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Hell on Earth (or is it Heaven)

Baja_1000_Toyota_feature Baja, Mexico. From a map, it’s a simple looking peninsula on the western coast of North America. It’s both one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen as well as one of the most dangerous. Host to one of the hardest, most grueling races known to man - The Baja 1000. Baja_1000_Toyota_42 Beginning as a “racecourse” back in1962 when Dave Ekins and Bill Robertson Jr. made history on a couple of Honda Scramblers. Back then, it was a race against the clock, just you and the dirt from Tijuana, Mexico to La Paz (read more about this race's roots in a previous Driving Line article). Baja_1000_Toyota_127 The first organized event didn’t come along until 1967, with the introduction of NORRA National Off-Road Racing Association. At this point it turned into much more of a race against other racers, as they were side-by-side to you racing through the most beautiful countryside.  It has come a long way from its grass roots beginnings, turning into a world-renowned motorsports event. People come from all over the world to test their driving skills, mechanics, and perseverance. Our friend Sal Fish from S.C.O.R.E. now has the duty of overseeing this epic race. Baja_1000_Toyota_49 This particular story begins when a couple of photographers from Long Beach travelled down to Baja to shoot some pictures and test for their portfolios – unsuspecting of what would lay in store. There’s an old saying that, "Whatever the dust of Baja settles on, will always come back" – and it couldn’t be more true. Baja_1000_Toyota_46 These photographers, myself included, ran around the entire peninsula in search of amazement…and that’s exactly what they found. They talked over a few beers and chuckled at the idea of doing the 1000 just to mark it from their bucket list. This race is the granddaddy of them all – and how many people can say they've raced it? Baja_1000_Toyota_65 Life has a funny way of dealing cards - 6 months later those same fellas were putting a cage in an FJ cruiser with plans for the race. They were buzzing with excitement and never really stopped and let sink in all they were getting themselves into. With lots of friends onboard to help, sleepless nights and hard work were spent to finish the car. All the pipes were bent and the car was ready to go – just 1 day before the start of the race. Baja_1000_Toyota_02 Baja_1000_Toyota_108 Baja will show you what you’re made of, testing you every step of the way. It takes a very special sort of person to be able to run this thing…or just an idiot. Support is nearly non-existent – with just you, your vehicle, and your navigator looking at an ever-changing map on the dashboard. Baja_1000_Toyota_04 Baja_1000_Toyota_06 Baja_1000_Toyota_105 Only fate will decide whether you get stuck it the middle of nowhere, with nothing around but cows and cactus - or worse, finding yourself rolling down a cliff side only to be found the next day. Baja_1000_Toyota_10 Baja_1000_Toyota_41 Baja_1000_Toyota_28 Luckily though, that cliff side didn’t have our names on it, although neither did the big win. For these guys it was an experience of a lifetime - never to be forgotten. Baja_1000_Toyota_161 The dust has settled, and in all of them the wanting to go back will always be there. -Tim Sutton Baja_1000_Toyota_162 Baja_1000_Toyota_137 Baja_1000_Toyota_19
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