What it’s like to fjord multiple water crossings, change all the flat tires, and pee on your sleeve while racing in Baja as part of a team

Story by Emme Hall

I have to write a story about my experience for Roadshow and even a week and a half out from the Baja 1000, I have no idea how I am going to do it. I’ve done a lot of off-roading, from the Gazelle Rally in Morocco to the Mint 400 in Las Vegas to the upcoming annual Rage at the River in Laughlin, NV. I know what it’s like to race, but I had never been a part of such a large team until now.

I navigated for Josh from the start to San Felipe and then again from San Ignacio to just north of Loreto. Our first stint didn’t have many problems, unless you count:

  1. After waiting in staging for over an hour, the actual start came up so quickly I didn’t have my harness buckled. I got it just in time but that was NOT the way I wanted to start.
  2. We pulled over to ask a spectator if our tire was okay. I yelled out in Spanish, “Is the tire okay?” and he yelled back, “There is no tire.”
  3. Tope lost power due to a mangled ignition switch. Fixed it.
  4. We pulled over to change another flat in what seemed to be a cactus field.
  5. I peed on my sleeve.

Our second stint went pretty well too, unless you think the following are issues:

  1. A water crossing where cold river water came into the car through the windshield opening.
  2. Getting pulled out of the silt by a local in a Hummer and really having no idea where he was towing us to.
  3. Moving rocks to make a path Tope could climb after a water crossing.
  4. Scouting a path for Tope up a steep and sandy slope after yet another water crossing.
  5. Two flat tires at the same time. We drove on a driver front flat for 7 miles before we could reach chase.
  6. I peed on my sleeve.

Tope’s capabilities are really impressive. There were times where I thought, “Oh, there is no way we are getting through this,” and Tope proved me wrong every single time. The motor ran strong the entire time and the transmission never blew up. Yay!

More impressive, however, is the total cooperation of the team. It’s very easy to give up, fall into chaos and arguments, but every single person on the team had the same goal. We were going to get 1137 over the finish line and Matt Wilson would drive it over that finish line.

Were we hungry, tired and smelly? Well, I smelled like a rose, as always but yes, we were. Would it have been easier to quit when we passed the time limit? Hell, yeah! I was ready for a fish taco and a beer for sure! Still, we all kept going, pushing through our physical and mental limits to see that damn bug at the finish line.

And I think every single one of us is stronger for doing so.