Pre-running the Baja 1000

1000 miles through the Baja desert is a long way. But in many respects, the race itself has come even farther, especially how the course is designed and mapped. Before the running of each Baja 500 & Baja 1000, Frank DeAngelo, program manager for BFGoodrich Off-Road , and a support crew head to Baja to do a full mapping pre-run of the course.

1Pre-runs are not done at race speeds, but are rather used to develop the detailed map book and related race support information that BFGoodrich teams rely on to guide them through the race.

The map books include comprehensive notes that tell racers where to turn, what to expect around the next bend, and where the next pit is located. The map book also tells support crews on which roads to chase the race and where they can access the course.

"These days the toughest thing is trying not to hurt your vehicle."

-Frank DeAngelo, BFGoodrich

Frank DeAngelo has been involved in course development and pre-runs of the Baja 1000 since 1983.

1 "The biggest difference is the technology," says Frank. "We used to rely on AAA maps and odometers. Now we have GPS and Terratrips."

"Years ago, getting lost during pre-runs was definitely an issue." Today, GPS tells Frank and his crew exactly where they are. As they drive the trail, it's plotted by GPS against a map on the computer to show their precise location and develop accurate race/support maps. Terratrip rally computers have also made a difference in the accuracy of Frank's maps, replacing odometers to measure mileage to within 1/100th of a mile.

2Another change is communication technology. "We used to use UHF/VHF radios that had a range of about five miles - 25 tops - if you were standing on top of a hill." Now the BFGoodrich support efforts depend on satellite radios that are never out of range.

But while technology has made a big difference in how the course is mapped and pre-run, one thing that hasn't changed is the challenge involved in keeping the equipment in one piece. Frank's truck carries a full arsenal of spare parts, and naturally a couple extra BFGoodrich® off-road tires, just in case. There's even a welder wired directly to the alternator for emergency repairs. "These days the toughest thing is trying not to hurt your vehicle." It shows that being fast is only part of the equation. You can't win if you don't have the right equipment to finish the race.

Learn more about the Baja 1000.

Photos Courtesy of Tim Sanchez, Rock On Motorsports