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Sportsman bikes/quads and Trophy Trucks/class 1 cars

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I am posting to say that there has to be a solution and some etiquette to be followed in the future when it comes to the non-ready sportsman bikes and true hard-core truck and buggy racers. Read on if you are interested.

I am in an interesting position because I race both trucks and bikes and I am very frightened for the sportsman bike guys (and some others) and in truth really believe that many of them have no business being in a Baja race. Sorry.

The bike guys need to be self-policing. Why do these “riders” want to risk everything to do something they are not ready for? I personally have talked guys that are way more ready to race Baja out of it and when I see some of these riders on the race track I am in shock to say the least.

Let me give you some recent visuals I have seen in the truck….

This Baja 500

Passing bikes and quads before mile 200, if your training consists of cheeseburgers and cigs you should not be racing and if you are planning to average 20mph then you probably should go on a www.bajaboundmoto.com trip or similar, you are not racing. If you are holding a 30lbs gut you need a Trophy Truck not a bike.

Seeing the bike rider down on the Mikes road was not easy for me and shook my navigator Cody and I up. I prayed for him right tehre in the truck and am hoping for a full recovery. From there I chased down another TT to where I was 100 feet away and ready to get in and nerf him when the course opened back up. I slowed up a bit as I was trying to get him where I could see nothing in front of him was making dust. Within 30 seconds of backing out of it a quad is stopped in/on the edge of the course, we go by close in the lighter dust.

After I get by said TT we come into the turn at the beginning of the cross over. There is no dust in front of us and we immediately catch a SLOW bike. If there is NO DUST he is crawling. This guy hears the siren and stops in the right line of the course to let us by, thanks but really? I suspect most TT drivers may just take the pass but we stop and he looks back, irritated! He is pissed we have stopped. What he doesn’t understand is that I am waiting to make sure there is no dust behind me before going around. I don’t want him getting blasted by the truck we had just passed.

Is my novel too long?

I was front row to see an epic class one battle through the hills of Erenderia, they were battling and we were a little back with no spares but still in the top 7 on time, allegedly. There is a silt patty along a fence with a hill on the other side, a one-line spot. I slow to let the dust settle a bit and as we proceed we find a bike rider with panic on his face semi pinned to the fence and rear tire semi in the track. We slow to a basic stop and he is okay but I am making sure there is no dust that I have made so no other hot rod comes zooming up blind on this mallard. I came to find out later that one of the cars caught and sheared off his foot peg on the way by because he basically stopped in the track, well really he was in it.

At the San Felipe race battling for the lead we passed a bike guy standing on the berm of the course and it scared the crap out of us.

At the 1000 we slowed down and switched sides to pass slow bikes on the dry lakebed so we didn’t make dust and obscure them as there was 8 trucks doing 120mph on the lakebed at one time, said bikes were doing 60 sitting down.

What I am saying is that if you watch Dust to Glory and want to do the Baja go do a trail ride! You can die trying to be cool or overcome your mid-life crisis, is it worth it?

On the Trophy Truck or class 1 side. I’m sure I am not the only driver trying to save these bike riders lives while on the track. At many drivers meetings Robby Gordon makes sure some good points are made but this is not enough. The TT and buggy guys need to try and wait for the bikes to get to a safe spot and if the bike takes a non-safe spot then the car should do all they can to try and limit the bikes exposure to possible vehicles behind them. I know it is near impossible to shelter them but these bike riders obviously have no sense to save themselves if they are racing the Baja with their butt connected by Velcro to their seat with their elbows touching their knees.

New Baja bike racers should at a minimum…..

1. Take a Baja trail ride trip to see the Baja.

2. Go to a race as a spectator to see what the bikes go through and understand what is chasing you before you ever enter.

3. Go on the opening weekend of pre running and ride what you are proposing to race and see if you can do it with no pressure and no Trophy Trucks. (I love the guys that come to solo and never come to Baja until 2 days before the race)

4. Consult a professional that can host you in Baja and tell you if you are ready. There are a couple tour groups that do this including bajaboundmoto.

5. If a veteran of the Baja tells you that you are not ready it is not because we do not want to share Baja with you, it’s because we are afraid you are going to die.

6. If #5 occurs see 1-4 again.

7. There needs to be a mandatory bike and TT/class 1 meeting before the 500 and 1000 with a roll call for the sportsman bikes so we know they hear how to handle what is coming behind them.

Getting passed

1. Always assume there is more than one truck/car

2. When you are caught take the time to get to a safe spot off the track. Stopping in the track is not a good idea just because the one truck you can see knows you are there the guy behind him in his dust does not.

