Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: El Cajon, Ca
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I would like to share with you guys the great opportunity I was given to race the Tecate Score San Felipe 250 on the #1A American Honda Pro Quad Team.
First I will start off with a little info on how I got started with racing and Baja-
I have been visiting Baja for most of my life with my family on fun week long trips and more recently in the last few years had spent most of my time in Baja at the Score races. I ended up getting hooked to Baja racing and would go to every race I could to help out my friends and learn as much as I could. I spent many races down there prerunning, prepping and chasing with the McMillin & Scaroni families and learned a lot thanks to them.
In January of 2008 I bought a quad (crazy idea I know!) after riding bikes for the last 8+ years and decided to try racing after talking to Wayne & Kristen Matlock at a family trip to the dunes. After my first race at a local District-38 race I was hooked to racing quads. I ended up racing at about half of the D38 races and continued to improve and learn more about racing quads. It seemed I was more comfortable on the quad than I ever was on the bikes and my speeds picked up and soon I won a couple of races.
And here is what lead me to racing in Baja-
Wayne Matlock called me before the Tecate Score Baja 500 last year and asked if I would like to go down and chase for him. I of course said yes because I can’t pass up Baja and it would give me a chance to learn more about racing down there. I ended up chasing Wayne at both the 500 and the 1000 last year and learned a lot about the amount of work and time it takes to be the best in Baja. At both races I got the chance to ride the new Honda TRX700XX and prerun the first 50 miles with Wayne. I was amazed on how well the quad worked and how much I liked it.
After returning from the Baja 1000, Wayne told me I needed to try riding the Honda TRX700XX at an upcoming BITD race in Henderson, NV so I could see how I liked it. Well I ended up REALLY liking the quad and won my class. Soon after Wayne told me he had talked to Bruce Ogilvie at American Honda about me and said he would like me to ride with him next year in Baja. I got really excited about this news, but was also a little worried because now the pressure was on!
Wayne and I continued to ride as much as possible and started hitting the gym twice a week for training. We also continued to race the local D38 races because they are great training for the whoops in San Felipe. Just three weeks before I was scheduled to start prerunning for the race I crashed while out on a fun ride. I ended up cartwheeling my quad end over end and when I got up my right thumb hurt bad and was starting to swell up. We weren’t finished with our ride so I sucked it up and finished the 60+ miles we still had to go. By the time we got back to the trucks my hand felt better but my thumb was swollen and black & blue. I figured it was just sprained by decided to visit my doctor just in case because San Felipe was coming quick. After the doctor visit and some X-rays I learned I had a broken thumb. Not exactly the kind of news you want to hear just before a race like San Felipe. I told my doctor what my plans were and he fixed me up with a cast so I wouldn’t hurt my thumb anymore before the race and the plan was to visit him just before heading to Mexico so they could take more X-rays and give me a brace I could prerun with.
Now the fun (or work!) began! Due to another racing going on the weekend before the SF250 Wayne and Harold Goodman would not be heading down until the Monday before the race. I had to work the Monday and Tuesday before the race so my plan was to head down the weekend before to get a jump on prerunning my section and see how my broken thumb was going to work out. The day before we headed down I stopped by my doctor and they did some X-rays and removed the cast. My thumb had healed but he still gave me a brace to wear while riding the first weekend if it was bugging me. I picked up my cousin Terrence and a friend on Friday afternoon and we headed to SF. We got to SF just in time for some dinner and then found the house I had rented north of town.
Saturday morning we headed out to race mile 93 at Morelia Junction where I would be getting on the race quad. We were unsure how far I would be able to run while prerunning so we strapped ½ gallon of gas to my back just in case. We checked the radio before I took off and everything was working fine. I also wore the brace my doctor gave me for my thumb and put it on over my riding gloves. After taking off down Morelia Rd we soon realized I could hear my chase truck but they couldn’t hear me, so I would just click the PTT button to let them know I would understand them. Soon I was out of range of the radios and was headed south towards Matomi wash. I was not running TireBalls in the rear tires and after dropping into Matomi wash I got a rear flat. After stopping to fix the flat, I continued on and finished up my section at race mile 170. My chase crew was right on time and we loaded the quad up to go do it all over again.
This time we agreed that I would click twice on the PTT button if everything was ok because the radio was still not working. The thumb brace I wore on the first ride was bugging me and my hand felt good so I stuffed it in my pack and decided to try riding without it to see how it felt. I was off again and before long I had another rear flat. I fixed it and continued on my prerun checking the multiple lines running through the washes. Before I was midway through my second prerun I had three more rear flats and was out of plugs and CO2’s, so I had to ride the last 25+ miles on a rear flat. The flat caused me to eat up more gas than the first ride and I just made it back to the meeting point at race mile 170 before running out of gas. The good news was my thumb felt great after the ride and I never had to put the brace on. We headed back to the house to shower so we could grab some dinner and go check out the town (Terrence had never been to SF before). I was out of CO2’s and felt really good about my two preruns so we decided to just head home Sunday morning rather than try to prerun again and take a chance of getting another flat.
