BITD: Baja 300: Race summary

Success in Baja Las Vegas, Nevada ~ "We did it again! We promoted a successful race in Baja and I couldn't be happier," says Casey Folks, Director of Best In The Desert Racing Association. "For the second year in Baja it could not have gone any ...

BITD: Baja 300: Race summary

Success in Baja

Las Vegas, Nevada ~ "We did it again! We promoted a successful race in Baja and I couldn't be happier," says Casey Folks, Director of Best In The Desert Racing Association. "For the second year in Baja it could not have gone any better. We had very few injuries, we had no lost racers, we had no major incidences, well we did have Hurricane Iganicio, but besides some very wet racers and stories of floating across the course vs driving, it was a perfect race! Again, I mention the great Best In The Desert Staff, they are all professionals in their particular fields, and I couldn't have done it without them. I have a great staff and we executed the perfect race! I guess that's why we are called Best In The Desert, we put on one of the safest and most organized races in the desert. I think we proved that once again with the Baja Mex "300"; that you can put on a safe, controlled and well marked race in Baja. We had very few injuries, that's the most important thing, safety, and the racers and the support crews had a great time!"

The Baja Mex "300" started on August 8th with 14 days of open pre-running. There were a great many racers who took advantage of the open pre-running and got the word out fast that it was a great course with a lot of new sections; the feedback also gave Casey time to make any last minute adjustments he needed to make on the course.

Gerardo Novelo, owner of the Estero Beach Resort, handled all of the environmental concerns on the course and the contingency arrangements in the downtown area. He has a great working relationship with the government officials and helped to introduce Best In The Desert to the people of Baja. There were many small concerns that came up in permitting the Baja Mex "300" and Gerardo was there every step of the way to address and handle every concern presented.

Registration, Contingency and Technical Inspection were held in downtown Ensenada at the Riviera Convention Center with a beautiful view of the Bay of Ensenada, and at the great Corona Beer compound. Corona Beer was a sponsor of the event and they had a presence at all of the functions. It was definitely a "happening" in the downtown area with t-shirt vendors, food vendors and live radio remotes going all day. The people of Ensenada are huge off-road racing fans and were so excited to have Best In The Desert in Baja! They were very excited about the Baja Mex "300" and were very welcoming to all of the racers and their support crews. Racers commented at the finish line what great fans the people of Baja are. First time Baja racers have never experienced that many fans before and thought it was the coolest thing in the world to see the thousands of fans cheering them on along the 300-mile racecourse.

The Baja Mex "300" started on the downtown Ensenada street in front of the Corona Hotel. For the first time in Baja racing history racers raced along the beach! That's right, the racers left the start line, raced a mile of pavement and made a sharp right and raced right along the Pacific Ocean for three miles. The green light lit up and Kurt Caselli, riding for KTM Sportmotorcycles, was the first off the line. The Cars and Truck started approximately three hours behind the Motorcycles and Quads and Kyle Taylor was the first off the line in the 1400 Trick Truck Division.

The first Motorcycle Team to cross the finish line was Kurt Caselli/Joey Lanza, riding for KTM. The Caselli/Lanza team finished in 6 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds! This was a first "Overall" win for Caselli/Lanza and a first time ride in Baja for the KTM Team. They couldn't have been happier and were elated that a KTM won the Baja Mex "300".

For the second year in a row the Johnny Campbell/Steve Hengeveld team came in second, finishing in 6:20:06, just 3 minutes behind the KTM team. Steve Hengeveld had experienced a pulled muscle at the start line and was not able to ride 100 percent. The American Honda team did fight for the first place and battled for position all day with the KTM team. Finishing 1st in the 4-Stroke Pro Class and 4th Overall was last years winner, Andy Grider/Chuck Dempsey, in 6:35:52, riding a Honda.

There were a great deal of seasoned Baja racers racing the Baja Mex "300", there were approximately twenty Mexican Nationals racing the Motorcycle/Quad race and twenty-four racing the Car/Truck race. The Mexican Nationals love off-road racing and are such a great group of racers and very enthusiastic about the Baja Mex "300"! You only have to come to the finish line to watch the excitement of the family and friends when a racer finishes, it is quite a celebration!

