74 WINTER 2016/17
s BJ Baldwin gets his race face on for
the 49th SCORE Baja 1000, he pauses
for a few moments in front of the sun
bleached Riviera del Pacifico Cultural
Center, a well-worn landmark in hustling,
bustling Ensenada, Mexico.
Sitting quietly in his 6,100lb Toyota
Trophy Truck (a $750,000 beast that sits
benignly enough now, but you just know
is psychotically looking forward to trying
to rip itself apart in just a short time),
Baldwin grabs his cell phone and types up
a Facebook post for 370,000-plus friends
out there in cyberspace.
The mayhem starts in 112 minutes.
We’ve done everything we can to prepare
for this #Baja1000 mentally, physically,
and mechanically. My team and I have
been looking forward to this day since
last December. I feel great, Rampage is
running great and my team is on point.
We are excited for our opportunity to
win our third Baja 1000. To my fellow
competitors, I wish you a safe race,
especially our motorcycle competitors.
Alright, time to get ready. This is the part
where you wish us good luck.
Las Vegas, Nevada’s “Ballistic” BJ
Baldwin has been racing Trophy Trucks on
the Baja California peninsula since 2003.
He won the 1000 back-to-back in
2012-’ 13 – both times driving the whole
course himself, “Ironman”-style – and he
wants nothing more than to win it again.
And so it’s race day, Friday, Nov. 18, south
of the border, and Baldwin mulls the
daunting task that lies ahead.
“I’m the only driver to Ironman and win it
two years in a row in the Trophy Truck, and
I want another win more than anything,”
he says. “That’s not any exaggeration – I
do want it more than anything.”
Planning for the 2016 race is
something Baldwin and his tight-knit
team have been working on since driving
back over the border into California and
home to Las Vegas after last year’s 1000.
Not all Baja 1000s are 1000 miles, and
the 2016 race is an 850-mile, Ensenada to
Ensenada loop, but the logistics of keeping
a race truck fueled, serviced and watched
over in the barren, beautiful Baja
wilderness is as complex as ever. Swelling
the numbers on the ground, Baldwin’s
support runs to 30 team members, eight
chase and refueling trucks, a helicopter
and a fixed wing aircraft.
“Mentally, this race is a perpetual thing,”
says Baldwin. “I don’t really ever stop
thinking about it, and none of my crew guys
do either. It’s so important that we do well
here that we’re constantly thinking about
how we can improve the plan.”
Making the truck faster, more
bullet-proof; preparing for the expected,
and trying to second-guess the
unexpected. Learning from your
mistakes. Nobody ever goes to the Baja
1000 completely confident they’ve got
everything covered – that would be
foolish – but putting the work in, covering
off the details, having a Plan B, C and D,
all help to move the needle from
impossible to, just maybe, possible.
“This is the only one race everyone is
As well as back-to-back Baja 1000
wins in 2012-’ 13
– both times driving
every mile himself,
– BJ Baldwin is
Silt beds are just some of the hazards
on the Baja 1000. For an experienced
racer like BJ Baldwin, knowing when
to push hard and when to ease back
is key to making it to the finish.