Day -136 – It’s a good day

bouncehouseYou know how there are some days that are just good, I mean, nothing special, but you feel loved and appreciated, making it a good day.  Today was one of those.  I spent the last 24 hours in bed with a stomach flu, so maybe part of my optimistic attitude came from being able to get out of bed for more than a few minutes at a time. I’m ok with that.

First thing, I called my grandson to wish him a happy 5th birthday, Jacob is an old soul, very smart, very articulate.  When I said to him, “wow, Jacob, you’re five now!”  His response was, “yay, I’m getting pretty old now.”  It was priceless, thanks for my first laugh of the day, buddy, I love you.

We are out at a remote campsite near Congress, Arizona.  It is peaceful and quiet all the time, the most noise we get is the train cruising by and the coyotes yipping.  I love it out here.  The scenery is awesome too!  Add to that the number of friends we have in Arizona and we are truly and abundantly blessed.  We ran in to Phoenix today intending to pick up our mail and drop off some posters for our upcoming event.

First stop was a 4 year olds birthday party, who knew?  By the time we got there, the kid stuff was done and the adults were enjoying a rum punch.  But in the yard, was a pink and purple Hello Kitty bounce house.  Now, being honest here, I’ve never been in a bounce house.  This one looked like a castle and I kept thinking, I wanna go!  But I was a little fearful, I’m not a kid, nor am I shaped like one.  It wasn’t until I saw a couple other adults climb in there and noticed the bounce house didn’t seem any worse for wear after they had bounced.  So I waited until all the kids were out and snuck on in…quietly, I didn’t want a production made.  And I bounced.  First on my knees, then I stood up and bounced to the ceiling, it was awesome!  It’s a motion that we don’t get to do as adults, it was great, after awhile I was a little nauseous, but it was worth it.  So liberating!  We said our goodbyes and thank yous and headed home, at least that was the plan.

At the gas station I popped up Facebook and saw that we had other friends just two miles away settling in for some music at a local bar, what a great way to finish off a Sunday.  We stopped in to The Monastery in Mesa, it is so cool.  I’m not sure it would work any where else, but on a mid February evening in Mesa with the temperatures nice and mild, it was awesome. Sand volleyball courts, ping pong, badminton, an open air stage and a bar that serves food.  Just doesn’t get much better than that when you add in good people.

Thanks to all we saw today, you made my day!

Day -133 – A Look Back at KOH

kohThe earth moves on the lakebed like nothing you’ve seen, in my mind it compares to a sand storm in the Sahara or a snow storm in the rockies, low visibility, abrasion, all in all, not so much fun.  But that’s what you can expect when you spend ten days on a dry lakebed in February.  For the uninitiated, KOH stands for King of the Hammers, it is a halo offroad happening each year in Southern California.  At one time it was an event, in current time it is bigger than that, I heard it compared to Burning Man for gearheads.

Last Friday was the eighth running of KOH, it started as a simple event, thirteen guys running for a case of beer, it has evolved in to a multiple race event covering almost an entire week.  Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to take part in what is billed as the “toughest one-day off road race in the country.”  If the attrition rate is the measure, that is sure to be true.

Throughout the year, we host events all over the US to prepare competitors and their teams for this day, some years we are more successful than others.  I am proud of our Dirt Riot competitors and their accomplishments, while I would love to take credit for their efforts, the truth is it takes tenacity, hard work, perseverance, talent and sometimes, just pure luck to get through race day.

These are the folks who make every day a pleasure, who provide us with a lifestyle we love and who live their passions.  Not everyone made the podium, not everyone made the finish line, hell, not all of them made the start line, but they made us proud and they represented us well – whether that was their intention or not, we appreciate them.  Thank you to all.

The week started with the King of the Motos, not many racers or rockcrawlers participate here, it is an entirely different group of athletes that challenge the rocks on their bikes, but a shout out is well deserved to Craig Thompson, former competitive rockcrawler.

The UTV race was up next, the best finish came from Matt Enochs, in fourth place.  Matt was the 2012 UTV National Champion at Bridgeport, Texas.  Finishing seventh was Wesley Gryner, winner of two Central series events in 2013 in the UTV class of Dirt Riot.  Other competitors from Dirt Riot included Dean Bulloch, Chris Barnett, Brian Bush, Cody Nygren, Rob Usnick, Darryl Dunlap, Lindsay Syler, and Terry Kenyon. 

