Baja 1000 Polaris RZR ITP Tires Race Report – Team UTV INC – Johnny Angal
Well as most of you know the last 6 months have be pretty much a whirlwind of new car builds. First with the new 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo (2 seat) that we built in 11 days. We raced it in 3 races, all resulting in top 5 finishes during that time. We also bought another chase truck (#3) and a new flatbed trailer. We are planning on racing the new Polaris RZR /Geiser Brothers spec Trophy Truck next year in Baja and the RZR in the BITD races. So my Team here at UTV INC had an overwhelming task ahead of them for the Baja 1000. Then Polaris released the NEW Polaris RZR Turbo 4 and I had to have one! So I threw that on the guy’s plate also. They had pretty much 2 weeks to build the best, latest, greatest UTV to be racing in the desert. On top of the normal build we also wanted to change some things and add some things that we thought would make it the most capable UTV racing period.
So, I was asking way too much from my guys here but also felt confident that if anybody could make it happen, Boner and Craig would get it done. They never let me down. So we plug away and we get the car built. We get Brandon Sims and Jake Carver on board to race as drivers with us and Nate to co-drive with Branden Sims. As race day approaches I tell Branden he needs to get together with Jake and go down to Baja and pre-run their sections because I just don’t have the spare time to prerun. I need to stay at the shop and make sure things come together. I even offer up to pay 100% of the prerun costs but due to whatever reason they just can’t get it done.
Now with that being said, sure you don’t have to pre run to win a race, but I feel it’s an advantage that you must take. This isn’t UTV Racing in 2008 where 2 to 7 UTVs line up at the starting line and take it easy on equipment for 1000 miles. This is 2015 with some bad ass competition having years of racing and chasing experience in Baja. We are using equipment with 140+ Horsepower, Fox Internal Bypass Shocks, ITP Tires and such that allow us to reach speeds in the area of 90 mph across the roughest terrain in the world. Our main objective is keeping the car moving and staying alive. If you think you are fast, there is always somebody faster. So if given the opportunity to do something you can to be better, you take it!!!
I normally start the race but I’m going to wait till race mile 585 to get in the car. I know I don’t have time to prerun but I have raced and prerun most of the course from San Felipe to the finish line this year.
The build goes well with the new Polaris RZR Turbo 4 but we are crunching to get everything done the night before we are supposed to head to Baja. The car has 1 mile on the odometer just like when it came off the delivery truck. We really don’t have any time to test but we are pretty confident we know what we are doing. We have had great results with the Polaris RZR XP Turbo 2 seat car we built and raced over 1000 miles.
Loaded and ready at 5 AM and off to Ensenada. We have 14 guys, 4 chase trucks, 2 trailers, 1 race car and 1 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 we will use in the event of having to get to the race car in a remote part of the race course. We think we have a pretty good plan, race radios in chase trucks, spare parts, spare tires, spares of everything and then some. We have 4 satellite phones for the race car and the chase trucks, oh shit… we have 1 race car and 4 trucks. I panic, I forgot to order a satellite phone for Brandon’s chase truck! I quickly realize his truck will only pit the car once and then be following the race car and 1 of my chase trucks across the peninsula so they should have radio communications 90% of the time.
We stop for breakfast in Yuma and cross the long way to Ensenada via Mexicali and around 2 PM we are unloading the new race car for tech inspection. We pass fine and head over to the hotel and drive around looking for a safe spot to park 4 trucks with trailers. Finally Juan Carlos with Baja Voyager comes out to the street, introduces himself to me and tells me we can park in his reserved spots and he will also have his guys watch our stuff all night!! Thank you so much Juan Carlos!!
We check in, get in the always scary elevator, kind of worse than the one at the Tower of Terror at Disney Land but we make it to our rooms. Yeah that elevator is some pretty sketchy shit but if you ever want an uneasy feeling check into room 410, LOL. You can lay in the bed and feel the whole freaking hotel shake all night long.
Up early so we go back to the beach to go over the race car one more time. My buddy Rodger who has flown in from North Carolina to hang out and help us goes over ever nut and bolt on the car for 3 hours. The Sims crew has been missing for about 2 hours and they tell us they went to get their 2 way radio reprogrammed with a UTV INC race channel, bad thing is they have no GPS in their truck and a GPS is a MUST have for chasing in Baja!
I tell Brandon, Nate and Boner lets go prerun the first 30 miles and see how this car is going to work. I take off with Brandon following and the car is a little slow but running fine. It seems the further we go as the motor breaks in the faster it gets and that makes me feel a lot better. Prerunning is done so we go back, load up the cars on the trailer and head over to registration. All goes and I knock out a fast interview, the guys interviewing me tell me “I tell it as it is” and he wished more people had a little more gusto. We are off to the new hotel, I ask Sims if he will go to the 7 PM drivers meeting and we will go find and check in to the next hotel as well as get everything loaded in the right trucks for race day. LOL. Speaking of right trucks I now have three and they are chase 1-2-3. 1 has the black logo on the door, 2 has the silver logo on the door and three has gold logo on the door. That is also the order I bought them in. But who fucking cares right? So my guys renumber them at will and fuck everything up. So think about it, our satellite phones are numbered to go with the trucks, our SPOT trackers are numbered to go with the trucks, and the whole race plan is numbered to go with the trucks. However If you pick up my freaking cell phone and call ‘Chase Two’ they will tell you “Sorry this is Chase One.” LOL flipping dorks remembered two trucks but not the rest of the system!!
