Words By Justin Shultz:
I wish I could sit here and tell you how awesome the race ended for us but unfortunately, that’s not how the story ends. Sadly, after seeing the decision that Score handed out to us, I feel much different about the event and organization that runs it. While this will go down in the memory bank just as much as it was to win the 50th Baja 1000 last year, this year will have a much deeper impact on us as a team. While our main goal coming into the 1000 was to remain the 30+ Pro moto class champions for a 3rd year in a row, it’s likely that Score will have the last laugh in crushing those dreams. Score issued us a DNF for this race for losing the Stella Tracker at RM510 after one of our guys hit a booby trap which caused serious damage to our bike. While Mexico is a truly majestic place to race, it can be equally dangerous with some locals trying to get a kick or video of someone wrecking. Even after the wreck, we kept battling with Ryan literally pushing the bike across the finish line (https://www.instagram.com/p/BqSM1MLhIVV/) for what we believed was a 2nd in class and enough points to win the title. Our plan almost worked perfectly, and below is how the day went.
Ryan Lined up with the other 75 or so bikes and quads ready to take on Baja. Since we had won the last race in TJ, we had the 1st starting position of the (9) Pro 30+ Moto bikes. Being the 14th bike off the line we started at 4:18am. Ryan did exactly what we talked about doing, using our Baja Designs Dual XL’s lights and getting into the top 10 so we could ride in some clear air. He rode a fantastic first 100 miles and handed Greg Bardonexx off the bike in the 8th overall position and first in class. With roughly a 5 min lead on the next bike in our class, Greg rode roughly 50 miles around the famous Mike’s Loop which consist of fast roads and sketchy corners. Not a lot of guys like going almost 100 mph on roads but that’s what Greg likes to do and did does it with ease, so Greg was our guy. He handed the bike off to our Baja Rookie (Rowan Trefz) who was racing for his first time in this series. Rowan put the hammer down and rode the whoops and rock washes of San Felipe to perfection. About this time, most of the team was just waking up. It was a delight to wake up around 6:30 am to find out we had a nice lead around the 200 mile mark. We set off to Catavina to wait for the bike, which is tough because of the lack of communication that is available that far down. Meanwhile , Greg and Rowan swapped again in San Felipe and then Rowan finished out the bike to RM380. As we sat at RM380 we were hearing he had a decent lead in our class and running somewhere around 7th overall. After the first 6 Open Pro bikes went by we waited patiently (Wink Wink) for Rowan to show up. This is where we had a planned tire change by Tuner and company. All set up and ready to go, our plan was to just do a rear wheel and once over on the bike. Since we use Goldentyres and Nitro Mousses, we knew we only needed to change the rear wheel. As Rowan approached, everyone was ready to jump into action. Andrew (Fast Andy) Puckett was geared up and ready to take on the roughest part of the entire course, the Catavina loop.
As Rowan pulls in, Tuner (TBT racing) throws the bike on the stand, does a quick rear wheel change and gives the once over. With everything looking good, Andy jumps on bike and off he goes. At this point, we are about 20 mins behind the next Pro bike but we know Andy is going to crush this section. While we wait for next bike, everyone else packs up and starts the trek to the next pit at RM480. After nearly 15 mins, the next bike comes through. Knowing Andy has a gap we hurried to the next pit to let him know we have a big lead and keep it on two wheels. This is where disaster is about to strike. After a quick gas break at 480 and a bigger time gap on everyone, Andy hit’s 2 lines of rocks piled 2ft tall that were laid out across a giant silt bed sending him flying through the air and the bike cart wheeling behind him. Once he gained his breathe and realized he was okay, he picked up the bike and tried to figure out how to get it going again. While it was at a much slower pace, he was able to get going and get it through Mag Pit 9. As we saw the 6th bike come by us, we knew it wasn’t long until Andy would arrive. Then we got a call from the Mag pit saying Andy wrecked and that there was no handguard, front light, and the that bike was damaged. Here is where the team behind you really makes a difference. Tuner/Bill/Cordis/Rowan/Mike/Gina and my dad starting getting the parts we thought we needed to make sure we could fix the bike. When Andy finally arrived, about 20 mins later than we expected he jumped off and the team went to work. The bike had major damage! The front end was bent to hell, the light was basically blown into 5 pieces, and the Stella Tracker was gone. Not knowing where it had gone, we radioed into wheatherman to let them know the bike was found, the tracker was gone and we wished to continue on once the bike was fixed. As the bike was being repaired, I sat in anticipation as I know we still had the championship to worry about, and that today was not going to be the day with win the 51st Baja 1000. After a couple bikes go by, we see our 1st class competitor go by and my heart sinks a little more. The guys got the bike good enough to ride within 15 mins of the 333x going by. I jump on the bike and hopped on the hwy to sort out the bike and head for the dirt. About three miles into my section, the bike starts popping and quitting on me. I pull over to the side and grab the satellite phone to start calling everyone. Ryan was the first one to pick up so I tell him what happened and that the bike may be dead. I told him I’d I start pushing it back to the road and hopefully he can get someone on the radio or Sat phone and have them meet me there. After sitting on the side of the course a couple of mins the bike fires up so I trek through bushes on the side of the course back 3 miles to the dirt the team is pulling back into and we go to work to try and figure it out, then we notice the side cover on the stator side is leaking oil, and has a crack in it so we pull the spare bike out and throw both of them on the ground and swap out stators and covers hoping this will solve our problem, well the bike fired back up and the lights worked, but when I went up the street it stopped popping right away, right there I knew it was the Fuel pump, I had one go out on my Yamaha in 2011 and it was acting the same way. So we laid the bike on the ground and nice young guy with a Yellow vest helped jump into action and he and Tuner got the pump out and we replaced it in about 15 mins. The bike fired and wasn’t popping, So I knew I could now restart my section.
