Tuesday, November 19, 2013

calling stirling moss

Yesterday was day two of the Baja 140 -- now renamed the Baja 307 to take account of our return mileage.

And it gave two of my inner personalities a chance to battle for which would be king for the day.  My racing spirit of Mario Andretti or the photographic muse of Ray Atkeson.

I will cut the suspense for you.  Mario won.  I know from past experience that taking photographs from a moving vehicle is a less than satisfactory experience.  And when that vehicle is racing over bumpy terrain, no photographs are going to be blog-worthy.

There are at least three problems.  Speed causes blurring.  Two foot bounces prohibit framing.  And the dust.  The dust simply ruins cameras.  So, I apologize in advance for the lack of photographs.

Having said that, yesterday has to be one of the most exhilarating days of my life.  Darrel decided we should retrace as much of the Baja 1000 course as we could. 

The bottom line is that we were able to drive about 10% of some of the roughest portions of the course.  As a result, I have nothing but admiration for what the racers.  They overcome some very dire circumstances at amazing speeds.

Let me give you two examples.  The course is filled with dry silt.  Not sand. Not even dust.  Finer than dust.  About the consistency of talcum powder.

And thick enough that even the most-experienced professional could easily high center his vehicle.  I told you yesterday that the Meyers Manx -- the car John and I were assigned to -- lost its brakes before we left the Pacific coast.

That made driving down the chutes of silt very interesting.  It was almost like a toboggan run.  With the exception that the “snow”would suddenly burst into clouds of vision-erasing clouds.

We took the silt at a fast, but reasonable, pace.  The Baja 1000 drivers blast through the stuff -- often completely oblivious to what may appear in front of them.

But the silt was nothing compared to the rocks we encountered -- the second example.  The mountains on the portion of the course we ran are made of solid rock with very little top soil.  That means that any roads cut through are going to be strewn with loose rock and have an exposed foundation of boulders.

In some areas, it looked as if we were descending a river bed.

In others, passage seemed next to impossible.

But we did pass.  Overall, we spent about eleven hours on the road.  Most of the time was spent working our way through the torn up course.  And it was more fun than I could ever have imagined.  Or did I already tell you that?

One benefit of the trip was a quick stop at the famous Mike’s Sky Ranch -- where we had a pleasant Mexican meal before we started the most exciting portion of the descent to the Pacific.

I suspect my new camera may have become a victim of this little adventure.  It was not designed to withstand repeated clouds of silt.  And it is not very happy.

But it was happy enough to send this photograph along to you.  Proof positive that this was a great trip through the Baja mountains.


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