By Andrea Tomba
With this new information and gust of confidence and renewed drive, now with some brakes, we take off on a mission. We power through the silts of Poza Venancio and Santa Fe without a single problem, but with several moments of complete silt blindness, of course. At this pace, we will make up 10 minutes in no time, and it is on! At least it is on for the next 5 miles, before the Black Demon decides to have his own say about being pushed so hard, by breaking an axle.
Pio jumps out to confirm his dreaded instinct, and quickly calls the chase crew to come in and help him change the axle. Now, this isn’t a floating axle, as the truck uses an old school Dana 60 differential, which means that the rear end has to be completely taken apart to get the old axle out and a new one in. As the chase crew start their own adventure in to find us through the silt beds, Pio start the process of taking the rear end apart, and as the temperature has now dropped, and Pio is relieved of his water throwing duties, he uses one of the large water bottles to save all the Reline rear end oil, which he will later filter through a rag to be able to refill the differential once the new axle is in.
The chase crew arrives and immediately it is like watching a concerto, with everyone working in unison, in a perfectly organized chaos to get the job done as quickly and neatly as possible, all in the middle of the desert without adequate or proper tools, as the temperature starts taking a turn towards what we local southern Baja Californians would definitely assess as close to freezing. It is incredible to find out what can be substituted by what in the hands of these magician mechanics.
It is 1:30am, and we are getting strapped in again, surrounded by smiles and pats on the back from the crew whom we have just dragged out to suffer in the desert, and whom will not have to tackle 20 miles of the rough race course before being able to get to better trail that will get them back to the highway.
Even this late at night, or early morning, it is amazing how many people are out to watch the race, many getting up from cuddling next to their bonfires to wave you on and shout encouragements, making you feel like you are spearheading the group, even though the winners are already back in la Paz drinking a hot coffee or a cold Tecate, celebrating with their teams and loved ones. Our loved ones are cuddling up in chase cars, sipping hot coffee whilst trying to find out where we are, and probably praying that we are safe and that we will consider taking up golf or tennis next year!
The remaining 80 or so miles are just a continuous dark dust cloud as we try to overtake as many cars as we can, without taking any risks at this stage, and we finally cross the finish line at 3.00am to be greeted by warm smiles and hugs in a very cold night. The Malecon is again the venue for the finish, and the place to get firsthand accounts of different drivers’ experiences, adventures, challenges and disasters. However, we all have one thing in common. All are smiling, all are happy and proud to have made it to the finish, and it wouldn’t cross anyone’s mind not to do their utmost to be here again next year!
Off-road racing is neither a sport nor a hobby. It is a passion, a lust, an addiction! Golf or tennis? We wouldn’t look good in the funny goofy pants or the white shorts anyway.
The Coyote 300 is the next race in 6 weeks…we’d better start getting ready!
Andrea Tomba has lived in La Paz, BCS since 1994 and started racing off road in 1995. He has since accumulated a Class 6 Championship and 3 consecutive Class 8 Open Championships, as well as accumulating tens of thousands of off road miles by working as a guide for Wide Open Excursion.
Andrea and Pio got third place in the above Dos Mares 500, and are currently in first place in the BCS Off Road Championship.
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