Saturday, November 03, 2007

Lucas and Todd NHRA Diablo Class 1 Baja 1000

Lucas and Todd to team up for Baja 1000 off-road race

NHRA Top Fuel racers Morgan Lucas and J.R. Todd will team up with John Spar and Ed Hullinger to compete in the legendary SCORE Baja 1000 driving the Lucas Oil/Torco Race Fuels Class 1 Diablo off-road vehicle in a grueling trophy dash over Mother Nature's toughest territory. This will be the first venture in the classic race for both drivers and their anticipation is only exceeded by their desire to perform well in the event. Earlier this week, the tandem headed to Barstow, Calif., to participate in some practice runs and get acquainted with the car and the feel of the rough terrain. This year marks the 40th annual running of the Baja 1000. This year's race will cover nearly 1,300 miles of the roughest most unforgiving terrain the famous Mexican desert has to offer. The race will start in downtown Ensenada on the morning of Nov. 13 and runs non-stop through the mountains, sand washes, coastlines, and towns to the finish line at the tip of the Baja peninsula in Cabo San Lucas.

Lucas and Todd's involvement started when John Spar, formally of B&M Racing, asked them to join him in the race. Spar has competed for many years on a motorcycle but had signed on to drive a state-of-the-art 2008 Penhall Class 1 Diablo for Hullinger Motorsports, which is based in Southern California. Spar discussed the concept of doing some crossover marketing with some of his NHRA comrades. Hullinger agreed and the team was set. Lucas and Todd have since had time to get in the car for some prerace testing. Following the final race in Pomona the entire team will undergo hundreds of miles of testing and many hours of strategic race planning and driver education for the brutal race. The team is going to split the driving duties between Hullinger, Lucas, Todd and Spar to keep the driver fresh and focused during the 30-plus hours of competition.

"John really handled it right," Lucas said. "He gave us a couple of tidbits leading up to more information. Ed and the guys on the team really took care of us. They were patient with our learning curve and it went pretty smooth once we got there. When we first arrived, John took us on a ride and showed us the potential of the vehicle. He showed us how to drive, how to approach certain landscape, and how to be aggressive. He also showed us what to watch for on the surface and to keep an eye on the big rocks on the course. "There are a lot of variables that you don't have to worry about in drag racing. With the way we were shown, you have a lot different respect for the race and what you're driving. We started slow and steadily increased our progression of how to drive to match the circumstances. We know when we go to Mexico everything will be different. You never know what you will find going over a jump. You have to be ready for just about anything."

Todd didn't ever think a drag racing career would lead him to this racing excursion but he probably thought the same thing when his friend Lucas asked him to participate in the Bodine Bobsled Challenge last year, pitting the young NHRA talents against some of NASCAR's finest on the Lake Placid Bobsled Course. "I've seen the Baja 1000 on television plenty of times and always thought it would be cool to drive an off-road truck," Todd said. "Morgan and I were fortunate to be able to go out on Tuesday and drive a truck in Barstow. It was so much fun; it's hard to put it into words. We're looking forward to heading down to Mexico to compete. Hopefully we'll come out in one piece along with the truck and who knows; maybe we'll get a top-five finish. My main goal is to go out and complete the race and have some fun. It will be quite the experience. I'm sure that I will be talking about it for many years to come.”
Lucas and Todd will be tackling the first stanza of the race, tearing out of Ensenada for the first 200 miles before handing over control to Spar and Hullinger.

"I'll be driving first leg and there will five driver changes throughout the race," Lucas said. "We get to be the ones driving by all the people when we're leaving town. Our big worry is to not to stall the car at the start and be sure not to hit anything. Once we get going, that should be a milestone in itself. "Spar and Hullinger will be driving at night. I've watched this race numerous years on television and have heard the stories of the pitfalls and antics some people will do. Being the 40th anniversary of the race means just that much more for me. It's going to be nationally televised. We're all competitive and we all want to race hard, but honestly, we want to have fun and who knows if we'll get a chance to race in the 50th Baja 1000.” The Hullinger Motorsports team and car will be wearing the Lucas Oil and Torco Race Fuels colors.

Baja Racing