Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mark Post, Baja Badass, Saved by Off Road Racing

Baja Racing News EXCLUSIVE

"Do I have a story for you!", the local Cabeno told me. "It's about Money, Land and Racing!", he continued. My source is one of Cabo's 'Loco Miguels'.
A few years ago the Cabeno saw an advertisement in the local paper, a large chunk of San Jose del Cabo coast, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. So, I got some of the details about the parcel, it was on sale right at the time the coastal properties were going like hotcakes. Room rates were up and local room construction in the area, was lagging.
To my amazement, the price was right! Far below real value. I suddenly remembered my friend, who, awhile ago, after a social at an east cape hotel, was going to fly his new plane off of the hotels strip. There is a long history of local ranch owners and visitors flying after 'a social'. That's how the Buena Vista resort was sold off. Herb Tansey had too many rum & cokes one day with a friend at his resort. And flying against my advise, he crashed, killing himself and a friend. The resort was sold off later. Too bad, great location, world famous resort, gone.
Yes, I recalled that afternoon when that American was about to fly off the strip, over the Sea of Cortez, then off to parts elsewhere. When I thought about the hotel owner of the strip, saying very clearly, "someday someone is going to kill themselves on my strip and I'll have to close my air-strip. One of the last open airstrips for Americans to fly their private planes to, in Mexico. Just like in Baja's glory days, when Desi Arnaz, Bing Crosby, John Wayne and many others frequented the cape of Baja California.
Bing Crosby, in particular, frequented one ranch to go 'dune buggying' with his daughter to look for local fossils and tool around the local environs. The Hollywood elite loved the Cape, Cabo. The fishing, the hunting and they could live freely. No FBI microphones. Never underestimate how badly the big movie stars needed to 'get out of the country', to get away from J. Edgar Hoovers tape recording efforts in the late fifties and throughout the sixties.
The resort owner complained about it often. Many small mishaps over the years made the resort owner wonder, when will it happen. The resort had been open since the early sixties. Well the American revved his engines, it was his new plane, and was heading down the runway, when a local Mexican truck barrelled right into the path of the plane. The accident was horrible, the plane with all its forward energy would have been totally destroyed, if the cement wall at the far-end of the runway would have been finished. A classic Mexican wall. Not finished.
No matter, no-one would be able to walk away from that accident.
The plane tore off the roof of the truck, crumpled itself in the corner of the airstrip, dead and smoking. We ran to the plane, to do what we could. When, to our amazement, the American flying the plane, stepped out of it like a movie star!
He survived! Walked away! Later that day the strip was closed forever, to be made into a golf course. The resort owner exclaimed for years, it finally happened, someone should have been killed, luckily they were OK, "that guy had more money than brains", he said on many occasions, recalling the day. The resort owner told me that story several times over the course of our friendship. Never recalling the name of the American pilot who closed his strip down. After hearing the whole story, maybe the truth is 'more luck'....
That's the guy who later bought the land on the beach in San Jose that I suggested, he's building a huge resort that'll open this winter, he got a steal of deal and dammit, "I never got the commission amount I should have"! As I listened to the Cabeno, he later asked who won the race to Cabo this year. The Baja race came to Cabo this year, only for the second time in its history. I told him the name of the sponsor and he made nothing of it. But, when I mentioned the name of the driver of record, the cabenos eyes glowed and his tale took on a whole new life.
A name to the old story of the American whose accident closed the resort airstrip, once and for all. After many tellings of the same story without a name.
The pilot of the crashed plane and the buyer of the prime beach land was Mark Post!
When asked about this tale in Cabo, on a warm afternoon in Mexico, on the beach at the office, after Mark won this years Baja 1000. The 40th running of the race. I asked Mark, he smiled brightly, shook my hand strong like a Baja cowboy and said, "Yes, that's me, off-road saved me, off-road racing saved me". He moved off into the crowd of Herbsts, Baldwins and Gordons and the like, to enjoy his Baja 1000 victory with friends.
The same guy with the handcuffs in the last Baja 250, 'Above The Law'!

The "Above The Law", Black Champion of 2007, Riviera Racing's, Mark Post.