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196 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Joe Ramos and the 3A team take 3rd Pro ATV in the 2014 Baja 1000 Part 1 of 3


This is to be my final race before I retire from racing and a dream come true if my team and I can complete the brutal test of the Baja full peninsula terrain. I started planning for this race about 2 years ago, to correspond with my additional week of vacation time with my job and the full peninsula run. I have been researching and studying maps and surfing the web for all info on this race. I have been racing for over 20 years and competed in the pro class of dirt bikes and ATV’s at almost every major desert racing event in the southwest except the Baja 1000. This was the one race I have never attempted and with a couple of Baja 250’s and a few Baja 500’s under my belt it is a must before I retire from competition. With this huge feat I knew that I had to have a few must have items. I need a dedicated team of riders and crew that are just as passionate as I am about Baja “If you are not with me for this you are just in my way”, and we need a brand new race machine.

Midyear I started recruiting my Baja 1000 team, myself Joe Ramos, my long time friends Chris Wilson, Adam Barnes, my good buddies from New Jersey Mike and John Zelenka, and I asked my friend and Best in the Desert Teammate Trent Kendall but he declined but recommended Tristan Jones a expert level rider that had never been out of the US let alone raced in Baja. Tristan came highly recommended from Trent and he seemed very interested and was down to go. So I had my team in place for riders. Now the hard part…. getting the chase support team lined up to go down to Baja for at least a week and coordinating some team members for over 2 weeks.

I was focused on the Best in the Desert Season until a transmission failure during the Vegas to Reno race prematurely ended our season in august this year, my focus now became the BAJA 1000. While in Las Vegas for the Vegas to Reno race I found a prospective Baja race machine that was a dealer bank repo of a brand new 2012 Honda TRX 450. The price was great for an unmolested machine and it was brand new so I picked it up on the drive home.

We had a Baja team meeting after coming back from the V2R race while the Jersey boys were in town. We got people lined up for chasing and set up our plan to pre run for a few days prior to the race and complete the race and then have the wives and girlfriends fly into Cabo San Lucas for a few days of vacation after the race. Then a nice 4 day drive back north to Phoenix.

With this plan in place we had to sort out what was going to be on the bike and what riders were going where. We came up with a plan to break the team into 2 groups the north team of Adam and Tristan and the rest of the team doing the south. The north team will run the 1st 430 miles of the 1275 mile course leaving 2/3’s of the peninsula for the south team.

The team had come up with a plan that the motor will remain stock except the factory Honda racing kit AKA HRC kit which yields about a 20-25% increase in performance all around but will maintain the factory reliability, Next we wanted to put on the current best suspension components on the market. For that we contacted LONESTAR Racing. LSR provided us with the Axle, A Arms, steering stem, Swing arm and rear shock linkage all bolted to Elka Stage 5 long travel shocks to create a Baja terrain devouring reliable machine. GBC helped us out with their 6 ply XC Master tires. Rudy at DFR installed the HRC kit and did the engine tune and break in and had her purring like a kitten. Sam at DFR slapped a sweet graphics kit on the new bike and had her looking sharp. Spider grips took care of us with their awesome dual layer grips, Moose racing set me up with all our fluids, my riding gear and our bad ass tool bag. Pro Armor stepped up with our skid plates and grab bar, Rigid industries lights lit up the night section, Tim at wolf snout sent a box of the very best racing breathing system available for all the riders, Jason at A to Z print works hooked it up with team shirts, Uni filters kept the machine breathing fresh clean air all race long. IMS products came through with an oversized desert tank for the long journey. We also have support from motorcycle mall, All Purpose Fabrication, Ross outdoors, United Distributing, XX ARMY, Mobile Car Dr, SW Aerial covered the photos for the team. You can Facebook just about any of the rider’s names for all the photos.

We spend the next few weekends building and prepping the chase trucks, pre runners and the race bike for this huge adventure. This also included some Dust to Glory watching, some beer drinking and kicking up dust from all the previous races and past experiences to help get our Baja rookie Tristan up to speed about riding in Baja.

