A huge “congratulations” to Monster Matt Burroughs and the entire Monster Energy Racing team for their 4th place finish in the UTV Pro class at the 2017 Baja 500. In their first time racing Baja, the team and its Can-Am Maverick X3 performed superbly. Congrats on the great team effort. Check out Matt’s race report and photos here.
The 2017 Baja 500 would be our very first time racing in Baja for the majority of our team including myself. We are a team made up of only volunteers so asking them to come spend a week away from their families is a big thing to ask. But when I put it out there a few months ago everyone was immediately all in. So we started planning. I immediately asked my friend Cain Smead from UTVDriver.com if he and Bradley Howe would like to drive the second half of the 500. They were in. The hours the guys spent prepping the car in the race shop after working their day jobs simply can’t be repaid. It’s always interesting what a group of hard-working people can accomplish when they are working for a common goal. We were consistently making progress with new Can-Am Maverick X3 as the season progressed therefore, we were confident we had a good car when we left for Baja on the Sunday before the race. We pre-ran Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with no issues. Since we hadn’t had much luck in the first 3 races of the season the team told me “If you don’t take it easy in Baja and finish, were going to make you walk back to the US.” Everyone kept telling me that “If you get passed in Baja you will see them on the side of the road broken down later.” Not knowing if this was true as this was my first time racing in Baja, I agreed to race pre-run pace plus 10%. We started the race 18th off the line and settled into a good conservative pace. At mile 65 we came to our first “bottle neck” due to an overturned truck. We sat there for nearly 30 minutes before we were able to slip by. A few miles later we hit the 2nd “bottle neck” of the day. I think this one cost us another 10 to 15 minutes. We got going again and made our way to pit #1 at mile 85. The crew looked the car over, filled us with gas and sent us on our way. Everything with the car was good and we had moved up to 7th physically. We again continued our conservative pace along the beach section. 2 cars passed us before we left the beach section and it took everything in my power to not pick up the pace. However, I really didn’t want to have to walk from Ensenada to Norco.
Race Update #2
Approaching pit #2 at mile 160 we would see one of the cars that passed us sitting on the side of the road. Ok, maybe my crew was right. We came into pit #2 and took gas only. Again, the crew said the car looked great. Exiting the pit we saw the other car that had passed us still in the pit working on their car and well as couple of other who had been running up front. Three separate cars would pass us in this section and we would pass them all back when they were on the side of the road broken down again.
We came into pit #3 and the driver swap at mile 240, took more gas and did the planned belt change. Again, the car looked great with no other maintenance required. Cain and Bradley took off headed for the round trip through San Felipe. We sent one chase truck down just in case they had any issues. The plan was for them to pit at Baja pits #7 at about mile 320. Problem was when they got to Baja pits #7 had no gas for them. They said they had a spare 7 gallons and the guys took what they could get. So they started the run back to Ensenada and told the crew down there they would need a splash of gas. So they took 5 gallons at about mile 375 and pushed on. They arrived at our pit #4 at mile 400 and took only gas again. The car looked and sounded great. We were running 6th physically. We told them we would see them at the road crossing at mile 490 just in case they had any issues. We made it to mile 490 just in time to see them speed by. Again, the car was running great. We jumped in the car and hurried to Ensenada to see them finish. When we got to the outskirts of Ensenada they radioed that they were 5 miles from the finish. We started running every stop sign and red light in town hoping to make it to the finish in time. Just as we were pulling up to the finish line the “Cops” were pulling us over. They let all of us walk to the finish line except Don, who got to go to the police station and make a $120 donation. Cain and Bradley came charging around the corner 4th Pro UTV overall. They had passed 2 broken down cars in the last 25 miles.
Race Update #3
So the guys were right, every car that passed us ended up on the side of the road broken down. In the end 4th place was a great accomplishment for us with little to no Baja experience. The Can-Am Maverick X3 ran flawless, not a single mechanical issue. We learned a great deal about racing in Baja and are looking forward to Vegas to Reno in August and the 1000 in November. Huge thanks to our great crew and wonderful sponsors who make this all possible. Without each and every one of them there is no chance we finish the Baja 500 our first time out.
Monster Energy, Can-Am, Cognito Motorsports, Vendetta Motorsports, PRP seats, OMF Performance Wheels, Fox Shocks, Torco Race Oils, Hunsaker USA dump cans, STI Chicane RX tires, Summers Brothers Axles, Streamline Brakes, Trinity Exhaust, Rugged Radios, IMS Metals, Benchmark Performance, Fuelsafe Fuel cells, Factory UTV skid plates, Baja Designs lights, Anti-gravity batteries, Smith Race Wire, Pro Eagle jacks, Eibach springs, 270X wraps, Leadnav systems GPS, Rokblokz mup flaps and Tred4x4 recovery ramps.