The next race of note was the Every Man Challenge, there were several races within the race in numerous classes on this day, we were represented in all of them.  In the 4500 class, champion rockcrawler Team Superchips Aaron Sykes placed sixth; eighth was Paul Bickerton, tenth was Alan Johnson from Letzroll, twelfth Jesse Bayne, thirteenth Jay Callaway, other competitors included Shawn Rants, WE Rock Unlimited Champion Justin Hall, Broadsword Racing’s Adam Arsenault, Daniel Sach from Olympus Offroad and rockcrawler Jeremy Eaton from Washington.

The 4600 class was represented by Matt Salyers, another member of the Letzroll team finishing ninth and Jason Kaminsky in his Superchips LJ finishing 10th.  Other Dirt Riot competitors were Victor Buness, Matt Peterson and Mike VanZyl.

The Spec class included former champion rockcrawler and former King Shannon Campbell.

The Legends class saw Brad Lovell placing first, with Matt Messer in the second place position, both are competitive rockcrawlers, Matt still competes in the unlimited class, Brad races the Moab Dirt Riot race, winning that in 2012.

And then there was the big race, Friday’s race determined who was the King…for a second time, Loren Healy won the event.  I would love to claim Loren as ours, but honestly, he was already King before he started racing with us.  We are still very proud.   Lots of other names make that very proud list, of the 154 cars that started the race, only 32 finished.  Finishers that have competed with us and hold that special place in our hearts:  Bill Baird, current National Finals champion finished third; Derek West, second place National Finals champion finished fifth; Rick Mooneyham, sixth, Andrew McLaughlin, 2013 third place National Series points, tenth; Roger Lovell, twelfth; Travis Cook, thirteenth; Wayland Campbell fifteenth; Dave Ashman, eighteenth; Brian Shirley, 2013 National Series points champion, twentieth; Levi Shirley, 2013 Runner-up National Series points champion, 21st; Hunter Sparrow, 23rd; Jason O’Neal, 29th

Others who competed and deserve a great round of applause and our respect; Spencer Murphy, Chris Hoyt, Randy Rodd, Airen Patrick, Matt Lee, Jeff McCullough, Kenneth Goodall, Jesse Haines, Dustin Isenhour, Adam Macke, Masa Tsuda, Kenny Blume, Billy Briney, Chicky Barton, Clay Gilstrap, Matt Burkett, Jeremy Hammer, Jonathan Terhune, Matt Nieman, Chris Sommer, Adam Carter, Dustin Sexton, Carl Langerhans, Shelby Gilstrap, the other Matt Peterson, Mike Nappi, Chip MacLaughlin, Greg Lundeen, Aaron Peters, Travis Leach, Peter Basler, Ben Swain, Tony Arledge, Jeremy Dickenson, Chad Wheeler, and Mike Klensin,  Congratulations to you all, each of you has a story to tell about your journey to KOH and the heartbreak that befell you there, be proud, we certainly are.

Day -107 – 5 Things You Need to Know to Install Your Own Tile

IMAG0524I spent the today on my hands and knees installing new tile in a very old house.  I love this house, but there isn’t a square room in the place, it makes for some interesting projects.  Yesterday we finished the upstairs bathroom, today was time spent on the downstairs bath and laundry room.  Now before you think, I can’t install tile, let me tell you that yes you can…and I will show you exactly what you need.

The basics you know about….tile, backer board, thin-set, grout, bucket, sponge, grooved spreader, there are also a myriad of videos to show you how.  These are the easy parts, you can pick them up at any supply store and get right to work.  Here are some tips you should remember that they sometimes fail to mention:

  • If you have to cut tile with a scoring blade and tile cutter, make sure the tile is not freezing, it will cut much better at room temperature
  • When mixing thin-set, a full 50 lb. bag is difficult to mix properly, split it in two
  • Set a straight line somewhere and work from there
  • Pay attention to the surface you are putting the tile on, make sure it doesn’t have a paper surface that can lift…you’ll end up doing the job again
  • Get a good set of knee pads, they make all the difference in the world

So with all that, let me tell you the top five things you really need besides the supplies

