47TH TECATE SCORE BAJA 1000
through the windshield, in preparation
for the next launch or impact.
But there’s only so much you can do.
Imagine having each limb strapped to a
different paint-mixer, your neck stretched
as if Manny Pacquiao keeps catching you
on the jaw with uppercuts, your torso
expanded then compressed accordion-like, and then this three-man mosh-pit set
inside a fighter pilot’s flight simulator.
The Tundra TRD Pro was better
prepared for all of this than I was, but had
been through only 210 miles of testing
prior to heading to Mexico. The fact that
Bestwick handed it to us intact and leading
the class was not only a credit to his and
starting driver Bell’s driving skills, but it
also said much about the integrity of the
truck. A puncture for Bell, then an
electrical glitch that had left Bestwick
with only rear-wheel drive for part of his
stint (run mostly in the dark), were
problems that had been swiftly solved.
Our only issue was a wrong turn we
took on the beach at El Datil, which sent
us axle-deep into a silt/sand mixture soon
after high tide. Ryan laid down one of the
spare wheels to use as a firm base from
which to jack up the rear and alleviate the
load, Mark and I broke off branches from
bushes to wedge under the tires to
provide traction, and a local armed with a
truck, firm ground and a tow rope pulled.
The incident cost us no more than 20
minutes – not enough to lose us the lead.
In fact, such was Ryan’s pace that he’d
actually extended the gap to our nearest rival
from 42 to 49 miles when we pulled into the
BFG pit and handed over to Ted Moncure.
Ted kept it all together. A brush with a
silt-locked buggy less than 100 miles from
the finish at La Paz left the Tundra with a
bent door and a jagged tear down its left
flank – “Like it’s had a fight with Godzilla!”
As our battle-scarred machine nosed
up the finish ramp in La Paz at 2 a.m.,
35h40m40s after it had taken the start
(to average 36.11mph), my memory was
fogged by sleep deprivation (I’d managed
two hours during the previous 43, as we’d
been driving photo chase trucks throughout)
and relief that the TRD Pro team had scored
victory on the Tundra’s Baja debut. Two
days and a 1,000-mile drive home later,
mental snapshots returned with clarity…
and contained a major surprise.
Being a glutton for speed, at the time I’d
most enjoyed the fast, less technical stages
that saw Ryan drift the Tundra through
turns at 60mph or hurtle along beaches at
105. Yet the part that left me incredulous
was achieved 100mph slower than that.
As we went to cross a river for the
Bestwick enters the
spirit of the event
with his Mexican
But when things got
serious, he drove one
heck of a second
stint, even when
stuck in two-wheel
WHEN IN MEXICO…