Next task is chase crew planning. The chase crew has the toughest job of the team, long hours, no pay, grumpy riders, and extremely dangerous jobs. My chase team consisted of my good friend Andre that grew up in La Paz. His family offered the use of their house in Ensenada for the north team and a house in La Paz for the rest of the team. Patrick Dull chase driver for rider Chris Wilson, my long time friend Bill Gadberry who told me 10 years ago if I ever race the Baja 1000 peninsula run he would be there no matter what and he owned up to his word and flew out from Georgia. My Buddy Slick Rick from Florida who is always down for anything flew out as well for the pre run and race. To assist the north team my brother Anthony Ramos and long time friend Ryan White stepped up to the task of chasing the north team.

Pre run day 1. The south team set out on Nov 8th for 5 days of travel and pre running the course, we drive out on Saturday and make it through the border with minor issues, and we had to pay a fee to bring our USED ATV tires into Mexico weird. We make it to Gonzaga Bay camp beachside for the night to get an early start.

Pre run day 2. Sunday’s ride to Bay of LA. The plan goes well for about 20 miles and we end up with 2 flats on the support Rzr 900 by Coco’s corner. Rocks got caught up in the rim and brake caliper then punched a hole in the rim and we had to make repairs. We pounded out the holes in the rims and patch them up with some JB weld and remount the tires. We had some Lunch with Coco and headed to the Bay of La with much higher tire pressure in the RZR. We camped in the trucks again on the beach in the bay of LA for the night

Pre run day 3. Monday. Bay of LA to RM 655, started out good for about 20 miles then more flats but this time on a Pre run ATV, we plug it up and then in about 5 miles the same tire lost the plugs. We ended up having to turn the wheel around to keep the plugs from getting pushed into the tire with the rotation of the wheel, after that no issues. The course was fast from the Bay of LA to RM 655. We met up with a broken down dirt biker out of tubes and air to repair a flat. We lend a hand to the solo rider then continue on to RM 655. Next leg is from 655 to 710 the dreaded silt section so we wanted to do this section with some light to pick out some good lines around the silt. And it was bad but we all made it though and headed to RM 710 to meet the chase trucks for the night.

Pre run Day 4. Tuesday RM 710 to San Ignacio then to RM 915, again issues on this short section plagued our team. The pre run quads make it through with ease but the razor is nowhere to be seen. We get word that the Rzr is broke down at RM 718 so the chase truck headed back to get them. This debacle ended up taking a good chunk of our time to make it to RM 915 that day so we bypass it after they recover it and head to our camp spot at Conception Bay on the Sea of Cortez.

Pre run Day 5. Wednesday. Loreto to RM 1082. Not very far into this section we lost a transmission on one of the Pre run Quads, so we called it a day, we had to be in La Paz to meet up with some of the Chase crew that was flying in to Cabo and taking a Bus to La Paz. We will have to take it easy on race day for the sections we did not pre run.

will always be down for a ride on any Sunday.


196 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part 2 of 3

Race Day, Early 3 am start for the southern team to make the trek back up to the Bay of LA by 4:30pm race time to meet the north team. All seems well until we check the live tracking and notice they have been stopped for a while. We break out the Sat phones and contact the north team. They inform us that they had the lug nuts come off the bike and the wheel flew down a mountain.

North Team race day. They get off to a great start running for about 140 miles without any issues until the lug nut issue. Tristan is the rider during this section and has to rappel down a mountain to retrieve the wheel. Tristan watches all the quads pass him as he gets the wheel back on the bike and steals a lug nut off of each of the other 3 wheels. Tristan gets the bike to the pit 2 at race mile 159 where the north chase crew gets it all back in tip top shape. They have to change a rear hub as the hub was damaged and broke a wheel stud when the wheel came off. Adam and Tristan have smooth sailing riding different sections of the race course all the way to RM 430 where the north team and the south teams meet up and form VOLTRON!! LOL. The teams do an extra long pit to ensure everything is perfect. They notice the rear hubs are loose and they make quick work getting it snug again.

RM 430 to 525 Chris Wilson gets on the machine way past dark but the Rigid industry light bars illuminate the night with authority. Chris blazes through his section that had fairly high speed section through the desert from RM 430 though Coco’s Corner followed by a ton of small water crossings through a gnarly wash and whoop section, finally ending with a 30 mile section of a SLAB speed zone. During the pre run Chris made short work on this section and on race day has no issues either.