  • No. 5 – Perserverance – the ability to continue with the job when your knees and back are telling you to stop
  • No. 4 – Empathy – for whatever home improvement project your partner is working on and struggling with
  • No. 3 – Imagination – the ability to see what a room will look like when you finally get it done
  • No. 2 – Humor – keep laughing, it will get better, and more importantly, it eventually gets finished
  • And No. 1 – Self-confidence – let go of your insecurities and just do it; no one else has to know that you don’t have a f**’n clue

Day -103 – Clean Eating

IMAG0520I believe every young woman (and man) should be given a good knife and a cutting board at a young(ish) age.  The more I listen to folks spout about diet, the more I think that it can be solved with just those two items. Every meal should require chopping of some sort.

For the past couple of weeks I have had a kitchen, this is unusual for me, most of the year I cook on a Camp Chef.  I love my Camp Chef, but it limits the way I cook, or I thought it did.  I am so out of practice using an oven, I still cook every meal on my stove top.  That’s not a bad thing though. 

We practice clean eating, my definition is fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meats, limited processed foods.  It has the advantages of limiting our sodium, carbohydrate and chemical intake.  If I can buy organic and non GMO, I will, but let’s face it, that is entirely dependent on where you get to buy your food.

Every trip to the grocery store is a practice of this mentality.  We start in produce and gather up fresh fruits and vegetables and then we continue along the outside ring of the store.  The outside is where they keep dairy, meats, and produce.  We only dip down an aisle for a specific item.  Yesterday it was a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce and a box of cereal. 

Each meal starts with my knife and cutting board and a trip to the refrigerator, I may not want a salad, but somehow we are getting veggies in our meal.  For breakfast I slice tomatoes, mushrooms and green onions almost daily to add to our eggs.  For dinner, I get out those same veggies plus some cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus…just about anything left over and if I can’t add them to the main dish, they go in a salad bowl.  The most fun I have though is figuring out how to add it to the main dish.  Are you having spaghetti?  Sure the prepared sauce is good, but what if you sliced an onion and chopped some garlic to saute in olive oil first, then add the meat, then add the sauce.  Are you done?  Not yet, chop some mushrooms, roma tomatoes and asparagus to finish out your sauce.  See what you just did?  You added all your veggies and no one is going to recognize them, they just know your sauce tastes amazing.

Now you would think this would lead to a lifetime of thinness, but alas, it does not.  What it does lead to is a healthy body that can do anything.  Practice shopping the outside ring, and get out your trusty knife and cutting board and learn to use them.  You will feel better almost immediately, and I have a theory that if you are feeding kids, you will notice a change in them too.

Day -102 – Craving the Familiar

IMAG0519We are currently living in a small town, granted it’s only for 3 weeks, but it only takes a day to become ingrained.  It doesn’t matter if we are in the grocery store, the post office or most often, the lumberyard, people treat you like their neighbors.  We have conversations with perfect strangers that last for 20 minutes or more, it is completely different than visiting a city.

Our last “home” was a small town too, albeit, larger than this one.  I was part of that community, from the theater to the high school and everywhere in between, I knew someone.  One of the many things I participated in was card class at my local scrapbooking store.  For those of you unfamiliar, I have two great friends, Vi and Dawn, who design five cards, create kits and then host a workshop for their students to make the cards they have designed.  They take the hard part out of it by cutting the papers to size, providing the embellishments. Many of us leave with cards exactly the same, others of us found ways to embellish.  I have always been a big fan of sending cards, a way to say thank you, to remind someone you are thinking of them, it is far more personal than any electronic means.

At Christmas I sent over 200 holiday cards to the people who make us successful, our competitors.  For years, I have sent New Year’s cards to those who had an impact on my life in the previous year, and what better way than to send handmade cards.

Dawn at Stinkin’ Cute has held on to my card kits for the last four months until I could get there to pick them up.  I did that before we headed to Montana and finished making them all last night.  On the back I will write “handmade by Shelley.”  But that really is cheating, sure I put them together, but the credit belongs to my friends who inspire me, who bring me joy, who are always there.  This is the familiar I crave, they say you can’t go home again, but you can find solace and joy in those who help you find your home on the road, those who bring the familiar.  Thanks.


