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David Horsley's Baja 1000
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Friday, 25 November 2016
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As the Australian off road racing season winds down for the year, some extremely fortunate Australian’s are living every offroaders dream, securing either drives or codriving gigs at the Baja 1000.

Following is Melbourne based David Horsley’s take on his co-drive with Pete Sohren.


When I first arrived in Phoenix we went to the Baja Racing Adventures and Bajalite workshop. Both companies are owned by the legendary Trophy Truck racer himself “Pistol” Pete Sohren.

I left home thinking I was codriving in the Baja 1000 with Pete Sohren, however, after landing he told me the news that trophy truck will now also qualify in Vegas as part of the Score International SEMA Show Display, which meant he would need me help to get our truck ready and also help with a new truck being built for the F1Firearms Team.

A few late nights in the lead up to SEMA qualifying and we got the truck ready to qualify. We were extra light without spare parts and bumper, which helped up as Trophy Truck Spec run a spec and tagged stock LS3 engine; this is one of the reasons the class is growing in numbers.

We made it to SEMA and got the truck on display which gave me only a few hours to look around; definitely not even close enough to see a quarter of the show.

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Part of SEMA qualifying is to drive the trucks from SEMA out the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to the off road short course. Driving a 525hp Trophy Truck Spec around the streets of Vegas was a great experience and gave us the opportunity for a shakedown and functions test of the truck.

With the truck all good and our suspension settings straight from the shop acceptable, we were ready to qualify. After a minor issue which left us with no rear sway bar, we still managed third in class and with the largest jump also just for some more excitement a bit of 2 wheeled action to shake me down.

It was straight back to the shop to get the other R2 trucks ready for the 1000.

With a few more late nights and plenty of people helping, we made it to Ensenada on Wednesday, two days before the race. Pistols daughter Paige, and other competitors in our team had already pre run the 1000 and made all the track notes for us. So we, and our team mates, all did a quick 20 mile pre run from the start line, which got me used to the GPS and calling all the corners.

Driver Briefing, Contingence and Tech inspection all done it was an early night before the race.

Race Day and Pistol and myself started the race as we qualified (score rule) and would do a short run before handing it over to Crew 1 - our Lithuanian team mates of Pilenai Racing Club Arunas Lekavicius, Aze Za, Petras Cesunas and Rossi.

On the start line we didn’t have much time to soak it all in as we took off third in class down the streets into the wash and then over the jump where we encountered the first qualifier, who han stopped for an immediate driver change… Now the race was on!

Through the wash we closed in. I hit the Stella (tracking and push to pass safety system) PTP button as we come out of the wash and they let us pass. Out we went down the unfinished freeway hitting over 115MPH with the 40” tyres keeping us on the road

With our plan to preserve the truck for our teammates, the Toyota caught us napping just before the sealed road became dirt and the dust almost stopped us in our tracks. We regrouped and continued on, the race track now different as spectators lined the roads and tracks; people were everywhere.

In the boulder country, with tight single lane tracks, we had a front wheel slip off the track on the low side dragging us over the edge. Pistol’s experience showed as we almost made it back on course but unfortunately we were stuck, but still on all 4 wheels. Hours passed as we tried to get someone to pull us out, but the relentless traffic and with no car big enough, I preceded to get help.

I found some friendly English speaking Mexicans with a 4x4 Jeep; perfect. They were excited to help. They drove me back to the spot, yet the car wasn’t there. Pete had been towed out by a competitor, moved to load up, get in and go racing.

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Being at the back of the pack we had to be careful with all the slow cars. With the Stella system, they were quick to oblige and let us passed, but being at the back and out of position has its drawbacks. We hit a large rock passing a UTV giving us two flats tyres, and we only carry one spare. Big mistake you say, well Baja was being fortunate to us as just behind us is the F1 Firearms team were our teammates who lent us their spare tyre as we were only 20 miles from first pit.

Both tyres changed and we were back in the truck to take on the traffic and bottle necks in the dark. I could smell the sea air and the temperature dropped, but we had made it to our pit at Mile 141. Arunas and Rossi jumped in and were away… now time for us to chase them and the other two trucks we had running in the event.

Now it was time to chase, with our other support crews and chase trucks already out in their positions we had a quick taco stop to refuel ourselves and then continued onto Mile 413 to help pit #202 (Chad Sohren), #268 the three seat Geiser Truck then we waited for #203 whom were having fuel blockage issues along the way.

Following tracking and communicating with Chad Sohren (Pete’s Brother) whom was our eyes and ears stateside, kept us informed and with latest tracking which unfortunately showed our truck #222 stationary at mile 309. They were in a radio and cell phone dead zone at the most southern end of the highway about 7 miles down the racecourse.

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Baja has many reasons to be stopped moving, be it a flat tyre or bogged in a silt bed, which there is one at that location. Incase it was a vehicle issue that could possibly be fixed, we waited to get confirmation of their issue and hopefully to see the moving again on the tracker. Time went by and we all get some sleep until we pit #268; no issues, just fuel. The daylight brakes with #222 still stationary but #203 not far away. We pit #203 with fuel and a tyre change. They inform us they didn’t see #222 so off we go south to Mile 309.

After the few hours’ drive we find them on 4 wheels and not running. Arunas informs us they rolled after coming into the silt bed to hot and stopped on their roof, which meant heads in dust with water like consistency, but they safely got out and righted the vehicle. Whilst trying to start the truck they broke the starter motor, which we quickly replaced, took out spark plugs pumped oil out of cylinders and the truck fired!!

Aze ZA and Petras hop in the truck and off they go. We headed back to Mile 413; We beat them but only just. Being the last vehicle moving on course at that point and all calculations leading to not making DNF time, we reluctantly retire from the race with a truck that was well and truly capably of still finishing.

#203 suffered continual fuel issues putting them out of the race at Mile 771 and #268 had a transmission fire putting them out of the race at Mile 468

I would like to thank the sponsors Bajalite, Baja Racing Adventures, Aurora Custom Fabrication, Maxxis Tires, Motive Gear, King Shocks