"There is everything from big boulders that have rolled over to logs buried in the dirt by spectators. Spectators can be a real problem. They love to see you wipe out." Welling already conquered one form of motor sports, winning multiple world championships in offshore powerboat racing and setting the world speed record numerous times during a 15-year career.
But now Welling has turned his attention to a new challenge -- land. Welling invited his brother-in-law, Phil Speet of Holland, to run the Baja 1000 with him last year, and after winning the Class 14 sportsman division, they decided to take a run at it again this year. It is a milestone year for the off-road race, which takes place in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The race first was run in 1967, so this marks the 40th anniversary of the event. It begins in Ensenada, Mexico, on Nov. 13, and the race takes drivers from one end of the Baja Peninsula to the other, concluding more than 1,269 miles away in Cabo San Lucas, located in the tip of the Baja California Peninsula.
Look for Speet and Welling to make the jump up to Class 1 this year and square off against as many as 30 other vehicles. They will be racing a V-10 powered Ilmor Viper, which was designed by Andy Prins of Spectrum Sand Sports, located at 4195 Blue Star Highway in Holland.
Speet jokingly said he wouldn't be surprised if they got an offer for their car once the race was over. "The army might want it when we are done," Speet said. "It's built like a Hummer. It's powerful and built to take abuse. It can run upside down." Welling and Speet already brought the car out to the desert for a trial run in October, and they scheduled a second test session for this weekend. Drivers have a 53-hour time limit to complete the race, but Welling said they are hoping to cross the finish line in the 24- to 27-hour range. "It's a very durable race car," Welling said. "You have to have a car that not only has the ability to win, but it has to finish."