Day -98 – eHarmony Success Story

eharmonyWe just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary, as part of that, I tagged eharmony on our Facebook post.  They responded with, “tell us your story.”  So here is what I sent them.  There are many more pieces, but this is the big picture.

“I want to share our story, not because it is unique in how we found each other…eHarmony is doing that everyday…but we are unique in what we have done with our lives since.

Rich and I were matched on 12/20/08.  I had been divorced after 25 years of marriage, Rich had recently become a widower after an equal 25 years of marriage.  We figured we started our relationship with 50 years experience, so we knew what we wanted and more importantly what we didn’t want.

We began slowly, just as is suggested, it took us almost three months to finally meet, there were 600 miles between us, so planning was required.  I was skeptical about being in a relationship and at the end of our first weekend together, I told him “Don’t do it. Don’t fall in love with me. I am trouble.”  That was how I was feeling, I hadn’t done anything but hurt everyone in my way for awhile now.  We continued talking and about three weeks later he sent me a text that said “ I think I am in serious like with you.”  That was it for me, I was hooked.

In July 2010, we got engaged, by then Rich had moved to Idaho and we were helping to raise his infant grandson, this would be a temporary situation, but at the time, we just weren’t sure where it was going.  My friends suggested I didn’t have to do that, my kids were raised, I didn’t have to take on a newborn.  I told them, “I love Rich, if he comes with a child, I will take him too, this is the right thing for us to do.”  And it was.

Not long after, we had four adult girls (daughters and friends) and an infant living with us, that was a challenging year, but we survived it with humor.  Everyone kept asking when we were getting married, I told them, the day after the end of the world.  Not that I believed the world was ending, but because the Mayan calendar was in the news and it was an easy response.

About December 12, 2012, Rich reminded me that the end of the world was next week, was I ready to be married?  I asked for the opportunity to sleep on it.  By this time, our lives were so intertwined, there wouldn’t be much change in our living arrangements, but the paperwork had scared me a little.  The next morning, I told him I had a plan.  We called our favorite local sports bar owner, arranged an End of the World party after they closed on the 21st; called a friend to have him arrange to be ordained; and sent messages to our friends that we were having an End of the World as we Know it Party.  Only one couple caught on.  At midnight, we quieted the room, told them since no zombies were knocking at the door, we were going to go ahead and get married.  It was incredible, a great party, a fun time, the looks on my friends faces was priceless.  We had pulled off a surprise wedding. (Check out Day 287 for the wedding.) 

We just celebrated our 5 year anniversary from being matched and our 1 year wedding anniversary.  So that is the “romantic” stuff, the stuff your commercials are made of, everyone dreams of finding the one, but we really did.  Distance was overcome, baggage was thrown out, we truly are the happiest couple I know.

This is the rest of the story….

My husband is an off-road event promoter, for the ten years before we met, he put on 6 to 10 events a year, all over the country.  He has friends all over the world and is an icon in his industry.  I didn’t know anyone, a complete outsider, offroad was not my passion.  My passion is business, no matter what the form.  I had a stable, secure job as the Chief Financial Officer for a 40+ million dollar company.  I loved my career, but I was changing my lifestyle after my youngest child graduated from high school, with or without a partner.  I wanted adventure and travel.

As we got to know each other, we started to play to each other’s strengths, he let me take over duties in his company that were administratively oriented, he remained the people person and the visionary.  In 2011, we expanded his business with an upstart racing organization, so in addition to the extreme rock crawling, we were now racing.  Our test market played so well, we expanded the company to include racing all over the country and go full time in 2012.  I retired from my job, we rented the 3000 sq foot house out, and moved in to a 280 sq foot RV – well kind of.  We refer to our RV as a poor man’s NASCAR hauler, it is a converted semi-truck that we use as our office and our home.  We travel fulltime, if we aren’t at one of our own events, we are at another offroad event.  The business has taken off, we have followers, we have fans, we have friends and we have family, nationwide.  We bring a family atmosphere to an intense competition, we play hard, we work hard, we are a partnership. 

2014 is adding some new things to our field of play, in addition to the offroad events with vehicles, we are adding a running series.  We are also working with an emmy-nominated film editor to produce a made-for-tv competition series that is being pitched to major networks.  Our life is about fun and travel, love and friendship.  I truly found my life’s partner and am blessed every day with an incredible life.  Everyone should have it as great as we do.”