3. Never pull out behind a car or truck that passes you. Wait until there is zero dust and for sure nothing coming when you pull back out.

4. In my opinion once the first truck passes you maybe waiting for the first 10 or 15 to go by while you wait would be a good idea.

Do I sound salty? I am. I love Baja and want you all to love it too.

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... a point well made, and I ALL-to-often fear for the unknowing rider(s).

It goes for any sport.

There will always be the "new" guy... and with that, comes the responsibility of the salty dog to be aware of this ongoing "issue". I think the ONLY way around this type of issue is to run sportsman classes on a completely different schedule (and we know that won't happen - as well, that 'idea' has been beat to death in the past).

No matter how much you explain, no matter how much it's mandatory... there's ALWAYS going to be "that guy" who doesn't know any better. Or who didn't make the meeting. Or who simply is the dumb-ass trying to get himself killed in a race (this goes for every class... not just the "bike" or "ATV" riders).

Passing the word on forums is a great help. As well as racers policing other racers... and ongoing communication amongst everyone racing. But again, I don't think the 'dumb ones' are going to get the point, let alone read up on the "how to survive" posts I read year in, year out (usually) posted by the guys with the horsepower.

...all too often "Broken record goes round and round"

Edited by johnnyairtime

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I was a sportsman once, back when there were maybe 10-12 trophy trucks. There were 41 entered in the 500.

I would argue there are plenty of cigarette smoking four-wheeled drivers out there with fat bellys and fat check books who have absolutely no business racing.

That mixture is unsustainable. Say goodbye to the heart of Baja racing.

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Cam, I have been preaching your very words for years. Tim Morton has also been a strong supporter of this view (and not from a business point of view). Participating in a Baja race (notice I didn't use the term "Race") appears to be a common goal among "adventure riders" much like climbing Mt. Everest. Many attempt to reach these life long goals with no business being on a race course with Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars.

Unfortunately SCORE supports the idea of everyone should get a chance to live the dream and attempt the challenge of racing in Baja no matter what their capabilities or skill levels are. I firmly believe that many of these guys are really not aware of the danger they expose themselves too. Perhaps Sal should require at some sort of "awareness" training for sportsman racers prior to allowing them to race?

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Perhaps Sal should require at some sort of "awareness" training for sportsman racers prior to allowing them to race?

Fat chance. The only time SCORE/Sal seems willing to communicate with racers is at the racers meeting the night before a race.

I've never seen or heard of a racing organization so utterly inept at racer communication and education. I know Sal has a good heart and means well and is sincere, but the fact that critical information and basic common sense education is only disseminated the night before a race is just mind-blowing to me.

SCORE should make a more concerted effort to educate racers and make sure they are prepared before a race. I was lucky and learned the ropes from some of the most experienced Baja racers around, but there are a lot of people out there not so fortunate so where can they get proper education well in advance of a race?

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................ I firmly believe that many of these guys are really not aware of the danger they expose themselves too. Perhaps Sal should require at some sort of "awareness" training for sportsman racers prior to allowing them to race?

Another great point.

Perhaps... many of the videso you see (above and beyond Dust-to-Glory) put on You tube as well as DVD, websites...etc promote that kind of desire to race and about the 'glory' of it all.

It'll be cool if one of the top-dawgs put a video together, of the "DANGERS of racing" alongside the horsepower (TTs, Class1, etc) vehicles. THAT... would definitely be better than preaching it in text. Seeing IS believing!!

... these days, you only see videos being promoted about the excitement, glory and fun of racing (completely understood - they generate revenue). The other top-sellers are of crashes and dismay. It's time for the big boys of the sport, to put out a video that is educational AND promotes awareness and isn't about fame, money, or promoting a business.

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....... the fact that critical information and basic common sense education is only disseminated the night before a race is just mind-blowing to me.

It's also put out in notices, on the website weeks before the race. And even then, people won't read it.

What do other races/organizations put out, that is so educational ??

And what great source of communication/channel do they use??

... I knew I should have stayed off TT this AM! 👍

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"Booger's Dad" has many good ideas and the time is right to make some changes in SCORE's policies. It can be done and it has happened before:

1. Remember Danny Hamel? Now we have speed limits on the highways, maybe not totally attributable to Danny's tragic death, but a change that needed to happen.

2. Dave Lapraik died prerunning Ensenada / Ojos. That is now a strictly enforced one way prerun with limited availability.

Change can happen and it can be for the good.

How about implementing the Dakar rule that if you stop to help a competitor in an emergency situation the "stopped" time is deducted from your day's time? That wouldn't have changed things here, Roger stopped and did what was right. But the next time, and there will likely be a next time, maybe the promoter needs to "promote" safety and assistance just a bit more.

