Editor’s Note: Ryan Arciero is a world-class off-road racer and successful entrepreneur. He explains how he prepares for the Baja 1000.
This month’s SCORE Int’l Baja 1000 will be the 25th in my driving career and I can say each one gets harder and harder to win.
I have been very fortunate to have won this race on three different occasions — once with Bob Gordon in Class 1 in 1998 and twice with Mark Miller (2003 and ’04) in Trophy Truck. Since then, the rest of the years have been filled with many top-three, top-five and top-10 finishes, and unfortunately a handful of DNFs, which is the case for most who compete in what is one of the most difficult races in the world.
Winning this race does not start when the green flag waves. In reality, we are preparing all year for this one race as this is THE race as a driver and team you want to win more than any other. This race is one of the most difficult on the body and the mind, but also one of the most challenging to prepare for.
In order to win the Baja 1000, there are so many factors besides having a great vehicle and a talented driver and navigator. There is a big piece of that puzzle that involves all the planning ahead of even leaving the shop to pre-run and race in this amazing event.
Preparation and attention to detail is a huge factor and one of the biggest differences between racing in the Baja 1000 and winning the Baja 1000. Preparation as a driver is all year long, from training in the gym, dialing in your cardio on the bike, studying past videos, spending countless hours on Google Earth, testing and racing the race truck while anticipating when officials will announce where the course will be each year.
The race course for the Baja 1000 changes every year, now granted we utilize a huge variety of past race courses from our other events such as the San Felipe 250, Baja 500, Baja 400 and previous Baja 1000s, but every year it changes or uses a different combination of those courses.
This year’s Baja 1000 will be a loop race, meaning we will start and finish in Ensenada, unlike every three to four years when we do the peninsula run from Ensenada to either La Paz or Cabo San Lucas.
Typically, when we do the loop races, they tend to be much rougher race courses and are just as hard on the team, driver and more importantly on the vehicles.
For drivers and navigators, we anticipate the map and GPS file to come out, and it cannot be released soon enough for us to get our heads wrapped around the course and create a race-winning plan.
Typically, the map is released first, and the GPS file of the exact course follows a week or two later. There is so much work to do before deciding when to make the trip to Baja to pre-run the course.
Once that map is released, it is a full assault on the brain, examining the details regarding the exact location the course is going, reliving past races that took us the same direction, pulling up prior GPS files and uploading them to Google Earth so we can study mile by mile in an attempt to wrap your head around the course itself.
I usually do this until the actual GPS file is released, which is more important than the map itself. The GPS file gives us the trail we will be utilizing, race miles, speed zones and Virtual Check Points. VCPs are scattered around the course and we must hit those during the race, or we will get.
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