CVM Motorsports – 2017 BAJA 1000
CVM Motorsports 2017 Baja 1000 Race Report
After competing in four Baja 1000’s (2013 – 2016) in 3 different classes CVM Motorsports (Captains Village Marina Motorsports) from Scotch Creek BC Canada has yet to complete the Baja 1000. The success rate of this famous race is generally only 50 percent so why do we keep coming back to Baja for more failure? Is it the adventure, the pure adrenaline of being in the racecar or is it the beautiful Baja Landscape and the spirit of the Mexican people? For the Captains Village Marina Crew it is all of the above. After four years of trying and failing 2017 was our year to conquer the Baja 1000.
CVM Motorsports started prepping for the 2017 Score International 50th Anniversary Baja 1000 in July. Dean Acton (Owner) started outfitting trucks with off road accessories and sleeping quarters to safely chase the racecar down the Baja peninsula. Mark Acton (Son) and the crew of mechanics at Captains Village Marina started putting in night shifts to prep our 2016 Yamaha YXZ 1000r. It takes precision work to prepare for the longest race in North America so nothing can be overlooked. While the racecar was being prepped we rounded up a team of over a dozen people (racecar drivers, co-drivers, mechanics and chase truck drivers) to help us complete this race. Next was logistics, planning pit stops for refueling, driver changes and unforeseen repairs over 1134 miles of Mexican desert. You can create a plan on paper before this race but you can defiantly count on making a new plan or 3 before the end of the race.
November 1st rolled up quickly. Race day is on the 16th and we still had Boats to winterize and put away at Captains Village Marina and of course winter decided to hit early here at Shuswap Lake. Plowing snow to put boats inside storage is not as fun as it sounds.
With an appointment to get our Shocks Tuned at Shock Therapy in Arizona looming closer it was time to get our buts in gear! We loaded up the race trailer and Dean headed out on November 5th. The other two chase trucks and one more trailer hit the highway on November 8th to begin the 2700 km journey to the Start line of the Baja 1000 in Ensenada Mexico.
With a string of bad luck or possibly a bad batch of tires the crew had to buy 10 new tires on the journey down. The team finally made it to Ensenada and its now time to hit the dirt! November 13th we load up first thing in the morning and head for SCORE Race Registration, Pre Tech, and Chassis Inspection down town Ensenada. Luckily this year we beat the rush. Once completed the crew decided it was time to do the final shake down on our Yamaha YXZ 1000r. Right from down town Ensenada we put our car through 73 miles of relentless punishment. It was time to see if this car was going to make or break before the big day. We were pleasantly surprised when we made it through some seriously rough terrain to RM 73 with no issues. It was an awesome way to end the day. Now it is time to get organized and get ready for Contingency and tech inspection tomorrow, which is the big parade day down town Ensenada. It’s where all 405 racecars entered in the Baja 1000 go up and over the start line and celebrate with the locals, fans and other racers. After 4 hours of handing out stickers and drinking cervesas we were through Contingency and Tech inspection. With no major racecar issues the CVM Motorsports crew had a free day to rest up and tweak any plans before the race.
RACE DAY! November 16th arrived early. 6AM and people are up packing Chase Trucks and triple checking the racecar. The PRO UTV Class is expected to leave the Starting line around 2pm. The Team had one last meeting after breakfast and it pretty much went like this – “Don’t drive like Robby Gordon lets just get this Yamaha to the finish line!” then we all said our good byes and parted ways each Chase Truck heading to there assigned pit. Dean Acton driver of record and Scott Acton his son the co-driver for the first 364 hectic miles make their way onto the malecon at the start line watching the green flag drop every 30 seconds. You think about a lot of things! “Did we torque them lug nuts? Are we really going to tackle the Baja 1000 with stock Yamaha A-Arms? Did we pack a source of fire in our survival bag?” Too Late now! The Green flag drops and away they go. Its only 1134 miles to go!
Co-driver Scott Acton:
Race Mile 0: At this point Dean and I are usually trying to calm each other down before we start the slog of our first run of 364 miles. The adrenaline is flowing and it’s almost impossible to ignore as we sit in line, waiting in the pack of idling engines. Before you know it, it’s your turn to toe the line and wait for the countdown to signal your departure into who knows what. From the start line we peel off the main thoroughfare down into the arroyo lined with fans that speeds us out of town. Following roughly the same course as years previous the first 10 miles takes you over bridges, bypasses, and highway that has been under construction for years. Most of it being in an official speed zone which restricts us to the posted speed of 37 mph (60km/ph). Still in this speed zone we were following another racer in our class and visibility was extremely limited. The driver ahead of us went slightly off course and we followed closely behind only to see threw the dust storm that he had gone nose first off a 12’ (rough estimate) embankment. Dean managed to come to a full stop a mere couple of feet or else we too would have plunged down there with them. Back on track we are holding our own and trying to find a pace that we think we can maintain. Our first pit at race mile 20 is just a visual check over and everything is looking as good as can be expected. From there we head north from the Mexican Highway 3 for the next leg which other than a brief pullover for a minor technical issue, had us moving and shaking along. The rest of the track following Highway 3 towards the Sea of Cortez and San Felipe was badly rutted out due to all the high horsepower vehicles ahead of us. It always amazes me to see what a couple hundred racers in various contraptions can do to a course. The San Felipe section is particularly notorious for rough endless woops. That being said the Yamaha YXZ 1000R was up to the task. Settling into our chosen pace we make good time threw RM 180 and RM 290 where the racetrack starts another of many dips inland. This time threw Coco’s Corner, which is another highway still under construction. At RM 320 we turn off the unfinished highway and into the Calamujue Wash, a narrow winding canyon that is often awash. Wet sand and fauna get torn up and thrown behind us as we put the Yamaha to the grind of clawing out of the arroyo. At RM 340 we come back to HWY 1 and book it down to meet our team at RM 364 for our first driver change. Looking back on the first leg or our race we could not have been more pleased with the performance of the YXZ1000R. She took everything the Baja could throw at her and then some. Rocks, rivers, mountains, silt, and everything in between the Yamaha ran flawlessly.
