The line up at the start of the race for Class 3 had 9 starters, but by the end of the 1,296 mile journey, only 2 survived to claim a finish. The 40th Baja 1000 was one of the roughest courses in years and it proved to be a challenge for the Team Donahoe/Nitto Tires/ KC Hilites
Team Donahoe’s journey began on Tuesday, November 13 at 12:39pm. This is when the Toyota FJ left the line in
Dylan Evans and Trevor Meeker took the FJ off the line at 12:39 pm. Their section was extremely rough and consumed more fuel than estimated. Because of this
the FJ ran out of fuel at race mile (rm) 196. The Team Donahoe chase crew came to the rescue on the course with 5 gallons of fuel and some locals had a bucket of fuel for the drivers as well. With the splash of fuel the FJ safely made it to its scheduled fuel stop and had a rough but trouble free run to Catavina where the FJ was handed off to Team Donahoe owner, Kreg Donahoe. The truck was into Catavina later than expected, but Kreg and long time co-driver Bob Bower were up to the task of making up for lost time. They sped out of the Baja Pits and were off into the night. Their section was the fastest of the 4 sections Team Donahoe had split the driving duties into and they were able to increase the average miles per hour by 13 mph. With a flawless run, Kreg handed the FJ off to Brady Helm and Pete Swift in San Ignacio. With the FJ running out of fuel early in the race, the chase teams made a change in the fuel strategy by dumping fuel before scheduled fuel stops. Brady went one further and told Kreg that there was a change in pit location. Instead of the driver’s change happening at the Baja Pits in San Ignacio – they were going to happen at the Pemex station in town. Kreg couldn’t stop laughing at the site he saw as he pulled in for his drivers change. Brady and Pete all suited up ready to go and a Pemex attendant at the ready, pump in hand waiting for Kreg to come in. As the gas station attendant fueled the FJ, (which runs on pump gas) the driving teams did a once over on the truck and changed places. From there Brady and Pete were off for their run to Insurgentes. Half way through Brady’s run he started noticing problems with fuel delivery. The problems plagued the truck all the way into the driver’s change in Insurgentes when Steve Krieger and Rob Hendrix got in the FJ for the final leg of the race. They had to stop several times to try and fix the fuel problem on the course. Finally at Santa Rita the entire chase crew caught up with the FJ now leading the race and began to asses the problem with the truck. Just as they were working on it, Current Class 3 Champion, Donald Moss who had been behind Team Donahoe, was coming into Santa Rita. The plans were changed and as Moss passed the pit, Team Donahoe was making the last quick
adjustments to the FJ back out on the course. The FJ left the pit 5 minutes behind Moss. Within minutes the deft driving of Steve and easy maneuverability of the bone stock V6 FJ, took back the lead from V8 powered Bronco of Moss. Team Donahoe thought we were home free for the finish and then the dreaded call came in. FJ was in trouble again. Moss regained the lead and the FJ needed to come in. The chase crews met the truck at Todos Santos. There we opted to take apart the fuel cell and found that the filter in the fuel cell was completely clogged. Once that was discarded; the FJ was sent on its way for a flawless run to the finish line. As Team Donahoe crossed the line at Thursday, November 15 at 6:27am for a second place finish, the entire Moss Bros team was waiting for us to congratulate us on our championship and for having been the 1st ones to break their streak in 5 years.
This race served as a test of more than will of Team Donahoe as well. We were testing the prototypes for the new KC Hilites 70 watt HID Pods. Taken out of the boxes for the first time and bolted onto the FJ, Team Donahoe turned the lights on at the start line and left them on for the duration of the race to see how they performed over 1296 miles and 41 hours of use and abuse. The lights never failed. They were on at the start line and were on at the finish line. They were so bright that the drivers felt like they were driving during the day. The spread of the light was perfect for the conditions in which they ran.
We were also testing the Donahoe Racing FJ Suspension system. The Baja 1000 is a great test for any suspension system and with the different and difficult terrain encountered on this course; the FJ’s suspension went through the ultimate test. During the 1st section it was so rough that it took out 25% of the field before rm 215. Donahoe Racing’s suspension had a problem free race and once again proved that Donahoe Racing suspension systems are Baja proven and championship worthy.
The Team Donahoe/Nitto Tire/KC HiLites FJ Cruiser had no flats on our off-the shelf Nitto Terra Grappler All Terrains. The tires that were on the truck at the start line were the same set on the truck at the finish line.
Baja Racing News.com