Nick explains what it’s like to deal with the immersive power of the great equalizer of the peninsula
Story by Nick Wilson
“Silt is for real…” is what I was muttering under my helmeted breath, sweating buckets while I jacked the rear of the car up for the third time this stick. The process goes something like this:
- Jack up the rear of the car to lift it out of the silt
- Fill in the trenches that were made in the process of getting stuck with more silt
- Place MAXTRAX traction panel ramps under the rear wheels
- Careful application of throttle
- Repeat if necessary
It had been dark for some time now and the clearance lights at the rear of the car flashed through the ethereal cloud of Mexican minerals. My brother Matt and I had been in the car for about 10 and a half hours at this point, well past the cut off. We weren’t done, not by a long shot. I stacked the MAXTRAX under our BFG All Terrains and slammed a gloved hand on the roof of Tope to signal to Matt to make an attempt. He needed to gain enough momentum for the blue and white VW Beetle to plow through the three foot deep silt bed for about 100 yards around a right hand corner to freedom. Matt grabbed the shifter and pushed it into first gear, with his foot on the brake revving the engine. He dropped the clutch and Tope sprung free from the flour like consistency of the silt. I watched as the bug made slow but steady progress out of the hole she had dug and oozed over the silt bed at a painful pace, engine howling, lights flashing, shooting a rooster tail from the rear wheels, front wheels plowing furrows, front skid plate acting like the hull of a boat, pushing a wake of powder.
I gathered up all the supplies and trotted after the little German sedan that was patiently waiting around the corner on firmer ground. I place the jack back into its mount in the rear of the car, reinstalled the MAXTRAX and open the passenger door with a good yank. I folded myself back into the racing bucket seat, strapping myself into the five point harness. Plugging in the air supply from the Parker Pumper breathing system into my helmet is my first real taste of relief, moving filtered air! I scramble to find the end of the wire that will link the Rugged Radio to my helmet. Finally I locate the wire and make the connection, “1137 Race to 1137 Chase, we got unstuck at race mile 1010 and are running a-ok.” We’re off, to La Paz, one way or another we are going to get this car to the finish line. The glitz and glam is all gone by this time of night, no one will be there except for the amazing group of people who refused to quit, no matter how sleep deprived. We need to get the car to La Paz! We need to get Tope to the finish line!
Stories of moments in the race are a dime a dozen, when I dip into the memories that were made on the peninsula over those days, over the millions of possible things to say, it is hard to convey the feeling of such an experience. The Baja 1000 experience is broken up into alternating highs and lows with dust, bad singing over the helmet radio and speed in between. The feeling of Baja for me always comes back to respect. Respect the desert, the distance, and the people. My respect for the other participants and in particular my crew knows no bounds. I am incredibly honored that I was even able to join this amazing group of folks on this amazing journey. I am even more honored that I was able to join my brother in completing this 50th running of the Baja 1000. I cannot say enough of the Project Baja team, I respect and regard this group of people with the highest esteem.
Thank you all for allowing me to participate in this amazing experience.