Chuck Shortt fired up "Dust to Glory" on DVD and ended up watching it five times in the course of one night. Within a week he was putting together a team to compete in the Baja 1000, the subject of the movie. This is how obsession is born.
The Baja 1000 is reportedly the longest non-stop point-to-point race in the world. It is held each autumn in Mexico, on the Baja Peninsula, and features around 1,000 teams racing motorcycles, trucks, old-style Volkswagens, custom-built open-class vehicles, and more. All race on the same course at the same time. Locals and regular traffic also share the roads. This is no closed-course event.
The race always starts at Ensenada and for two years the course will run down to La Paz, in the south of the Baja. Then, the next two years, the course will be a loop that ends back in Ensenada. The race in 2009, set for Nov. 19-22, is the second year for the loop. The course will head east from Ensenada to the east coast of the Baja, back to the west coast, and then return to Ensenada, crossing two mountain ranges in the process. Some of the roads are no more than goat trails.
Chuck Shortt will be riding that loop this year.
Chuck's team, Rsenal Racing, will consist of himself and two other riders, Jim Kuykendall and Dale Branson. Nine other team members will provide support in the endeavor.
Chuck's experience as a racer goes back to when he was 19, when he started doing motocross. In the 1980s he road-raced on a Kawasaki Ninja 600 but then he was badly injured in a crash in 1999. After a couple years healing, he bought another bike and dove right back in.
Jim has also been racing for about 30 years, and has relevant experience that includes placing third in the 1995 Rally of the Desert, which is a 1,000-mile race across the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Dale's racing career began in the 1970s and he has run many motocross and enduro races with numerous podium finishes.
The three riders will trade off riding a 2008 Yamaha YZ450WR outfitted with a larger, 4-gallon gas tank, a rebuilt exhaust, and cartridge-kitted front forks, all painstakingly tested and tuned for the riders. Conveniently, all three riders weigh within 5 pounds of each other. A high-intensity discharge (HID) headlight will be attached during the race for the night-time portion of the run.
There is no qualifying for the Baja 1000. Anyone who wants to enter can do so. For most, the challenge is simply to finish.
"Are you fit and capable of going 1,000 miles? That's your biggest qualifying factor," says Chuck.
"Winning is finishing," he adds. "Anything over that is a bonus."
That said, the Rsenal Racing team is shooting to finish in the top 10 percent in their class. In future articles we'll be following the team as they prepare and ultimately put their months of work and planning to the test in the Baja. Stay tuned.Baja Racing News.com