RM 525 Bay of LA to RM655, Joe Ramos on the machine. The crew at Bay Of LA does a thorough check of the machine and finds the rear hubs are loose again. We sung them up and he is off. We now make this a mandatory check at all pit stops. Into the darkness with the down time of the extended pit stops to snug up the axle hubs we are waiting for the trophy trucks to catch up to the rider at any time. Joe Is on the bike and has been brain washing the riders all week to be easy on the bike to make it to the finish! The team has too much blood, sweat and tears into this race to DNF. During this section I have to back off the throttle a bit to save the bike. There were plenty of places to hold her wide open, but I did not want to risk all the time, money and effort wrapped up in this project so I maintain a nice pace without bouncing the machine of the rev limiter. I catch and pass a few sportsman quads that passed us during the tire dismount earlier during the race, and start to reel in the 2nd place pro quad team. With no issues during my 130 mile section I bring her in to the pits at race mile 655 about the ½ way point for a scheduled heavy maintenance pit stop for air filters, chain lube and adjustment, rider change, tire change, hub check, oil and filter change as well as a transmission fluid change to boot. I get off the bike and within a minute the 1st trophy truck was racing though. Team Voltron get this extended pit stop knocked out in record time for all the service they did to it. Next up the 1st of the Team Jersey!

RM 655 to 735 Mike Zelenka is on the machine and is in one of the most dreaded places a handlebar rider can be, the Silt Beds, but luckily the pre running we did days before was for the better as Mike killed his section and had ZERO silt bed Issues and he also had one of the most grueling hill climbs up the side of a volcano into RM735 San Ignacio. He makes it to our pit in great time.

RM 735 to 915, the other Jersey Boy Johnny “Baja” Zelenka. Johnny Baja jumps on the race bike once the crew get the hubs tightened up, do an air filter change and a good once over. This section is 180 miles and is the longest section we have for any of the riders. This is the section we skipped during our pre run. Johnny Baja comes though clean without any issues and during the deepest darkest times of the night where Baja starts to break down your mind from about 4 am to 6 am Johnny Baja comes in with a rear flat tire.

RM 915 to 960 the pit crew hit the hubs again and change the tire , Chris Wilson gets back on the bike for his last section of the race and has a really strong ride though the roughest part of this year’s race course crossing in and out of some of the washes that moved all the rain from the hurricane from the mountains back to the sea ,littering the trail and washes with huge boulders and not to mention with trophy truck and class 1 cars breathing down his neck he manages to hold them off for his last section.

At Rm 960, we wanted to do an air filter and change the tire with a matching rear wheel and tire. I see a mobile tire shop in the back of a truck. We call him over and for $5 bucks he swapped our good tire on the bad rim that Tristan lost at RM 140 with a good rim that had a bad tire all in the back of a truck! Mexico is so awesome! While at RM 960 we ran into the Yuma team 109A of Juan and Alonzo Dominguez and they were having their own issues of a broken stock swing arm which is really hard to do. The guys had our pit set up and ready so I jumped in and gave the Yuma boys a hand getting their bike back together with a new swing arm. Once fixed, they headed out about 2 minutes in front of our team. Unfortunately the Yuma boys would only continue to race mile 1150 before they lost the transmission in their machine.

RM 960 to 1080 Jersey Mike Back on the bike in a section that still had water crossings ¾ of the way up the motor of the bike and was some of the best riding in Baja for Mike. Mike picked his way though and brought the bike in clean. Ready for the air filter and hub check, the pit crew had a miscalculation and almost missed this pit. The crew seen the error and made the corrections and got Johnny Baja to the correct location for him to do the rider change at RM 1080 with a few minutes to spare.

RM 1080 to 1180. Johnny Baja back in action again in one of the toughest spots in Baja. We don’t call him Johnny Baja for nothing. He came in chanting “and whoops and rocks and whoops and rocks “so I guess there were a few whoops and rocks in his section…… and with a broken light bar bracket and flat rear tire. And guess what else? Yup you got it, loose rear axle hubs. We had heard on the radio from the other chase crew that the light bar bracket was broken , so we planned on doing an extended pit stop here to ensure everything is in perfect order. This is the very last rider change and the last time we will be able to service the bike for the last 110 miles to the finish. We knock out the light bar bracket, change the flat tire, tighten the chain, lube the chain and do a quick air filter change. We go to fire up the bike and it turns over but won’t start, I start to worry that maybe we ran her too hard on the flat sections and maybe smoked the valves. It turned out to be just the rider kill switch tether has failed. We get it bypassed and the bike fires right up and I take off for the last 110 miles of my racing career.