Check out our lives:  

Day -93 – How do you write?

writingI’ve been missing from my blog lately, sure I posted yesterday, but that was only when I opened my file and realized I had written a pretty good write up and never posted it, so it doesn’t count.

My husband and I have been discussing my writing a lot lately, I’m a bit unfocused right now, it is what we call the “off season.”  Now the difference between the “season” and the “off season” for us is that we are not currently hosting any events.  It doesn’t mean we are less busy, we are just busy doing all the things we don’t do during the season.

The off season started right before Thanksgiving this year, we got back from Baja and the Score 1000 to spend an extra week in greater Phoenix so we could attend a few parties and see some partners; then off to Sacramento and a longer than usual visit with my in-laws.  We got to see a lot of friends and eliminate a major monthly expense (storage units, don’t get me started on what I think of those), and of course spend time with family, always worth it.  Then a quick trip to LA to pick up our youngest daughter, another trip to Utah to see the middle one, and finally to Idaho to see the oldest daughter for the holidays.  That took a month, but seemed to fly by.

We stayed in Idaho longer than intended (another story, I might have to share), and then to Montana – the same place we spent last winter working on a house we own.  But the question posed here was not what are we doing, but how do I write?

The above just explains my unfocus, it’s not that I lack material, it’s that I lack discipline.  During the season, there is time scheduled for sitting at my laptop, right now, it is hit and miss because we are always moving.

When I start a blog, it is with a sentence, maybe two that has found its way in to my brain and needs to come out.  The beginning sentence is almost always formed before I touch the keyboard, what follows never is.  I might have thought of a direction, but as soon as I start typing, it could become overshadowed by something else. I really don’t know where I’m going until it is written. 

My mind naturally flows for 400 to 500 words and then it concludes.  I can’t seem to plan it.  It takes about twenty minutes to write, another twenty to edit and post and it is done.

In November, I tried to participate in NaNoWriMo, for the third year in a row.  First off, I know I’m going to have to pick a different month, November starts with SEMA – never a good time for me.  But putting that aside, I can’t seem to plan my writing.  I have good story ideas, or at least the beginnings are good, I just don’t know where they are going.  It is the same phenomenon as when I blog, it just starts to flow, then it stops.  I tried this year to create a story outline, it wasn’t very inspiring.

Next on my list is Non-Fiction Now!, I think this will be easier for me because it is more task oriented, I’ve started, just need to find that discipline that I’ve been missing. I am a list maker, and non-fiction seems to lend itself over to lists, why can’t I do the same with fiction?  If you blog, write novels or write non-fiction, how do you do it?  Do you know where you are going before you start? 


Day -92 – Random Acts of Kindness

kindnessThere is a blog roaming around out there that refers to “134 Random Acts of Kindness.”  I read it a couple of weeks ago and it has been bugging me ever since.  Please understand, I Believe in Random Acts, I even try to practice them, I just was disappointed with what one writer thought qualified as kindness.

Random Acts of Kindness should be things that you don’t do every day, that aren’t part of the larger world of common courtesy.  My mother always taught the Golden Rule…you remember, do unto others as you would have done unto you.  So when someone claims that allowing traffic to merge is a Kindness, I think, Really??? Isn’t that just what you do?

Here were some of the ideas that I struggled with…not because they are bad ideas, but because I thought this is how we all acted:

Be thoughtful

Hold your tongue

Meet your neighbors

Don’t nag

Don’t complain

Let it go

Don’t be annoying

Don’t keep others waiting on you

Respect your partner

Be on time

Tip generously

Do you see what I’m saying here?  These are things my mama taught me to do in polite society, they had nothing to do with being kind, it was just how it was done.  This is stuff we should all be doing daily, not just when we are trying to be extra good.

The holiday season is a great time to go that extra mile, in fact, you probably did.  We are reminded daily during the holidays to do good for others, but what happens now?  What happens when winter is upon us, the bills from the holidays show up, we are just a little stressed because there isn’t another free day off from our world for months.  What happens when tempers get short, attention wanes, maybe now is when we really should be practicing those Random Acts, maybe now is when we need it most?  Maybe now we need to continue doing good things…so where do you start?