After getting back home that night and unloading my quad I stopped by a friend’s house to pick up Harold Goodman and his wife Jessica so I could take them over to Wayne’s house. We talked about the race plans a little bit and then I headed back home so I could strip my quad back down and get it ready for the next trip. The shocks had felt a little worn down during my prerun so I took them off so I could have Precision Concepts service them. I also rounded up my radio and helmet so I could get those checked. I spent the next couple of days stressing at work and running around on my lunch break to get all the last minute stuff done before heading back down. Mark over at Precision Concepts did an awesome job getting my shocks serviced in time and Mike over at Racer-X spent some time with me trying to figure out what was going on with my radio. We found the jack inside the radio was worn so Mike let me use one of his radios for the race.
Tuesday after leaving work I ran home and finished putting the quad together just before Terrence showed up. We finally got out of town after making a few stops to pick up parts for the race quad that had not gotten there in time for Wayne to take down with him. We arrived that night and found the house that the team had rented north of town. It was a nice house with a large garage for working on the quads. We unpacked our stuff and I made sure my radio and gear was ready for the mornings prerun.
Wednesday morning the team went to breakfast and talked about the prerunning plans for the day. One truck would head north with Harold and my truck would drop me off and then take Wayne to race mile 170 so he could prerun his last section while they waited for me. The course was a lot more tore up from the last weekend and lots of stuff had changed so I took my time looking at everything again. Just before dropping into Matomi wash I managed to get 2 rear flats and so I stopped to try and plug them. I made it about another mile before all the plugs were gone and I had to ride the rest of my section on the 2 rear flats. It was not real fun and I couldn’t get over second gear because I didn’t want to destroy the wheels on all the rocks buried under the sand in Matomi. I finally made it to the pick up point after what seemed like days and was not real happy at that point. We loaded up and headed back to the house so I could change out the tires with some new ones. After changing out the rears at the house I decided to just ride from the house to the local Pemex gas station and just carry a 5 gallon gas can with me to the end of Morelia Road. After the fill up at the gas station, me and my 5 gallon gas can headed down Zoo road towards Morelia Junction and down Morelia Road. When I got to the end of the road where the course turned off I stopped and topped off my gas tank with the 5 gallon can before hiding it behind a bush so I could fill up with it again tomorrow. The new tires worked great and I only ended up with a single flat near the end of my ride and at this point I was feeling a lot better about my section even though I finished up in the dark. That night the team all had dinner at the house and we worked on the quads getting them ready for Thursday’s prerunning.
Thursday I decided I was pretty confident about my section and knowing all the bad areas so I wasn’t going to run mine again until the race. I took Wayne south with my chase truck to race mile 170 so he could run his southern section one more time. My cousin Terrence ended up going with the other chase truck so he could view his visual checks that he would be at during the race. After returning to the house I waited for the rest of the group to return. Wayne showed up first just after lunch time and asked if I wanted to take his Prerunner around my section. I said yes, because his Prerunner had TireBalls and the suspension was set exactly like the race quad we would be running. I stopped at the Pemex station to top off and then rode towards my gas can I had hid the day before. After filling up at my secret hidden gas stop I took off south on my section towards Matomi wash one more time. The quad was working great and I was able to really pick up the pace without having to worry about getting flats in the rocky areas. I ran my section at about ¾ of what I would do at race pace and after finishing up I was really excited about my section and race day. That night the whole team worked on the race quad, finishing the last look over on the bike and installing the stickers.
Friday morning the team went to breakfast before loading the race quad and heading to tech and registration. After a quick stop at registration we all signed in and then headed to tech to get the quad and helmets looked at. We were in and out within an hour and then the whole team headed back to the house to start packing the chase trucks and preparing everything for the race. We got all the trucks packed and readied before dinner and then the riders headed back to town to attend the riders meeting in my truck. After the riders meeting, we loaded my truck with everything Terrence would need for race day and then the whole team went to bed early.