RM 1180 to the checkered flag…….
Joe Ramos piloting the race machine to the finish. As I head out I get about 2 miles out and hit some of the worst Silt beds I have ever been though. 2-3 feet deep two track silt beds through turns and full of whoops. I make my way though and get stuck.I quickly get the 3A machine going again and vow to do my best NOT to get stuck again.

While battling through the few more miles of silt I find myself in a section that I have to really get on the gas and get my ass on the back of the quad to keep her moving. As I pushed the machine to its limits I feel a clunking in the drive chain like the bike chain is skipping a tooth on the sprockets. I get out of the silt beds and into a Baja pit and I do a look over and don’t see anything odd with the drive line so I continue on blazing though the thousands of Baja fans lined up the coast camping, cooking , drinking, partying. I start making my way east to La Paz and turn up the throttle a bit I can feel some wiggling in the back end. I pull in to the very last Baja pits location at RM 1248 I look and check to see if anything is obvious and cannot make out the source of the wiggling so I continue on to the finish but take it down a notch to save the bike as every time I hit the whoops hard or stay on the gas the back end of the bike starts handling funny.

As I make my way on to the last 4 miles pavement to the finish line, I start to get a lump in my throat thinking that In 4 miles I will no longer be doing the very thing that has driven me to be the person I am today, love and hate blend into one huge emotion…but soon that sadness turns to joy as I run though the last chicane to the checkered flag where I see the smiles of the team that helped me make my dream come true and to retire on such a milestone in my racing career. We have just completed the 2014 Baja 1000. My team has fought hard for 1275 grueling, merciless, unforgiving miles in 36 hours and 36 minutes of chaos, pandemonium and confusion for a respectable 3rd place ATV pro finish in the longest off road point to point race in the world. There are thousands of people are there to see us cross that finish line. This is not for the weak, this is not for the unprepared, this is not for the faint, THIS IS LA BAJA……………

196 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Part 3 of 3

Post race the team was given over 5 hours of penalties for virtual check point deviations. This it did not change the final finish positions and we truly believe that our tracking device malfunctioned or the software tracking system failed. In order to have that many penalties we would have had to miss over 50 check points , not to mention Score changed the course 6 times while we were already in Mexico Prerunning days before the race but all that doesn’t matter because we made it. After we loaded the race bike up in the truck we found the source of the wiggling back suspension. The swing arm/motor mount bolt had broken in half lol. And the skipping of the chain may have been the stock clutch, it never happened again.

The team met up with all rest of the families in Cabo San Lucas for a few days of R&R, whale watching. Snorkeling, sunbathing and just enjoying the days off. Then the start of our 4 day journey home begins, enjoying all the small villages and secluded beaches on the relaxing peaceful drive back north to Phoenix Arizona.

SOOOOOOO many people to thank for making my dream come true
First off my amazing wife Jamie of 14 years. Jamie Ramos has been my back bone though my racing career from the first days of going to the races with her family when we were kids just dating over 24 years ago, to supporting my crazy dual sport off road adventures. Jamie has always encouraged me to follow my heart and dreams and to never let anything get in the way.

My team and crew these are my heroes
Chris Wilson
Adam Barnes
The Jersey Boyz
Mike Zelenka
Johnny “Baja” Zelenka
Tristan Jones
Bill Gadberry
Slick Rick Rickard
Andre Alvarez
My bother Anthony Ramos
Ryan White
Patrick Dull

Sponsors Special Thank you
Lone Star Racing
Moose Racing
GBC Tires
IMS Products
DFR Racing
Sam at DFR Graphics
Spider Grips
Pro Armor
UNI Filters
Elka Shocks
Mobile Car Dr
Ross Outdoors
All Purpose Fabrication
South West Aerial
A to Z Print works
Wolf Snout
Rigid Industries
Motorcycle Mall
United Distributing

Not a sponsor but shout out to Justin at Trail Tech super helpful and great products

Other Shout outs
All the friends and Families of our team that purchased Team T-shirts from us to help support us
Rich Glasgow for all the pre runner and chase truck help
Kendall Racing for the US Tracking support

Although I have officially retired from full season racing commitments I will still continue to support the sport by helping in the pits, available freelance rider, mentor younger riders, help teams plan/logistics for Score races or BITD races and will always be down for a ride on any Sunday.
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