Sunday’s Baja SAE Mud Bath

The complete story of Sunday’s four-hour Baja endurance race would be too wordy for today’s limited attention spans, so while we wait for SAE to post the scores, here are the Cliff Notes:
SUN_8323.jpgWater Challenge:
Pole position was determined by the fastest cars in Saturday’s water challenge. The Miners were nearly last in line, but managed to pass half a dozen teams in the first lap of water-borne chaos.
Eventually, three cars capsized, one of which was on fire. The driver got out in record time, and rather than waste a perfectly good fire extinguisher, they just rolled the car over. Problem solved.
Cars clambering up the gravel ramp eventually scoured out the bank so badly that later drivers couldn’t return to terra firma. That left up to ten somewhat nervous drivers checking their flotation systems while drifting about, waiting for their turn to charge the ramp. Solution? Round up volunteers to wrestle each car out of the drink. Solved.
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SUN_8163.jpg“Dry” Land
Four hours of 50-car Baja racing is the geographical equivalent to earthquake liquefaction, churning “normal” mud into the consistency of cake batter. Flotation chambers easily got high-centered and stuck firmly in the mud. It took three large ATVs and half a dozen mud people, er, volunteers to get one unlucky car moving again.
Low spots became traffic jams, with cars patiently waiting until the grinning, mud-covered laborers freed each obstructing vehicle. Repeat process for at least half of the remaining vehicles on each lap.
Driver Wear and Tear
The race’s very first turn was a disaster; the Geico Gecko’s nightmare, if you will. A high percentage of testosterone mixed with youth and lots of adrenaline, but at least no texting while driving. One vehicle got hit just right (wrong?) and nearly rolled over sideways.
One of the faster cars suddenly veered into a ditch for no obvious mechanical cause. The driver’s explanation? His mud-covered goggles blinded him so he simply guessed the location of the hairpin turn, and fell short by about 30 feet. New DSC_9019.jpggoggles and a quick ATV tow had him back in the hunt in minutes, but his buddies willnever let him forget that stunt.
On the rare flat, dry stretches it was Briggs & Stratton-powered games of chicken; two cars charging into a gap in the trees barely wide enough for one. Kinda like NASCAR without the beer sponsors, fanboy t-shirts and fake leather Viagra jackets.
Where was S&T in this mess? They’d improved their water propulsion systems to claw into the middle of the pack. Then the motor blew out, necessitating a one-hour engine swap. Somehow they managed to replace the hot engine, repair a broken shift connection, and get back on the course. What’s so special about that? The Miners were one of only about 25% of the cars were still running when the checkered flag came down.. This is one of just two or three races in the team’s 6-year history in which the team accomplished that goal.
Not bad, not bad at all.


  1. 4th endurance finish in 6 years and 7 races. Definitely “not bad.” Nice job guys. Sounds like you could have been contenders were it not for the motor.