range, and they quickly started checking in Valle De T for a steering box before cutting across to the West side Jeremy and Dan in the JK headed to get one from Chase1 which was waiting on Highway 1. They blazed down a section of race course used in the Baja 500 to meet up with Chase1. Once they got to the meeting point, they called our sat phone and informed us it would be at least another 2 hours before they could get to our location with all the needed parts.

Meanwhile a team in an FJ80 stopped by to say hi and see how we were doing, along with the guy's from Camuburg in there Tundra, and a bit later even the Peak Empire guy's stopped by to see if we had any hot dogs... After 4 hours went by sitting out there broke, I started to get pretty bummed out, and thinking our race was over at RM89. I made a phone call to our other teammate Camo to inform him of our situation, and he reminded me that the race had just begun, and to cheer up, he also informed me that if he was in my shoes he'd go out behind a cactus and "rub one off" because it would add to what a great story it would be to tell afterwards. While it wasn't really the cheering up i was looking for, it did the job. After 5 hours of down time Chase JK finally appeard out of the dark Mexico desert. We had already pulled the steering box off, done a bolt check on the Jeep, and with about 15min of time to re-install the new box, we were off and running.

With very little time to get to check point 2, since we were just past check point 1, and it had closed an hour ago, we pushed the Jeep as hard as it would run all the way to BFG Pit 2, where our chase crews did a check on the rig, fueled quickly, and off the che check point, which was only 100 yards or so up the course.

After check point 2 is where the race actually started to get interesting. by this time it was 2am, with very little sleep the 2 nights before the race I was exhausted. I don't really know how else to explain this, other than i fell asleep behind the wheel at least 10 different times!!!! Driving off the course was only one of the problems with me being this tired, i was also driving extremly slow, so realizing the safest thing to do would be to put Dave in the drivers seat, even though he had never driven the jeep! We switched places and were off and running, oh did I mention i HATE co-riding? I kept telling Dave to slow down for about the first 3 miles, and he kept reminding me we were only going 25mph! I guess I fell asleep for a while after that for a while, only to be woken to Dave screaming like a bitch as he drives off a cliff at around RM268. Once he got the vehicle stopped on the side of the mountain he had just driven off, I got out to find that the trac bar had broken, most likely due to the booby trap we had hit the night before. We got the truck situated to where we could safely change the trac bar, and before Dave could get out of the Jeep I had thrown him the tool bag and spare trac bar, and hiked off to find a place to clean my shorts!

About 15 min later we were up and running again, I was back in the drivers seat seeing as we had around 50 miles to go, and just over an hour to do it in, I told Dave "Ding Ding, Schools in Bitch!", he didn't respond, I figured if I drove fast enough to scare myself i wouldn't fall asleep! That and the sun was starting to come up, so that was nice. We got the car to check point 3 with 15 min to spare, and finished the last 12 miles into BFG3 where we were going to do our first driver change. It was nice to see Inviting faces at Pit 3, they all seemed to be cheering us on.

Once the dust had settled and Jeff had taken off, I realized that Chase JK was no where to be seen, we started doing some relay's and found that there was a major accident on highway 1 that they had gotten stuck behind, and had tried to find an alternate route around it, putting them a few hours behind us. Jeff's section was going relativly quick, each time we would make it to an area where we would see him, he was only minuites behind us. It looked liked things were definatly looking up, and Jeff was making up time on all the check points. Eventually we got the BFG Pit 6 where Jeff would had the Jeep off to Camo, and we litterally only beat Jeff there by 15min, Camo was completly fired up and ready to go! When we arrived at that pit, we were under the impression that the 1734 was our of the race due to blown up front shocks early on, we later found out they had OUR spares on and were over 100 miles ahead of us!!!

Once they were off and running, we made another sat phone call to the JK to find out where they were, they were about an hour out, so we decided to wait for them to arrive since the JK was in need of some trac bar attention. Once they got in, we got it fixed quickly and we were back on the road chasing Camo down. We made a phone call to Larry to Pirate Chase HQ back in the US to find out where Camo was and how we were doing, at that point we found out Lance would not be getting into the Jeep at his assigned checkpoint because he was to beat up from co riding over 1000 miles of the race with Pistol Pete. After a few minuites of looking at a map at a Pemex, we quickly realized that we were not going to make the next driver change as Camo was running 68mph avg on course and we couldn't safely run over 70mph on the highway with truck traffic and other chase crews. So we decided to meet up with them at the following BFG pit, approx 100 miles down the course.

We arrived at BFG Pit 9 where Camo was going to get out of the Jeep after over 450miles in the drivers seat, and where I was going to get back in to finish the race with Jeremy co-riding with me. the 1734 Jeep blew by just as we had arrived, they were definatly hauling ass! After we made another sat phone call we found out our Jeep was 60 miles out, I tried to get a quick 30 min nap is since I had gone 2 day's without any sleep other than the few minuites I had gotten in the Jeep the night before. Camo pulled in and he kept asking if I was sure if I wanted to get in, and that he was willing to run the rest of the race, I quickly told him he was loco if he thought he was going to get to have all the fun, besides he drove it onto the podium last year! While looking the car over before we took off, we notice the drivers front wheel bearing was wasted, we decided to RUN IT! the wheel was cambered out about 10 degrees and we had no brakes because of the wasted wheel bearing.

We pulled out of the pit and ran it as hard as we could trying to catch the 1734. We quickly got into the deep silt beds weaving our way through them without any problems at all. but I sure was happy we had installed an ARB in the front diff before the race! Right after the silt beds we were cruising along down along the beach and noticed we were both getting a slight spray of coolant onto our visors, the gauge showed we were running a cool 195 degrees, so we knew we had another issue. We saw a Honda pit that looked like they were just starting to pack up there gear to head out, we pulled in, and Jeremy jumped out and got there assistance in removing the cooling fan that had gone into the radiator, and pinching off all of the damaged cores. After about 20 min we were back on the road, minus the mechanical cooling fan, not long after that we came into a whooped out wash when we saw the 1734, I was completly in shock! we quickly came up behind them to give them a little bump to let them know we were there, then pulled up beside them and switched our radio's to there channel to see what there deal was and why they were going so slow. They had replided that they broke there rear shock mounts off, and at about the same moment we saw there rear shocks hanging out the back windows bouncing up and down. We continued on to the next BFG Pit, where Jeremy jumped out and Camo Jumped in, to continue on the last 150 miles to the finish. About RM 1200 we got a call on the radio that we would be chased all the way to the finish on course by Pistol Pete in his backup trophy truck. Shortly after we were coming around a corner and I noticed a Trophy Truck in the rear veiw, and this is probably the one and only time i didn't think to myself "Oh Fuck!" from there on we basically kept a nice comfortable pace trying to keep the engine temp down, but trying to not let the 1734 gain any ground back on us, all the way to the finish.

If I had to pick one moment in the race that stands out in my mind as the best part of the race for me, was coming down the mountains into Cabo, with the ocean out in front of us, and a Trophy Truck in the rear veiw, knowing we had made it!

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