There are websites dedicated to just this idea, research them, even the lame ones have great ideas (just Google search “Random Acts of Kindness” for 6,830,000 results)…but before you do, consider what makes you smile, what thoughtful things you appreciate.  Is it the couple with a basket full of groceries that lets you step in line in front of them with just your toothpaste to purchase?  Is it the guy in the coffee line at your favorite espresso shop who paid for yours too?  Is it when someone holds the door for you when you have your hands full?  Did your heart glow when you saw the Giving Tree at your local bank or retail store at Christmas? Remember there are needy all year long.  The Boy Scouts and Post Office collect canned goods, but could you not wait, go down to the local Food Bank with a donation yourself, perhaps just by cleaning out your cupboards? 

Random Acts of Kindness don’t have to cost money, but they should cost you something…your time, your talent, your spare change.  Invest in this, even if just with your smile.


Day -54 – Thankfulness

thankfulMy life is so full of good things, I can barely contain my joy sometimes.  My blessings are numerous…I have good health, a great man, incredible children, fabulous friends, an abundance of everything.  Truly Life, liberty and happiness are mine.

Each Thanksgiving I look around and Thank God for everything in my life.  I am a bit of a Pollyanna, maybe I’ve mentioned that before; I just don’t see any point in dwelling on the negatives – at least in my writing.  I have bad days like the rest of you, but there is something about grabbing my keyboard that makes me think positive thoughts.

For years, I have sent a half dozen emails on Thanksgiving morning, they begin with “I am thankful for you…” and then I say why.  This is something I send to my children and my husband, and generally one or two others who really have an impact on my life at the moment.  Folks that I just can’t seem to get by without.  Right now that would require a couple of dozen emails, so I’m going to post it here.  If it applies to you, you will recognize yourself, even if we’ve never met…

“I am thankful for you.  On this Thanksgiving, I look at all the things that matter to me and realize that you are one of them.  I am proud of your   resourcefulness, your talent, your willingness to share with others.  I am proud of your infectious smile and your laughter and the way you bring out the best in me.  I am proud of your willingness to work hard, no matter what the task, day in and day out.

Thank you for being someone who matters, for taking the time to look out for others, for listening to my silly ideas and for appreciating me.  It is because of  you that I am who I am and I couldn’t be prouder at this moment to call you my friend.  Thanks for being you.”

Do you know someone you should send this note to?

Day -45 – Thirty Six Hours of Racing Baja

bajaHave you ever gotten confused when someone said they were going to Baja California? You know that is in Mexico, right?  The little spit of land referred to as Baja, is the peninsula, it runs south from San Diego for about a thousand miles.  Baja has two states, the northernmost one is Baja California; the one south is Baja Sur.  We spent the last week in Baja California, the wild, wild west.

When you think Mexico, most people think of Cabo or Cozumel with the beautiful beaches; Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta with the ruins and lush green…when I think Baja, I think paradise – but that is for an offroader, the predominant color is brown, or better described as dust.  Baja is home to the SCORE 1000 race, the final event of each year for Score International.  It is an epic event that has been captured on film, think Dust to Glory, and has captured the hearts of many.

Each year we attend as part of a Chase team.  Our race team is the 1066 of Shaffer Motorsports.  This year there were about 20 people on the team.  We have six drivers that move the car forward, this year through 888 miles of course, starting at Ensenada and ending there as well.  It took 35 hours and 57 minutes, not our best showing, but we finished within the timeline of 36 hours; and a finish is almost as good as a win.  The attrition rate at the thousand is horrendous.

The other dozen of us were chase teams; our goals were to be where the race car would pass through sometime during that 36 hours to provide support.  There were three teams on the Sea of Cortez side; Chase 10 – that’s us, we run communications; Chase 2 – Shawn and Bror were stationed towards San Felipe; Chase 1 – Hector and friends (locals to Ensenada).  Our first challenge came providing an additional tire to the 1066 after they had to change one in the first leg of the race, Chase 1 met them at Pit 1 and dropped the tire; the second challenge came when we ran out of gas thirty miles from Pit 2.  All of us on the Cortez side got involved in that one, strapping down extra fuel cans we were carrying and sending them off with Chase 1 to find the car at race mile (rm) 173.  By rm 340, our team had moved away from the Cortez side and was running strong but we wouldn’t see them for what we estimated would be another 14 hours, they had moved to the Pacific side.

