The famed Baja 1000 off-road race has commenced. The motorcycles and quads took off this morning with a series of shotgun starts, and trucks and buggies began their trip into the desert early in the afternoon.
The Baja race is arguably one of the most famous offroad races in the world, and it's special for a few reasons. It's one of the few major races where two-wheelers and four wheelers are neck-and-neck in terms of finishing times, and several classes of vehicles are all competing simultaneously. Booby-trapping and sabotage are common problems racers face, often installed by locals for entertainment (rather than malice). Riders and drivers compete on roads open to the public as well as off-road desert sections. The word "chaos" comes to mind.
Traditionally leaving from Ensenada, Mexico, motorcycles and quads start off first, beginning at 6:30 a.m., spaced at 30-second intervals. Because of this, riders often trade places in the race. They're followed closely by the automobiles, and due to the roughness of the terrain, motorcycles, quads, trophy trucks, Baja Bugs, and truggies all can wind up swapping places, making for an entertaining and highly exciting race.
A grueling test of riders, drivers, and machines, the Baja is a race that truly sorts out rider wheat from wanna-be chaff. This year's race runs 1,130 miles to La Paz, Mexico, and finish times for the fastest vehicles should be well under the 24-hour mark. Taking stops into consideration, coupled with the treacherous terrain and difficult nighttime passage, it's easy to see how this race is repsonsible for so many broken parts, broken dreams, and broken riders.
The race is on, and live coverage of the event is available at the Southern California Off Road Experience website. Be patient. The servers appear to be crushed at times. Meanwhile, here's a promo video to get you in the mood.