Race Day: San Felipe, Baja, California – Mexico: Shaffer Motorsports is running a Class 10 car, 254 miles, most of which is north and west of San Felipe, our job is communications. We actually do this often (at least annually) for the Shaffer team. In theory, our job is to track the car, provide updates to the pit crews, and updates to the driver about his competitors. We are pretty good at it most days, with a TelCel card; laptop; AT&T phone service; Spot Tracker; PCI Race Radios and a mast, we can keep track of most of what is going on.
Today, I felt helpless. We had picked a spot on the top of the hill between the north and south loops of the race; just after the split off of Highway 5 to Highway 3 – most of us call that section Three Poles. The first thing we did was raise the mast for the radio, as we were doing that, our friend Mariah picked up and broke our mast in three places. We lowered it and set up as best we could. We know from past experience that the radio in the race car is weak, so without the tall mast, we couldn’t hear them. Fail #1.
The spot we picked had AT&T service, so we could communicate by text with some of the pit crews and by phone with some of the others. So that was acceptable. What it didn’t have was 3G service so the laptop would work, so I wasn’t able to watch the IRC tracker, Fail #2. Thank goodness for updates from our stateside helper, Sarah.
Our race team has two race channels Shaffer 1 which the race car stays on; Shaffer 2 which is designed for the pit teams to talk to each other to keep the chatter down so we don’t distract the driver and co-driver. Several of our pit teams only had Shaffer 1, so we had to talk to them there. Fail #3.
We tracked and followed the race team until they were within 15 miles of the finish line, then headed in to town to see them cross. It is always exciting to see the finish of a race, especially in Baja where the challenges are enormous. Pleased to see our drivers in one place, imagine my surprise when Shaffer touched my shoulder and thanked us for being there. He said hearing us call the updates, even though they couldn’t respond helped to motivate him and keep his head in the game. I guess maybe we didn’t fail after all. Congrats to the Shaffer #1066 on another successful race effort, thanks for letting us be a part of it.