Each year there is great anticipation and preparation for the longest race and the finale to the Score International season, the Baja 1000. This year was no exception. The race was a grueling 705 miles of rocks, silt, fog, ruts, river beds, whoops, steep hills, dust, spectators, and cold. It only took The Factory Racing with Dan Chamlee driving, 25:18:39 to place first in Class 7, averaging 27:85 mph. But it didn’t come without challenges and a great team of help. The course included some sections of highway and all roads are open to the public with this brings unique challenges, like a 2 ½ hour start delay due to a semi-truck that jack knifed on the course. The race was held Nov 17-19, 2011 starting in Ensenada traveling down to San Felipe, over to the Pacific Coast and then back into Ensenada. There were 278 teams who started the race and only 155 teams that were able to complete the course in the 32 hour time limit.
Dan drove the entire race, His first co-driver was his son, Daniel, until the BFGoodrich Pit 2 at race mile 198, during this section the gps stopped working, though the course is marked with flags it’s hard to rely on them since spectators like to remove them. At the pits they discovered that if you turn the lights off and on the gps would start working again. The amazing Rigid Industry Lights was warming up the gps antenna. Kurt Kimball also known as Granny took over co-driver duties until BFG Pit 4 at race mile 449. This section was 250 miles of the famous San Felipe whoops but the team was able to put a lot of distance on their competitors through this section of really nasty terrain. But not without some problems, such as a hole in the exhaust manifold which they put a rock in and hose clamped it on until they could get to the next BFG Pit 3 and weld a patch on it. The temperature began rising and found a wire to the cooling fan melted. They also changed a flat tire. Amy Tate hopped in the truck at race mile 449 to take over co-driver responsibilities. At the famous Mike’s Sky ranch the engine began to cut out and was running lean, they fiddled with it for a while and it started working, no idea why. Dave Owen as co-driver got in at race mile 587 to take it to the finish.
At race mile 630 the team knew there was only 60 miles left but painfully aware this is a really rough section and they have had problems there before. But leading by 200 miles and plenty of time to finish the teams was really hopeful. When the truck gets to race mile 635 the third member breaks. Fortunately the team has prepared for this section by having Thomas Chamlee’s pre-runner already on its way to this section knowing in the past he has needed to take his pre-runner in the course, which is set up similar to the race truck but a V8 and four wheel drive. Thomas takes off with Dean Teague and parts to fix the race truck. He radios out that he’s got a flat at race mile 630 and would need to change it. Once he gets to the truck they find the easiest way to fix the race truck is to take the third member from Thomas’ truck and put it on the race truck which will make Thomas’s truck only front wheel drive but he should only have to go 10 miles to get to the truck waiting for him with a trailer. Dan continues on the race and needs to change a flat tire but makes it to the finish. Meanwhile, Scott Brady is waiting for Thomas with the trailer and Thomas never shows up. We have rented satellite phones and have two way radios but no one can talk to each other, very frustrating. It turns out that Thomas broke a u-joint going up a steep hill in front wheel drive. After Thomas finally gets a hold of someone a rescue team is put together to go in and get him. But that took hours since the terrain was so rough. Though the race truck was finished around 2 pm, it wasn’t until 1 am that all were safely back to camp.
With this win the team now has 5 Baja 1000 wins, 3 races wins this season and their 7th Season Points Championships and the icing on the cake, the 2011 Milestone award, which is given to those who completed every mile of every race within the time limit.
This year’s Baja 1000 teamed included: Dan & Laurie Chamlee, Daniel & Stephanie Chamlee, their two kids, Nolan and Michael Chamlee, Thomas Chamlee, Scott and Wendy Brady and their Children, Kelly, Kylie and Karson, Amy Tate, Brent Thompson, Dean Teague, John Lund, Taylor Lund, Kurt Kimball, Cassidy Kimball, Carter Kimball, Ryan Kimball, Dave Owens, and Gino Bantilan.