THE LURE OF BAJA
It could be the natural beauty, much
of it unspoiled and untouched by
man. It could be those amazing
fish tacos from little stands on the
corner. Most of the racers, though,
will tell you that it’s the people who
make Baja California so special.
“I think the landscape and how
beautiful it is down here plays a
part, and the people of Baja – how
respectful they are, and how they
embrace us to come into their
country and race our off-road trucks
down here,” says Red Bull/KMC Pro
2 and Pro 4 driver Bryce Menzies of
what draws him to Baja. “They love
to see our sport. There have been
thousands of people walking around
on Friday, coming up for autographs.
You just don’t see that back in the
U.S. It’s cool to see them as excited
Lucas Oil/General Tire Pro 2
and Pro 4 driver Carl Renezeder
described the fans as being like kids
at Christmas, the most excited he’s
ever seen, and Monster Energy/Toyo
Tires Pro 4 racer Kyle LeDuc agreed.
“They’re not afraid to ask you for
your autograph,” he says. “They want
you to hold their babies, take pictures,
sign skin…it’s pretty unique. They’re
a lot more die-hard down here. The
stands are packed, and every time
there’s a crash, or someone pulls off
a pass, or something crazy happens,
the fans get so vocal. They’re like a
soccer crowd. I think being in Mexico
is amazing, and a good step for the
Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.”
BAJA CALIFORNIA LOVES OFF-ROAD RACING, AND THE GUYS
WHO RACE THERE LOVE I T BACK.
(ABOVE) The fans
packing out the
stands made for an
Menzies kicks up the
sand in Pro 2. The
conditions were an
from the wannabes – and the deterioration
of the track led to the series cutting all
races to 10 laps. Sometimes even that
wasn’t enough; Saturday’s Pro Lite race was
red flagged to fill a hole that sent Sheldon
Creed’s truck flipping and ended his day.
But it didn’t bother the fans. They were
loving every minute of it. With every pass,
every crash, the grandstands shook with
the crowd’s roar. When Brock Heger rolled,
landed on his wheels and continued in
Saturday’s Pro Lite race, the crowd
seemed ready to spontaneously combust.
It’s that kind of enthusiasm that draws
people such as Hector Ponce to volunteer
to be a translator for the teams – most of
the Pro 4 and Pro 2 pits had one to help
fans understand the sport and to be able
to ask questions. But, stationed with Greg
adler’s 4 Wheel Parts team, Ponce wasn’t
The Baja peninsula is a hotbed of off-road
racing, thanks to the Baja 1000 (BELOW).
Now, LOORRS is bringing the thrills, too.
content to stand around and talk.
“I started volunteering at a couple of
SCORE races in 2013,” he explained in
between sessions of scraping mud off
adler’s Pro 4. “I’m from Ensenada.
Everybody loves off road here. It’s the first
time I’ve seen the Lucas Oil Series live, and
I do this for love. I love off road, and I’m
here helping the guys – translating,
That’s the sort of thing that makes
those involved in bringing LOORRS to
Ensenada happy. Rodrigo ampudia, Sr.,
father of the Papas & Beer Pro 2 racer and
owner of the local bars of the same name,
was the key figure, along with Steve and
Bryce Menzies and the Novellos, owners of
Estero Beach Resort, who made it happen.
“What a dream,” ampudia enthused.
“It’s a dream to show all the fans here in
Baja what we’ve been living for the last
six years. It’s a really cool atmosphere and
we love it. The fans didn’t know what they
were going to experience. Now they’re
going around the pits really enjoying it.
I think we’re going to develop a new
breed of fans, a new breed of stars here
in Baja – the stars of short course.”
The sand played havoc with trucks and
the racing. The roost – which double
Pro 4 winner Kyle LeDuc said was like
someone throwing shovelfuls of sand in
your face – made visibility an issue. The
ruts and holes made racing difficult –
more than one wag in the paddock said
RODRIGO AMPUDIA, SR.
“It’s a dream to show all
the fans here in Baja what
we’ve been living for the
past six years”