Blanco Diamonte and the Flahertys share their story of running a BF Goodrich Radio Relay station and recovering Tope multiple times
Story by Blanco Diamonte
Us Flahertys from Colorado have been going to the Baja 1000 for many years working Radio Communications for BFGoodrich as Relay 14- Kristen and 14.5-Erin. We got lucky and met Project Baja in 2014 as they prepared for their first Baja 1000. Learning that they were back at it and being practically neighbors offered Support any way we could. We wanted them to not only race the 1000 again, but to cross that finish line. We worked our Relay station in Loreto RM 740- La Purisma RM 890 – Cuidad Insurgentes from Thursday 1700 hrs – Saturday 13:00 hrs Race time. We use a E-150, 5 speed, 4×4 as our Remote Communications Vehicle. Her name is Blanco Diamante. Purpose built for these events, but never to the capacity of what was in store…. Our Baja 1000 started when…
We met up with Evan at this swanky little house in San Diego. Exchanged info. Changed a Wheel bearing….woops, better now! then departed for Mexico. We had a job to do. Monday morning, Southbound through Tecate and into Ensenada. Off to another swanky little casa the rest of Project Baja team was at. Gather up additional team logistics, then head Southbound on Hwy 1 to Loreto.
Saturday morning, Project Baja gets to Loreto. It is then (just completed 42 hours of working Race Traffic) that we are able to meet up with Canyonero and Gold Chase by that afternoon. Gina instructs us to take the transmission, spare tire, and alternator, (can’t forget that awesome bag of trail mix) go to Race Mile 1050 and wait for the Race Car..
Stationed between a couple of ranches at dusk, the goats and the cows start coming home, Crying out, bells around their necks jinglin, walking a slow pace, backwards, up the race course… Now we hear a car and see the bright headlights aglow in the distance. “1137 Race- Race Mile 1050, Running”
“1137 Race, Blanco copies Race Mile 1050.. We are pit on the right side, about half a mile down”. Woohoo our first Tope sighting…
“Blanco, we are stuck.. Can you retrieve”
“Blanco copies, We are loading up and on our way”. (In all circumstances during the race, You must never ever, go backwards, against race traffic. Except the Race timed out. It was no longer an active Race Course. The roads are back open to all traffic. so..)
We show up and Nick already has the “Custom” tow rope ready to latch on. Slight tug. Tope is out and moving. She just needed a nudge. The rancher too, was ready in his little Toyota pickup ready to give a hand.
Tope traveling along gets buried again. But this time its in a deep, silt sweeping Right turn. Two other race cars stuck, and a tractor helping them. Wilson fortunately guided us in and directed us over to the left side of the berm. Placing us on the top side of the berm, by about three feet of them. This was the deepest silt that we have ever had Blanco in. Tied up Tope and tugging we will go. and a tug, “hold on…there be some deep ruts. “Holy toledo.” We can’t stop, or we will sink.” Oh, and by the way… we don’t know where we are going, so you need to guide us.” And for a distance we traveled. Through an incredible narrow cactus swallowing road being guided by the words of Wilson through the radio. Go left, 500 yards ahead,right, as we travel through silty woops the Size of a small child. No place to stop to let the car pass. So we continued on. Stretched the ol’ suspenders a tid bit too… Silt, silt, deep, silt.rough, hole, silt, …. towing, what felt like a mile… finally a place to stop, unhook, then let them go ahead of us, only to discover they can’t go forward, HUGE drop off. Small cliff. They must back up, to where the road V’s and take the right line. Then we learn NO REVERSE. Are you kidding me. OK I’ll push. Thankfully I didn’t have to. Wilson opted to drive off a “small” drop off and continued on. I mean Tope took off. Blanco was eating Topes dust all the way out to access road at Race Mile 1070.
Finally, we meet up with the chase team at the access road. And discover that we may have dropped the tailpipe somewhere along the way. Nope, it’s still attached and dangling… Nothing a few hose clamps can’t fix. Continued on to our next location.
We continue to our next directed location. Once again we are called to go up course to retrieve the Race Car. We started driving towards Tope. Except this time. Tope did not need our help. The Wilson brothers got Tope unstuck. Good job. Blanco, on the other hand was not as fortunate. Blanco quickly got buried up to the rocker panel. 4 low— no go, just deeper. Front drivers side, no earth below it. Rear tires both, Buried…. Start digging. Find rocks for Front tire, (Do you know how hard it is to find rocks in a silt bed?????) Place carpet under Rear Tires, along with some shrubbery, and away we go…. Pit the car, one last time… Do some last minute TLC to Tope, and head to the Finish Line. Saturday very late, almost …. , Just not Sunday…
Ya Baby! 50th BAJA 1000 FINISHERS!
Seeing that little car cross the finish line, was quite the sight to see. And they were not the last Race car to finish. One other car managed to pull off the last finisher award. Tope was amazing. You should have just seen the sparkle in her eye. All in one piece. In all her Glory. The 50th Baja 1000 was just conquered by the Project Baja team and one amazing VW. Fortunate to have been included in this grand adventure and to see a Class 11 cross that finish line.