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It's time for the big boys of the sport, to put out a video that is educational AND promotes awareness

Cam?? Dude, you have the ability along with resources and connections to make something like this happen. SCORE is not alone, BITD's Vegas to Reno has the same potential issues.

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Why not start the Sportsmen Classes dead last? This will give them the thrill of passing during the race and not such a great chance of being run over by an 800hp truck.

Please let me know why this would not work? I hear you BD but as a rider we should not lock out anyone but rather start them in the correct location.

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"Booger's Dad" has many good ideas and the time is right to make some changes in SCORE's policies. It can be done and it has happened before:

1. Remember Danny Hamel? Now we have speed limits on the highways, maybe not totally attributable to Danny's tragic death, but a change that needed to happen.

2. Dave Lapraik died prerunning Ensenada / Ojos. That is now a strictly enforced one way prerun with limited availability.

Change can happen and it can be for the good.

3. David Bills was killed in the 2003 San Felipe 250 by a trophy truck: http://www.off-road.com/dirtsports/2003+San+Felipe+250/SCORE-San-Felipe-250-Death-in-the-Sands-of-San-Fel/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/248765?contextCategoryId=26440

I believe they extended the start times between bikes and trucks as a result of this incident.

4. Jason Baldwin killed one spectator and injured many more driving too fast into the finish of the 1999 Baja 500:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KypvUF3oSMo

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/jun/08/sports/sp-45464

High risk is what makes Baja racing what it is. You're never going to eliminate that unless they stop sharing a course with all these different vehicles, different skill levels and different common sense. Otherwise, make it a purely professional only event or have qualifiers so people have to prove they belong down there first. But, that's never been what Baja is about.

Edited by Justin Hambleton

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Baja has always been about being open to anyone and everyone. There just has to be a way to make it safer. Starting sportsman bikes & quads after the cars is not a good idea either, as there are sportsmen who are much faster than the slower car classes. Have you ever tried passing a car in the dust at speed? Cars don't even get out of the way for other cars, wadda you going to do nerf a car with your bike? Ask the guys who just did the NORRA 1000 about starting mixed in with the cars and then remember that some of the cars that started in front of them weren't seriously racing.

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I know a few riders here in texas that "race" baja.. Most I have met that go are mid ranked Novice or Intermediate riders racing locally or and some don't even race and have a hard time finishing one of our Dual sport events.

I just think there needs to be some sort of qualifying to be able to race these big events besides just plunking down money and signing up for what ever class you want..

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No one goes down there not understanding the risks. The first question sportsmen always ask is, "what time do you think the trophy trucks will catch me?" They understand the risks and are willing to accept them the moment they hop on a bike. It's ridiculous to think a motorcycle racer is going to pull over and wait 10-15 minutes for cars to clear the way and that's simply impossible to enforce as a "rule." Robby stood up at the racers meeting in '07 and tried to get everyone to agree on protocol for bikes acknowledging a truck and pulling over. His solution was to ALWAYS pull over to the right. Well, the right is not always an option, nor is the left, nor can you expect a bike to hear a truck or car behind them, nor can you ever expect a bike to responsibly pull back onto the course, nor can you ever trust a trophy truck or class 1 driver will be able to distinguish between car dust and motorcycle dust.

Perhaps you guys need to do something about your nerfing mentality. Perhaps the cars and trucks need a way to be able to communicate with one another so they know a car/truck is behind them and they need to pull over instead of nerfing each other. Nascar doesn't accept it, why should SCORE and why should we have to accommodate such machismo stupidity?

Put a beacon on all bikes and ATV's and require all trophy trucks and class 1's to run a radar type system or GPS in their car that shows the beacon on their display so they know a bike is in front of them. They can afford it and they have the luxury of a co-driver who is supposed to be looking out for this kind of stuff anyway. Or some sort of RFID or other transmitter that a truck/car can pick up whenever they are within a certain range of a bike/ATV.

Or just leave things the way they are and accept the fact that every now and then something bad is going to happen. If the trophy truck and class 1 drivers want a clear course, free of human speed bumps, go find another foreign country to race off-road or race on a different day. Baja has enough whoops as it is. There's a lot of virgin territory in Canada 👍

Edited by Justin Hambleton

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Put a beacon on all bikes and ATV's and require all trophy trucks and class 1's to run a radar type system or GPS in their car that shows the beacon on their display so they know a bike is in front of them. They can afford it and they have the luxury of a co-driver who is supposed to be looking out for this kind of stuff anyway. Or some sort of RFID or other transmitter that a truck/car can pick up whenever they are within a certain range of a bike/ATV.