RM540 is where we finally got the bike going, while we were now almost 2 hours down to the leader, we knew there was still a lot of racing to go, and it was all at night, I love racing at night and weird to say, that I almost feel more comfortable racing at night maybe it’s the Baja Design lights or something, so off I went into the darkness and with the bike now running good, knowing I could maybe pick up some time and get back into the mix with the other guys in our class. I believe we were around 8th in class at that time, so I just put my head down and starting riding my section, hitting my lines and continuing forward. As I pulled into Check 3 near RM 598, I told the worker I didn’t have a stella and he needed to make sure he got the correct bike listed as coming through, in the broken Spanish I could understand he said to continue on, So I went to our next pit and got gas near RM600, and had Mike Garvin pace me on the hwy so I didn’t break any speed rules since I now didn’t have a speedo to look at. Once I turned off the Speed zone onto the dirt I knew it was going to be a blast in the next section, it flowed really well was sandy & rough. Then low and behold I started to see some lights off in the distance, so I picked up the pace a little and with every cheering fan, reeled in 5 bikes and a quad, as I hit the next pavement section Geoff from Baja Bound Insurance was there waiting with a fresh set of Flow Vision goggles and some radio chatter to help me get time splits and info about what was going on and where I was to look for guys clearing me through the next couple sections, I was about 100 miles in now of my 200 mile section and felt really good, didn’t feel I was pushing above my limits and was just riding smooth! And would you know it, caught and passed 3 more guys before the end of Colonet wash and continued to move forward! Near the Beaches of Erendira I was able to finally make the biggest moves, using past knowledge and riding these trails before with the guys from the Baja Beach Bash, I knew where I could push in the whoops and rocks and where I needed to stay smooth, I picked off the last few guys to get us back into 2nd in the 30 + Pro class. Knowing I just had some fast roads ahead I could stay ahead of the dust and just bring Ryan a good running bike, well that damn bug again, about 5 miles from the end of my section coming into Santa Tomas the bike started popping and running like crap again, and after just having an intense battle with the 9x, I wondered if I was pushing the bike to hard. As I came down into Check 5, I once again told check point I didn’t have a stella tracker and that they needed to write 300x down as coming through, see the left side panel was broken during Andy’s crash and we used the 30x panel to replace it, so once the guy walked up and saw the other side and confirmed with him, he said continue on. I rode up the pavement for a few miles and told Ryan that the bike was running bad, we dumped the gas and replaced it with fresh race gas hoping that would solve the problem, but they quickly realized the battery was dead too, So Tuner once again jumped into action and swapped batteries.
The bike fired and off Ryan went, with it still running bad, Ryan tried to nurse it to the finish, knowing we just needed a finish at this point, he took it easy and continued forward, well 4 miles from the finish the bike finally died! Wouldn’t start and wouldn’t run, So Ryan with nothing but heart and determination pushed it through washes and streets the last bit, I would like to think the screaming fans helped a little as well, every person was standing and cheering for him as he turned the corner. An exhausted Ryan pushed it up on stage and tried to gather his breathe to talk with Rat Sult(Announcer). But out of breathe and the 1st Trophy truck now pulling in, Ryan Gladly pushed the bike off stage and to the team waiting to hear what happened.
Almost 23hours after starting the 51st Baja 1000, we made it (Minus Stella Tracker) to the finish line 2nd Class 30+ Pro moto and 10th overall bike. Thinking we won the championship we celebrated and watched our Friend and Baja Beach Brother win his first ever Baja 1000 in a Trophy Truck. With everyone ready for bed, we went back to the house and caught a few hours of sleep, and reconvened for a team celebration in Punta Bunda, and some celebratory Drinks!
And now the kicker we wake up Sunday am with the official results showing us with a DNF(Missing Stella). It breaks my heart to say we will lose the 300x plate for 2019 because of a tracker that was mounted to the bike which was lost in a crash caused by locals, and that SCORE could care less about the situation and say it’s our responsibility to get a new tracker at the next check even though I personally asked, and that’s it our fault. I guess we win some and we lose some, but I will certainly remember this one for the rest of my life. None of this would be possible without the help and support of our families, friends and sponsors. A huge Thank you to Baja Bound Insurance, DD Racing, TBT Racing for everything they did for this Baja 1000. Each of them were there lending a hand or in Tuner’s case, rebuilding a bike to continue on. And to all of the other sponsors that helped us even get to Mexico, THANK YOU! To those that went on this journey with us, THANK YOU as well.
Our @300xteam would like to thank all of the sponsors for being part of the 2019 program. Baja Bound Insurance, DD Racing, Leibelt Inc, BGA Insurance, Simi Valley Cycles, TBT Racing, Bell Helmets, Flow Vision, FXR Moto, Sidi Boots, FMF, IMS, Goldentyre, Nitro Mousse, Guts Racing, PCI Radios, Baja Designs, WhiteKnuckle Grips, Mika Metals, Fasst Co, DT1 filters, GPR Stabilizer, Costa Rica Unlimited, Galfer, Rad Custom Graphics, Emrossi Designs, BPR moto, Works Connection.