Chasing the 43rd SCORE Baja 1000 – The Final Chapter

May 13th, 2011 by admin

Baja stories don’t end with the checkered flag. We’d won, but we were still 1200 miles from home and exhausted.

We’d made arrangements for a hotel in La Paz. The problem was that we finished the race eight hours ahead of our projected finish time and our hotel rooms were not yet available. We finally stumbled upon a large field next to the Hotel Marina in La Paz. There were numerous race and chase vehicles parked in the field. We pulled in and went to the office to see if they had any rooms, but they didn’t.

It was now 3am Saturday morning, the crew had been going for 40+ hours, and we were done. We made the call to crash in/under/on the chase trucks in the field and hope for the best. Machelle was still in some pain and we were technically trespassing/squatting on private property in a foreign country. Machelle couldn’t sleep from worry that we were going to wake up to the sounds of the local police’s handcuffs.

At first light we all got up. Shortly after, other race crews came out of the hotel and began coming into the field. We now felt somewhat secure that we weren’t going to get thrown out or arrested as there was no way for hotel staff to know who was who. We went to the hotel office to try and secure some rooms for Saturday night. The desk man said we’d have to check back around noon.

One of the teams getting their rigs ready for the trip home was Cameron Steele’s. Scott struck up a conversation with a couple of the crew. They told Scott they were done with their room, the door was still open, and we could at least go take showers. Our crew started cycling through that room, getting somewhat refreshed. After a bit, Cameron Steele came out to the field and Scott started talking to him about our predicament.

Cameron didn’t hesitate to offer a fix for us. He had three rooms that were already paid for that his crew wasn’t going to use for Saturday. He gave them to Scott without asking for a single thing in return! He assured Scott that we deserved it for our accomplishment.

I’ve never heard anything but good things about Cameron Steele and the Desert Assassin’s crew. Here was evidence of that right in front of me. We took him up on the rooms. We owe Cameron and the DA in a big way – thanks again!

The crew was famished. Thankfully, there was a breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant. I’m sure they lost money after serving our group.

Larry McRae needed to head home. After breakfast, we reluctantly said our goodbyes to Larry and his co-dog, Don. We enjoyed a cocktail or two and then hopped a cab down to the awards ceremony location.

When it was finally our turn, the whole team went up on the podium. What a moment, Baja Champions!

We ate some dinner, went back to our rooms, and passed out with smiles on our faces.

The crew decided that we would get up at 4am to head out of La Paz for the long drive home. We actually pulled that one off. We were fueled up and out of town by 5am. Our early intention had been to iron man the drive home, but we decided to drive 24 hours and make one more planned stop: the Big Burro Taco Shop in Ensenada. We had a flag to return. We asked some locals if it was disrespectful if we signed the flag, but they assured us it would be OK considering the circumstances. The whole team signed it.

We got into Ensenada in the late afternoon after a long day’s travel and went straight to the Big Burro. Irena and her daughters saw us roll up and their faces lit up, glad to see us again. The look on the family members’ faces when the Hartmans gave the flag back was priceless. One of the girls went a few blocks up to get their dad from his hot dog stand to come see us. The old man was so proud of that flag. Immediately, a hammer and nails were out and the flag was proudly displayed on the wall of the Big Burro Taco Shop.

We’ll be back to borrow that flag for a day or two again next year!

We left Ensenada with our bellies full of the best cooking in Baja, smiles on our faces, and a little swelling in our hearts knowing that we had set out on a mission and completed it, letting nothing get in the way of our goal. Sure, we had some squabbles among the crew here and there along the way, but we all had a common goal and worked together to get there.

Viva Dust Junkies Racing! Viva Fat City Racing!

Viva Baja!

P.S. Machelle went to the doctor. Apparently, she’s been battling a kidney stone through all of this.

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One Response to “Chasing the 43rd SCORE Baja 1000 – The Final Chapter”

  1. Man after my heart. I don’t envy you, been there, done that. An 18 year desert racing vet. So just keep it up, you will miss it when it is all over.
    But your memories will live for ever.

    Long live the off roader!

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