Anyway, race day is why you are all reading this right? That’s all you really are wondering about right? What the hell happened at the race Johnny!?!?!?
Race day we are starting fifth off the line with Brandon Sims driving and Nathen McFarland sitting right seat. Chase 1 and 4, or maybe its 2 and 4, head down the coast. Chase Two is pitting at race mile 200 and Chase Four is pitting at the driver change at race mile 350. Branden and Nate will get out and Jacob Carver and Craig Hammar will get in. They are in Chase 3 and 2, or maybe its 3 and 1, anyway they will head to race mile 27 leaving town to make sure all goes well with the start. We won’t be needing to be there until race mile 585 which is 4-5 AM where Boner and I will get in to finish off the race. We are feeling really good about the speed of the new Polaris RZR XP Turbo car and our upgrades so we drop off Brandon and Nate, get them in the car they head to the staging area. We head to race mile 27ish for the drive by and we hear them call on the radio UTV INC race is off the starting line. A little while later they fly past us and report the car is running great and we are now already in 3rd position! Now they have to meander through the desert and back over to the coast. We’re Chase 3, and yah I’m not sure, 1 and 2 head down to the gulf side. I get to race mile 585 and set the truck up for the night and chase whatever truck goes down to Cocos corner around mile 525 to fill the car with fuel and fix anything that is needed when the race car comes across the peninsula. Before the guys are supposed to pit at race mile 200 we get a call that our auxiliary lighting is not working on the car so we brain storm. It could be this, it could be that, check this, check that etc. etc. About 30 minutes later we get a call that the silt was so bad it had covered the lights 100% and so thick that no light was emitting from them.
Also around race mile 170 we get a call and we are now leading the race, awesome!! Brandon keeps charging hard, he gets a flat tire and after a quick tire change they stay in the lead. They take the car to race mile 350 where they get out and Jacob and Craig get in. The chase crew changes another flat they got in the silt beds, a bent radius rod, an axle change due to a tore boot, air filter and they have to blow out the radiator due to it being plugged by some of the worst silt beds in Baja’s history.
They get the pit done and they take off still in the lead. Around race mile 440 they break one of our long travel, aftermarket axle shafts and as the car bounces up and down the broken end of the shaft repeatedly punches holes through our frame and into the stock transmission until it breaks the transmission case and they lose all the gear oil as well as the main ring gear drops out of its pocket and starts eating our transmission like its nothing.
No problem, right? We are prepared for these kinds of unnatural disasters. Jeremy and the chase team in Chase One have everything they need to get us up and running. Brandon’s Chase truck number 4 is also following the car down the coast, so we will get this fixed in a couple of hours and get back in the race no problem.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Full on Ringling Bros Barnum Bailey Circus commences but without the big top. Yep, you guess it, I’m the ring leader! Get a load of this shit, yup, go get another beer and some snacks this shit will blow your mind!
Chase Truck 1 has my Polaris RZR XP4 1000 on a trailer behind it for this type of situation. Sims, Chase 4, should be no more than 30 miles down the highway to be able to get back to the race car and make repairs. Jeremy unloads the chase RZR about 25 miles from the race car. He grabs tools, jacks, transmission, axles, etc. and jumps in the Chase RZR to make his way through the darkness to the race car with the parts. Guess what? I forgot to tell them to fill up the Chase RZR with gas after we went prerunning so he can’t even get to the car, great. I also forgot to carry spare gas in the truck for reasons like this. I’m a dumbass! Jeremy heads out and buys 5 gallons of gas from the guys at MAG 7 pits. Thank you so much! He gets out to the race car and Craig and Jacob almost have the transmission out of the car with the tools they have in the race car. They can’t go any further because we don’t have the Torx wrench that is required to remove the transmission/engine plate in the car. Yeah, really… Jeremy does not have one either. So he heads back to the truck and when he arrives he realizes he will not have enough fuel to get back to the race car. Oh yea, really. Our chase truck 4 never arrives because they forget they are a chase truck and are supposed to be following the race car and they headed over the one way road as soon as Brandon was done racing. So we really could have got away with not having that truck at all. Well as Lady Luck would have it Jeremy has to load the Chase RZR back up and head to the nearest gas station to get fuel. Low and behold there is one right around the corner! NO, NO, NO, not really. There is not a 7-11 on every corner! We are in Baja Mexico and the closest gas station is two and a half hours away, one way!!!! So yes, I know you just read that again and yep it is still a 5 hour round trip for gas. So somehow they broke down around 2 AM and 12 hours later they were just getting the race car back to the chase truck. Sad thing about all of this is the guys in Chase Truck 4 that pretty much abandoned the race car and the other chase crew had 5 gallons of gas in the gas jug sitting in the back of their truck. That 5 gallons of gas would have allowed the chase RZR to get back to the Race RZR to make the repairs and finish the race. Anyway, around 5 PM the chase truck with the broken race car arrives and we head to San Felipe for the night. Our race has long been over.
Now with less than two weeks we need to do a major rebuild on the race car to repair all the damage from the broken axle shaft. We need to make new body panels and get a new window net made as somebody slide the car into a tree in the silt beds. We also need to install a new transmission, install new axles, etc. etc.
We have had a pretty shitty year with aftermarket broken axles and we are now working with some of the top tier companies in the business to figure out these issues. I want axles that will survive a race. We have learned a lot and will be implementing all we can into our race efforts in Score and Best In The Desert. We have one more race next week to finish out the year, wish us luck and Happy Holidays!