👍

What about the single seat vehicles... they rarely even use a GPS, let alone look at one.

And what is the vehicle to do once it sees a "beacon" or hears a loud "alert" sound of a bike/atv nearby? Slow down? Be cautious? ... in the event of a heated trophy truck or class 1 battle... I say the "heed" your thinking, wouldn't work as 'theory' has it. It'd work better to put this "sound off/alerting" device on a bike... and alert you to when a 4 wheeled vehicle is within 1000' of you in all directions.

That's all we need, is more electronics to malfunction, have to wire up, find mounts for... or, have them forget to turn them on!🤣

.........Or just leave things the way they are and accept the fact that every now and then something bad is going to happen. If the trophy truck and class 1 drivers want a clear course, free of human speed bumps, go find another foreign country to race off-road.

I'm sure this is the better idea. And keep ideas flowing of how to make it safer (within reason). Every sport has it's risk, and every sport continues to make that sport safer (by way of experience)... and the problem here is true "SPORTSMAN" riders/racers are probably aware of the risk, just not sure they believe it could be deadly (or think - it won't happen to me). If they do truly understand, then so be it... let'em take that risk! It's one hell of a thrill ride, and they paid for it!!

I know each time I've raced Baja, I KNEW THE RISK involved and was willing to race (in fact, it's what drew me to Baja - like a moth to light). But I also knew It doesn't only take a race vehicle to end your life, mame, or scar you forever. What's next... close down the course to local traffic?!

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Maybe we need to implement the sphinctometer to send a jolt of electricity into their rectum in the presence of a car/truck. That will get their attention.

845428057_cwHRC-M.jpg

Then again, they might crash and get run over.

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One of the great points Cam made was regarding not the initial car passing the bike, but the guy in his dust trying to set up a pass, who commonly has no idea what is front of the car in front of him. There was a great shot of BJ & Rob Mac along the coast in a vid with this very thing from the 08 (?) 500.

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Knowing when the fast cars will catch me and looking back (a lot) seems to work just fine for me.

To add to Cameron's comments:

1) Understand, very well, if, when and where the cars will catch you.

2) look back, often! Not every 5 minutes. Not every minute. Like every 20-30 second... yes, be intelligently paranoid.

3) Most important - when you see that dust (or lights) a mile behind you, don't wait till they are on your tail... too late. A mile back is a matter of seconds, get off the course NOW.

3) Let go of your ego, your pride, your delusions and your denial that your not that fast.

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Maybe we need to implement the sphinctometer to send a jolt of electricity ...........

🤣 ... what about the guys who run out of power, since they are holding down the button in shear pleasure?! I know too many who'd LOVE this new piece of equipment (for the record; I no longer ride with them:busted:)

One of the great points Cam made was regarding not the initial car passing the bike, but the guy in his dust trying to set up a pass, who commonly has no idea what is front of the car in front of him. There was a great shot of BJ & Rob Mac along the coast in a vid with this very thing from the 08 (?) 500.

Seen it. SCARY.

... also the video of the spectator, who crosses behind a buggy and gets his calf/leg clipped by the front wheel of the second car who's lost in the dust. 👍

Knowing when the fast cars will catch me and looking back (a lot) seems to work just fine for me.

To add to Cameron's comments:

1) Understand, very well, if, when and where the cars will catch you.

2) look back, often! Not every 5 minutes. Not every minute. Like every 20-30 second... yes, be intelligently paranoid.

3) Most important - when you see that dust (or lights) a mile behind you, don't wait till they are on your tail... too late. A mile back is a matter of seconds, get off the course NOW.

3) Let go of your ego, your pride, your delusions and your denial that your not that fast.

4) Realize DNFs are cool

5) Add new acronym with description --> DNF-SFA: Did Not Finish but Still F*****g Alive!

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I just found this on another site regarding the Norman TT getting into a bike at the last race:

It happened at rm255 about a mile from the highway. Norman was behind another TT and there was a racer on a dirt bike in front of it. The racer moved over to let the first TT pass but did not know about Norman was behind the other TT. The rider got back on the course with the dust and Norman didn't see him till he was right on top of him and ran him over. The rider has two broken legs and was airlifted ti the hospital in the U.S. . After that Norman stopped to assist and did not want to leave even when medics on his team came and told him they got it handled. Norman almost dropped out after that cause he said he couldn't get what happened out of his mind and slowed his pace down considerably because everytime he got into dust he was afraid he was gonna hit somebody again!

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