Race morning we were all up before 5 am double and triple checking everything. Everyone was off before 6, headed to each of their areas for the race. Wayne headed to the start line with the quad, Kristen would take Harold to race mile 25 where he would get on, Terrence would take my truck north to Borrego for his visual checks and I would ride with Wayne’s parents to the Zoo road crossing where we would watch Wayne come through before heading west to Morelia Junction where I would get on the quad. Wayne came through Zoo road dead even on time and had not lost any time even with all the dust. By the time he was handing the quad off the Harold the 3A team had gained about 3 minutes on us with a better line. While Harold was off on his section we headed towards Morelia Junction so I could get ready to get on the quad. We arrived before the first bikes came through and after what seemed like hours of waiting (wasn’t that long!) we finally heard Terrence over the radio talking to Harold and telling him he now had a 3 minute lead on the 3A team and were first quad on the road. I was really relieved to hear this because I knew it would be hard to catch and pass someone on my first section.
Soon I could see and hear Harold coming down the course. As he came into the pit, he was diving off one side of the quad while I was jumping on the other. I got the quick headshake that the quad was ok and I was off! My first section down Morelia road was about 10 miles of graded dirt road so I kept the 700XX pinned the whole time at over 80 mph just trying to keep the pace Harold and Wayne had set. At the end of the road I came into the first Honda pit and got a quick fill up before heading into the silt and dune sections towards Matomi wash. I made it to check point 2 with no issues and managed to pass a couple of bikes along the way. I did the quick stop and go at check point 2 before getting into the rocky sections above Matomi wash. I was very careful in this area because the rocks were sharp and could slice open a tire at high speeds. Next I was dropping into Matomi wash side by side with a bike but he decided to give me the right of way and I passed him mid way down the hill.
Matomi wash is one of those famous Baja washes where you get a little bit of everything. The sand is very coarse and hurts when the tires kick it up at you, the rocks are bigger than cars and some are hidden under the sand so that when you hit them they can send you over the bars, there are waterfalls and rock gardens that would challenge most jeeps, so I was planning on taking my time through this section and not make any mistakes. I set a nice steady pace and made sure I stayed away from the rocks so I wouldn’t damage any tires or wheels. By the time I had made it to the end of Matomi I had passed a few more bikes and was lucky enough to have avoided all the rocks.
Just out of Matomi wash was my next Honda pit where I would again grab some more gas and continue on to check point 3. The Honda pits did an awesome job of getting me in and out with the fuel and a quick look over on the quad. From the Honda pit all the way to check point 3 I did not see another single rider and I was really enjoying this section of the course where it worked through the cactus with big sandy whoops. The quad was working great and I was having a blast just pounding through the big sandy whoops like they weren’t even there. Pretty soon I knew I was within range of the radios so I could talk to Wayne & Kristen to let them know I was about 5 minutes out and was just about to check point 3. I told them the quad was working great and had no issues so Wayne would be ready to jump on and go. They radioed back that they heard me loud and clear and told me to watch for spectators driving backwards up the course. Just before reaching check point 3 I started passing trucks going the opposite way up the course but all of them saw me coming and moved out of the way. I did another quick stop and go at check point 3 and radioed ahead to let them know I had cleared and would be to them in a couple of minutes. The last section before I passed the quad off to Wayne at race mile 170 was a wide open two track road and this let me look at all the tires and wheels to make sure everything would be good for Wayne. Everything felt great so I radioed that I was coming in and the quad was in good shape. As I came in I pulled my radio cord and jumped off while Wayne was jumping on. I gave him the thumbs up and he was off towards the finish.
I waited at the rider change with Kristen so we could see how much of a lead we had on the 3A quad. I ended up putting about 6 minutes on the 3A quad in my section and after getting the time split we headed towards the finish so we could try to beat Wayne there. While we were on our way towards the finish, Wayne’s parents were waiting for him about 12 miles from the finish to do a visual check. We made it to the finish in time and I made my way to the finish line to wait for Wayne. We got word that Wayne still had the lead when he passed his parents and he had also gained another 6 minutes on the 3A team. He parents were telling him to slow down as he passed but Wayne continued to push hard all the way to the finish.
As Wayne got the checkered flag I could not tell you how happy I was! We waited around for most of the other Pro quads to finish and we all ended up telling stories about the race at the finish line. I don’t know of any other group of racer like this and it has been really cool to join this quad racing group.
This was something I have been dreaming about for years and it was awesome to finally get the chance to race Score in Baja. It is indescribable on how you feel after winning a race like this. All the weeks of being up until 1-2 in the morning prepping the quads and trucks only to be back at work at 6 am were really worth all the lack of sleep. I was so choked up at the awards I couldn’t even speak.
One of the things I have learned over the last year with the Matlock family is that there is a big misconception about their team. People seem to think that because the Matlock team rides for American Honda that they get everything just handed to them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! I do not know anyone that works harder preparing for a race than this family and you can see it in the results. I couldn’t be happier to be part of this team and to ride and work with such a dedicated group of people.