Ensenada, Baja California
The 45th annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 was a brutally tough race. The course travelled through sandy washes, rocky mountain trails, tight switchbacks and deep silt. The only spot where drivers could let out a breath were the sections run on the beach. Depending on the hour of the day, or night, some had thick fog along the beach that made those sections nail biters too. The Shaffer Motorsports team got their fair share of racing but it was their results that left them wanting more.
“We had a good race in the Transfer Case Express car,” said Mike Shaffer, “We are just a little discouraged that our results don’t show it. Our goal was to get a solid finish and not lose points to our rivals in the World Championship of Desert Racing standings. Both of which we accomplished. We only had a single flat and stopped for an hour fixing our steering but otherwise it was a problem free run.”
Mike was driving the car around mile 70 when he came upon two stuck ten cars and a Trophy Truck. He saw the Trophy Truck backing up to get a run and figured if he failed to get free, the course would be blocked. “I saw an opening and went for it,” said Mike, “We cleared the silt and kept going. A mile or so down the road, the Trophy Truck caught us. We moved over to let him go but he clipped our front tire as he went past, jerking the wheel out of my hands. It might have been an accident but it seemed punitive.”
Next to get in the car was John Cantrell. After 20 miles, the steering started to act up. A bolt had broken and damaged the steering rack, no doubt from the run-in with the Trophy Truck earlier. The repairs needed took an hour to perform. The rest of John’s stint behind the wheel was trouble free. He then handed the car over to John Bowers. John is familiar with the car having spent many hours in the right seat but it would be his first time driving it during a race. John did a great job maintaining his position to the finish. The only problem he encountered was getting stuck for what seemed like only a second, (The locals sprang into action the minute his momentum was stopped) and trying to stay on course in the thick fog. Even with his Rigid Industries led lights, there are so many well-travelled roads along the coast, you can go down the wrong one without even knowing. A few years back, an experienced Trophy Truck driver did the same thing and ended up in the drink. John found his way to the finish without getting wet.
“It’s strange to complete such an epic race but still feel unfulfilled,” said Mike Shaffer, “We were hoping for a top five but the upside is, we are getting stronger as a team every race. Our next race will be the HDRA Reno 500 July 12-14. It’s closer to home for us and it’s a double points race. We are looking forward to running strong and gaining more points in the World Championship of Desert Racing. That is still our top goal for the season.”
Photography By Brian Binkert
Bink Designs / www.binkdesigns.com
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About Shaffer Motorsports
Mike Shaffer / Driver & Crew Chief
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