With all the talk about the dangers down in Mexico I didn’t go down there for any races during 2008.   I’ve never been a die hard fan regarding races down in Mexico, I actually prefer the races up in the states.  Maybe its the nicer hotels and buffets.

Friday was pretty uneventful.   Paradigm and I left town in the morning so that we could get to contingency around midday and check out the festivities.  Nothing had changed since years past, tech is filled with local T-Shirt vendors who steal your photos for their shirts, incredibly loud music that makes your ears bleed, and about 10% gringos, 90% local high school kids.  We did a quick lap, got our media credentials (that you don’t need in Mexico), and said hello to a few teams we knew.

A few hours later we headed over to Papagayos where we were staying at which was a little north of town.  It was right on the water and a nice little cottage away from the commotion of town.  Its right next to The Coral, which is the nice hotel in town where a lot of the big teams stay.  I noticed that a friend Jimmy Cook was walking around the hotel parking lot (Scott was taking a nap), so I headed over to say hello.  Turns out he was waiting for BJ Baldwin to show up as he was shooting a promo for a TV pilot he was working with.  I used the opportunity to snap some shots of him and the truck since I was down there shooting for General Tire.

BJ Baldwin

BJ Baldwin

The lighting was great, and I really liked the background with the ocean and breaker wall.

The plan was to catch the lead group 3 times during the day, with the first spot being around race mile 90. We headed there a little early so we could scope out potential spots, and while there wasn’t any gnarly terrain at this spot, it had a nice sweeping turn, and long straight aways that I thought I could make something out of it.

Riviera Racing

Riviera Racing

Our plan for the second spot was to go down to Borrego on the south side of the course, so we stayed at RM90 for about hour before we had to leave. Part of the excitement of looped races is always trying to figure out how much time you’ll have before you have to hit the next spot. Wait too long and you’ll miss the leaders, leave to early and you’ll miss other racers at the first spot.

The last time I was at Borrego was a few years ago, and I remember it being like Zoo Road, or Ojos where spectators are lined up and packed in. I was surprised when we got there this year at how much less people there were. When we first arrived I didn’t even think we were in the right area because I was expecting so many more people to be there. Luckily we came across the McMillins who were down there watching the race (thanks for the sandwich) and they let us know we were in the right spot.

We timed in perfectly because within about 15 minutes of being there Robby launced off the jump there in Robby fashion. The spot is popular to watch from because there is a nice off camber jump that throws the truck sideways. Was able to get some great shots there, including a few people almost getting hit, and a dust devil that came through and took out some ezups. If you’ve never been to a Mexico race, then you’ve never experienced how the locals watch the race. Instead of just sitting on the side of the course, they’ll stand in the MIDDLE of the course as the race vehicle is coming. As they get closer they’ll slowly start to walk off the course, so that they barely get off the track before the car goes by. Why? Because they start drinking Tecate at 7am… Oh, and if you’ve ever heard Mariachi music in your life, after going to a Mexico race you’ll either hate it if you liked it, or want to slit your throat if you hated it to begin with.

Robby Gordon

BJ Baldwin

BJ Baldwin

Clyde Stout

Clyde Stout

Again timing it so that we could catch the lead group one more time, we left Borrego to make the drive back up north to catch them around race mile 385. On the way we stopped for a bit next to the road to catch some of the mid pack.

Rodrigo Ampudia

Rodrigo Ampudia

The final spot we were at was right before they cross the road after Ojos. Again it was nothing special terrain wise, but there was a nice little silt pocket there, and if you know me, you know I love silt. My camera likes it also, so much that it keeps some behind the LCD screen at all times.

The sun was getting lower in the sky, so we started to get some nice light to shoot with. Most of the time during a desert race you’re stuck with harsh midday light, so its always nice to shoot into the later part of the day.

Letner Racing - Overal Winner

Letner Racing - Overal Winner

Nick Vanderway / Curt Leduc

Nick Vanderway / Curt Leduc

Since the leaders had finished we stayed at this spot for the rest of the day so that I could shoot into the night. I wanted to play around with off camera flash a bit. Setup was simple, just a Canon 550ex flash on a tripod fired via Pocket Wizards. Left the flash at 1/2 power and just walked around to get different angles, which is the luxary of off camera flash. By switching which side of the course you’re on, or even moving a few feet you can get a different look.

Mikey Lawrence

Mikey Lawrence

Will Higman

Will Higman

Our night ended around 9pm when we finally had enough. It was a long day and we were tired, hungry, and thirsty. One of the requirements about shooting a desert race is that you never bring normal food, only Doritos, beef jerky, and nutter butters. We planned on staying the night and heading home first thing Sunday morning, but by that time we were ready to get back and just drove straight home. We promised each other not to stop until we crossed the border, and if we saw lights and sirens behind us, just pretend like they aren’t there until you get to a toll booth. Luckily we made it home in one piece, and survived yet another Baja adventure.