The first Quad to finish was Wayne Matlock/Chad Prull, in the Quad Pro Class, riding a Suzuki, in 7:44:40. This is the team's first "Overall" win and they were ecstatic at the finish line. The 2nd Place Quad Pro team to finish was Steve Beilman/Greg Row, in 7:47:47, riding a Suzuki. This was a very impressive 2nd Place because Greg Row had to Ironman the race and was extremely tired at the finish line. It isn't easy to race 300 miles on a Quad and the team riders have the utmost respect for the Ironman riders who rider solo all of the time. Because of one reason or another, out of the 12 Quad Pro team racers that started, six of them had to ride solo, and believe me, there were six very tired, very sore racers at the finish line. Out of the 80 Motorcycles and Quads that started 64 finished, that's a great finishing rate!

The Weyhrich Team is have a very great racing year, bringing home their second 1st place of the year, win the Baja Mex "300", driving a Jimco in the 1500 Unlimited Car Class placed 1st in 6 hours, 50 minutes and 33 seconds! In a very exciting Car/Truck race Kyle Taylor/Smokey McKeil had the lead until the Weyhrich team passed Taylor right after Pit # 5, Independencia. A very exciting 3rd Overall and 1st Place 7200 Class win was watching Larry Roeseler/Mike Ruane come in to the finish line. Class 7200 Trucks are very rarely in the top ten overall and the credit has to go to the driving ability of veteran racer Larry Roeseler. The team finished in 7:19:27, incredible!

Additional Car/Truck Class Winners

1st Place - 4th Overall - 1000 Class - Eli Yee/Lobsam Yee, 7:37:41

1st Place - 5th Overall - 1200 Class - John Becker/Dan Bohning, 7:38:13

1st Place - 9th Overall - 8000 Class - Curt LeDuc/Todd LeDuc/John Becka, 8:05:13

1st Place - 10th Overall - 1100 Class - Matias Arjona/Bruce Conrad/Matt Cullen/Jim Dizney, 8:06:01

1st Place - 15th Overall - 7300 Class - Rob MacCachren/Steve Olliges/Ron Brecheisen, 9:04:32

1st Place - 17th Overall - 8100 Class - Randy Merritt/Chris Golding, 9:26:39

1st Place - 19th Overall - 4100 Class - Marc Stein/Mike McComas/Travis Walser/David Valadez, 9:51:58

1st Place - 22nd Overall - 3100 Class - Mike Falkosky/Allen Seligson/Wayne Wolar/Jim Shaw, 10:05:19

1st Place - 24th Overall - 5100 Class - Gustavo Avina/E Orozco/E Orneias/A Marquez, 10:14:16

1st Place - 33rd Overall - 2000 Class - Jeff Quade/Dave Gazzaneo, 11:28:52

1st Place - 34th Overall - 7100 Class - Malcolm Vinje/Jim Gilchrist/Mark Hansen/Rick Sherard, 11:30:09

1st Place - 36th Overall - 5100 S Class - Juan Trujillo/I Mariano/A Perez/G Arce, 11:31:16

Promoting an event in Baja was an "unknown" for Best In The Desert two years ago, but with the success of the 2002 and the 2003 Baja Mex "300" Best In The Desert is already making plans for the 2004 Baja Mex "300"! "We've proven that we can go down to Mexico and put on a good clean, safe race. I put my money where my mouth was and we did it; we had very few injuries, it was a good race and everybody had a good time. I think we earned a lot of credibility in Baja. There were a lot of people that were excited about Best In The Desert promoting a race in Baja and I am a very happy that the event was so successful!" says Folks. The 2004 Baja Mex "300" is scheduled for September 24, 25, 26, 2004, start making you plans today, it's going to be bigger and better next year!

The next event in the 2003 ~ "Silver State Series" is the Las Vegas "200" December 5, 6, 7, 2003. There are still a good number of championships on the line and the Las Vegas "200" is either going to make or break it for a lot of people. Remember, it's never over 'til it's over!

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