To appreciate the most beautiful things in life in the most sterile of lands; to become one with the desert; to find courage in a hostile and lonely place; to cross winding trails, rocky mountains and the edges of dangerous canyons, are not for everybody and courage is definitely needed. If you wish to do all the above at a breakneck speed, testing how quick and accurate your reactions and vision are, then all you need is a powerful all terrain vehicle and then enroll yourself in the wild cross-country Baja 1000 off-road race.
The Baja 1000 is a race through the desert of Baja California, Mexico. It has officially taken place since 1967 and originally consisted of a desert route from Tijuana to La Paz, the length of the whole peninsula! Nowadays, it starts in Ensenada, northern Baja and consists of a 70-mile course to the south of the peninsula. The race takes place every year and is held during the month of November, usually just before Thanksgiving.
In order to drive at high speeds through the desert and end up alive, a special off-road vehicle is required and quite often a converted Volkswagen Beetle is used, known as a 'Baja Bug'. The conventional bodywork of the cars is modified and roll cages added to protect the driver in case of an accident. Then the engines are souped up and specially designed suspension systems are fitted. Since most of the race action takes place at night and there is not always a bright full moon, the cars are fitted with numerous high-power halogen lights. The famous 'Baja Bugs' are not the only type of vehicle competitors enter into the race. Light trucks, other models of cars, dune buggies and motorcycles are all adapted by their owners to be a part of this exciting adventure.
Obviously in order to participate in an event like this, a huge financial investment is required, not to mention the amount of time that has to be dedicated to perform the modifications and maintenance required on the cars. The same can be said of the necessary training and exploration of the terrain, the essential assistance of a team of expert mechanics and finally, the ability to travel all the way to Ensenada and back with all the equipment.
On your next vacation to Baja California, don't miss out on the opportunity of exploring the desert in an off road vehicle, because you might be able to find and follow the tracks of the intrepid and brave drivers who run the Baja 1000 off-road race. One thing is for sure, you'll definitely enjoy seeing the stunning landscape, the beautiful flowers that grow on the cacti, as well as coyotes, squirrels and many other creatures that coexist in this complex ecosystem. Without a doubt, the feeling of freedom that the immensity of the desert transmits to every inch of the body and mind, explains why men and women of all ages vie to cross this solitary land, no matter what they have to go through, or what the cost is.
Baja 1000: Tracks on the desert
- Miguel Ángel Hernández