Driver change occurred at Coco’s Corner.  Coco is a legend in Baja, he lives in the middle of nowhere on a road that crosses the peninsula from east to west.   Coco has been a host to thousands over the years with a cold beer and many stories, all of the legends have been a part of that history.  San Felipe to Gonzaga has been almost completely paved; then there is another 30 miles of dirt until you get to Coco’s, this is race course in this event.  After Coco’s is another 20 miles of dirt to get to Highway 1, this year that 20 miles was slow going, so no easy task to get in there.  Chase 3 was waiting at the driver’s change, new drivers in, old one’s out, it had taken our team about 14 hours to this point. 

So at midnight, the 1066 was on its way headed to the infamous silt beds.  The silt this year was unbelievable, a 100 mile section of deep ruts with sand washing over the car; it wasn’t until daybreak that we started having an easier time of it.  Stuck in the silt at least nine times, because we had issues earlier in the race, we got the worst of it since it had all been run to death and powdered up even more than we had seen in prerunning.  The team forged on, Chase 4, 5 and 6 were on the Pacific side, since there are no roads that cross the peninsula easily, it is important to stage people on both sides.

No significant issues arose outside of the silt, but it was still very slow going.  Another driver change at rm 567 put the last of our drivers in the car.  We anticipated seeing the team at rm 750 when they finally made it out of the Mike’s Sky Ranch road around noon.  Chase 2 and Chase 10 were staged and ready.  It wasn’t until almost 6 p.m. that we saw them.  Chase 5 had helped with a change of GPS some miles back and then we hit a logjam at rm 735.  It took hours to clear the logjam with various race vehicles helping each other get through.  It doesn’t matter what team or what class you were in, everyone pitches in. 

By the time our car was cruising through, we had transferred Bror from Chase 1 in with us and Chase 2 had gone home, we were the last bastion of support on our side of the peninsula with 100+ miles to go.  Our concern now was time, SCORE checkpoints have very specific closing times.  Checkpoint six was set to close at 6:38; at one point, that time had been moved to 5:38 pm, but thankfully Weatherman fought for the time to move back to the six mark and he won.  Our car would have missed the checkpoint.  Checkpoint seven was set to close at 7:09, we were the last car through the checkpoint on time at 6:37.  The last checkpoint was crossed with plenty of time, but now we had to meet the 36 hour deadline, and we still had plenty of mileage to cover. 

We saw the car go past us three different times, after checkpoint 8, there was nothing further we would be able to do for them, so we headed to town, through the twisty mountain pass to meet them at the finish line.  By this time, we had added over 500 pounds to our vehicle and she wasn’t handling beautifully.  It wasn’t a good day to die, so we slowed down and took our time.  Pulling in to Ensenada, we parked and ran for the finish line, and there we waited anxiously for the racecar.  Watching our clocks, we knew that we just had a short window, we hoped our drivers knew that as well.  With a scant three minutes left, they crossed the line.  All of the team was there to greet them.  Finisher pins handed out by SCORE, pictures taken, this is what it is about.  The first finishers in the fastest trucks had finished before dawn that day in less than 24 hours; we were done an hour before the finish line closed, but within our 36 hour time limit.  So proud of our team, it takes everyone to make this kind of effort happen.

While all of our team arrived safely, we listened to Weatherman, the communications guru of the offroad community throughout the race and heard many Code Reds called.  Code Red is the radiospeak for an emergency is in progress.  Our first night out, just after dusk, Code Red had been called for a bike down; the KTM 2X rider was within 100 miles of the finish; he was leading the race; he died that night.  Kurt Caselli was a 30 year old legendary rider, he lost his life in the pursuit of his passion.

It happens every year, someone will die in Baja at the 1000; not often is it a competitor, it usually is a chase crew or spectator, but it happens every year without fail.  All of us going in country know the risk, but we do it anyway.  There is something to be said for being part of an event as epic as the SCORE 1000, for being part of something bigger than yourself, for being surrounded by people who push themselves so hard in pursuit of a goal, for living with that passion.  I can’t wait for next year.