So what’s it like to be hammer
down, racing an 850hp, 140mph
Trophy Truck, with 30-plus inches
of suspension travel, into the great
unknown of the Baja 1000 course?
“It’s a lot like road racing, or rally
racing in certain areas,” says BJ
Baldwin. “But then again, if you have
200 miles of rough at Baja, it’s like a
car crash that lasts for five hours.
There’s nothing better than driving a
Trophy Truck. I mean, short of getting
to fly an F- 22 Raptor and bombing
the s*** out of the bad guys, I don’t
think there’d be anything cooler.
“The thing I love about Baja is
that it’s unlike any other
competitive event in the world, in
the sense that it’s in the harshest
environment possible for any
vehicle. We never see the same
corner twice, and we only get one
chance to do every turn perfect,
every jump perfect, and make sure
we don’t hit tens of thousands of
rocks and boulders and go flying
off several hundred cliffs...”
And like virtually every other
form of serious motorsport, Trophy
Truck racing can be something of
a money-burning contest.
“The Trophy Truck costs about
$750,000 to build and then it’s
probably another $300,000 for
research and development
throughout the year.
“Running costs for a Trophy
Truck program for an entire year is
about $1.2 million. But, you know,
they are incredibly strong vehicles.
If you were able to equate it to a
very strong diesel truck that you
could buy off the showroom floor,
the Trophy Truck is probably
Trophy Trucks are designed for one
purpose only – to take on the toughest
terrain imaginable, as fast as possible.
was a combination of things. I have a key
pad that controls all of the electronics in
my truck and it locked and it broke, so I
had all of my lights on. That’s not a bad
thing unless you’re passing people. But if
you’re passing people and you’re in the
dust, it’s really, really difficult because the
light magnifies the dust.
“I was dealing with that and I was behind
a motorcycle. I slowed down, and from the
pre-running, I remembered where I was at,
despite being in the midst of blinding dust
without being able to turn my primary
lights off and run my amber lights, which
are kind of similar to a fog light.
“Anyway, I tried to get around the
motorcycle in this blinding dust and I flew
off the road, launched off a small cliff, and
landed into a boulder that probably
weighed 30,000lbs –the size of a very
large SUV, solid granite. It smashed the
truck. It stretched the motor mounts,
smashed the chassis all the way up to
the dashboard, and smashed the front
suspension in. I took damage in the form
of a concussion, compressed vertebrae
and some bruised ribs, and I had slurred
speech for about two hours.”
So, relative to previous experience,
just how hard was the hit?
“It was, by far, the hardest hit I’ve ever
taken,” he shrugs. “We’re not racing
around a little dirt track. It’s us against
the world, in the harshest environment
possible, trying to go as fast as possible.
Sometimes you beat Baja and sometimes
“Sometimes you beat Baja
and sometimes Baja beats
you. It’s very treacherous,
but it’s what I like to do”
Baja beats you. It’s very treacherous, very
challenging, but it’s what I like to do. I like
to challenge myself.”
Undaunted and already thinking about
the 50th running of the Baja 1000 this
coming November, Baldwin’s put 2016
out of his mind. For him, it’s only the next
one that matters now.
“I was thinking about Baja 25 years
ago,” he says. “I’m thinking about it now. I
never stop thinking about it. I know I love
this sport more than anyone else, and I
see that as an advantage for me. It’s
easier to do the things I do because I’m
so passionate about it.
“We only have about 360-some days
left before the next one, and already I’m
getting excited about it.”
(ABOVE) Doing it
most Baja 1000
crews, BJ Baldwin
drives the whole race
distance himself. So
far, that “Ironman”
brought two wins.