|After a day of rest, John Barnes, I, and our support team went out to Chapala around 11:00 AM. On the way we
stopped at Cocos and where we decided to make a change in the logistics plan. As it turned out the MAG 7 Pit was
located quite a ways north of Cocos Corner and it made more sense for us to do the tire/wheel and air filter changes at
the Chapala Baja Pits where we were doing the rider change and putting on the big lights. The people at Baja Pits were
great and very helpful. They had John and I sign all their Baja Pits T-shirts and pose for pictures with them. Unfortunately
Baja Pits had some difficulty with radio communications at a few of the early checks but we did get some good status on
303X progress at the pit before us. (Footnote: This race was very different for me from the the early races where we did
not have to deal with the trophy trucks, long whooped out sections and lots of spectators and racer wannabes on the
Bill Hitchon was there long before Curt came in running just the number plate light. Too bad he did not have the double
lights on when he hit Highway 1 as they were excellent. Bill and took the lead role for the pit activity and the headlight /
air filter swap. My old friend Bryon Farnsworth and Ove, a pal of ours from Sweden, was there to do the tire/wheel
change, As background, Bryon was my co-rider in the 1976 Baja 500 where I ended my earlier racing career with a
broken back and was airlifted out to the States.
In anticipation of bikes seat height giving my short legs some problems in picky stuff, Bill took the taller seat off the race
bike and put a lower seat on from one of the spare bikes he had in his well equipped chase truck. When Curt came in he
told us about the problems he had with the bike stalling at low speeds and the difficulty restarting it. Bill quickly made
some carb adjustments set the idle up and sent me on my way. As a whole the rider change and pit activity went very
smooth. (Footnote: There were a large number of Pits and spectators at Chapala. More bikes were coming and people
were waiting for the first Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars, which arrived about 15 minutes after I left Chapala.)
The ride in to Cocos was uneventful and smooth, I saw no other bikes and was not passed. At Cocos it looked like a small
city with all the lights and a lot of people including many of my friends and neighbors from Gonzaga Bay. Then things
began to change, the rocky whoop section leading to Calmaje wash was ugly and had changed significantly since the
pre-run 2 days earlier.
In the wash I had some difficulty at the first significant water crossing where the line thru the water and mud was really
torn up and ugly. Anyway, I picked the wrong path I stalled it in a shallow streambed. I was trying to restart it when the first
Trophy truck came thru and gave me an unplanned shower.
The stalling and difficulty starting problems continued thru my section. At one point I stalled it trying to get out of the
way of a Trophy Truck and could not get it to start even after kicking it a lot. The battery would not kick it over even with
the compression release in. Fortunately there were some Mexicans camping out further up the wash and they had a set of
jumper cables and it restarted right away and I was able to make my way out of the wash and onto that now whooped out
road toward El Crucero
By then I had been passed by the leading trophy trucks, a Canadian entry on a 4WD quad that was really flying, and by
my old riding partner Ron Bishop who apparently passed me during one of the times I was having stalling/starting
problems. What a pal.... he just kept on going. We all look the same in the dark!!!!. I did keep an eye out for the lights
from trophy trucks coming up from behind and tried to give them room to pass.
When I arrived at the the Baja Pits at El Crucero about an hour later than planned, Bill Hitchon was there to go over the
bike again, change the seat for John and make more carb adjustments, including doing a spectacular in-gear burn-out in
the pits. John Barnes was suited up and ready to go. Bill and my son Troy who was John's chase driver left immediately
for the LA Bay road crossing.
As planned Tom and I returned to Chapala to follow the course on into Cocos and onto Gonzaga Bay. We got back there
around 3:00 AM and tried to contact someone to get a status report but were unsuccessful. We had to wait for John and
Troy to get back to Gonzaga the following morning before we learned anything.
For my part it was a great fun filled experience that I will always remember and it was a pleasure to have been a part of
our prestigous and talented finishing team. Jim, I really appreciate your leadership, hard work and the support that you
generously provided, You did an amazing job!!!!
You may want to check out the story entitled "Baja 1000. Veteran Reminices" in last weeks on line issue of the Gringo
Gazette North at gringogazettenorth.com. The article was written by a neighbor of Malcom and myself who has a place
in Alfonsinas at Gonzaga Bay. I understand she is doing one on Malcom as well and another article on a female's
perspective on the Baja 1000 experience.
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|I arrived in Gonzaga Bay on Tuesday 11/6 a
week before the race and was soon joined by John Barnes
and our Chase Drivers; my son Troy (OTB) Hansen and
long time friend Tom Green. John, Gerritsen, Curt 9, when
we all laid out plans for pre-running. I pre-ran my section
from Chapala to El Crucero on the next two days as John
worked on his. Tom and I met up with two really nice guys
from Texas pulling a horse trailer who were staying in
Gonzaga and wanted to prerun that section We spent some
time together riding the the whoops and checking out the
water holes and mud areas in the infamous Calmaje Wash
and onto El Crucero as well as drinking a few post-ride
beers at Cocos.