The first leg of 364 miles was wild! Cars stuck, some rolled over, and some racers even down and out because of mechanical failures. Our goal was to keep an average speed of 32 mph and drive smart! Dean and Scott managed to successfully cruise from West coast to East coast with out any issues to report, which made it easy at the first two pit stops. Fuel and GO! The night came and so did fatigue so as planned there was a driver change at pit 3. Mark Acton (driver) and Trevor Davies (co-driver) were ready to race through the night but there was a hiccup about 30 miles north of Bay of LA, Chase 3 blew a tire and went for a wild ride through the ditch but our good pal Hank managed to steer us back onto the road! Unfortunately if you know Baja there is no shoulder nor is there many pull outs, so we had to change a tire on the highway and of course we get set up and the socket for the lug nuts got misplaced into a different truck! It was time to get creative cause we had very little time to get to pit 3 before our Race Car arrived! Twelve-inch crescent wrench with a snipe snapped and there were a couple fowl words to be said while doing all of this…. Then Trevor digs a rusty old twelve-inch pipe wrench out of the abyss and puts the snipe to it and managed to get the job done! Chase 3 arrived to Pit 3 with about a half hour of time to spare before our Yamaha arrived. Chase 3 performed a quick inspection, dusted the lights off, and fueled up. Mark and Trevor were ready to go, it was finally their turn to hop in the car for the next 241 miles.
Driver Mark Acton:
It was a night shift, as Trevor and I got in the car at 11pm. We took off heading onto the fast road section of the Bay of LA along the Sea of Cortez. Lots of cars and a lot of dust! It was a game of cat and mouse, we would push hard to make a pass with a decent amount of visibility then the dirt would change and boom dusted out! Successfully we ended up passing over 5 cars in this section and of course more down racers due to mechanical failures. Even before the race we new RM 525 to 605 was going to be nasty. Silt and Rock was there to try and ruin our day. We knew it was coming; all you can do is close the visor grab a gear and power though the 3 feet deep silt with limited visibility. But it got worse… The morning fog off the Pacific was thick and all the silt just caked to everything for over an hour! There was one thing we were extremely thankful for during this race and that is 4-wheel drive! We passed about fifteen 2-wheel drive racecars stuck and struggling to get out of the deep silt. As we continued on through this silt section the fog was so wet and heavy that it even shorted out our Driver to Co-Driver communication. So for 25 miles Trevor had to call corners with hand signals! Eventually before pit 5 in a really rough rocky section our communication dried out and came back to life.
Pit 5 had all hands on deck, 3 chase trucks were there to perform a long inspection to make sure we didn’t miss anything. The crew noticed our steering wrack had about an inch of play in it, we made the quick decision to swap out our spare steering assembly into this Yamaha, as we knew there was still 500 plus more miles to the finish line. Fatigue is really starting to kick in so as planned another driver change happened, Dean and Scott got back in the Yamaha to head down the Pacific Coast south to Scorpion Bay. It was a fast section with some water crossings and lots of great views, Scott even recalls having a couple naps along the way!
Co-driver Scott Acton:
Race Mile 605: With the other driving team of Mark Acton (driver) and Trevor Davies (Co-driver) finishing there section threw Bahia de los Angeles then zigzagging across the peninsula to reach as pit 5 at RM 605 just outside San Ignacio. Mark and Trevor had done a fantastic job keeping pace with the lead pack of drivers and they managed to bring the buggy in practically unscathed. Once the YXZ had been checked over and refueled it was Dean’s and mine turn to tackle the next section of track. The course turns southwest from Highway 1 in San Ignacio towards the pacific village of San Juanico. Once at the coast the course follows the headlands of the Baja peninsula southeast along a very fast beach track. This being an opportune chance for all vehicles to eat up some quick miles, we did not see many other competitors along this section just the odd broken down Trophy Truck and various other racing contraptions. After the speedy beach rally it was back towards the Sea of Cortez coast via the small towns of La Purisima and San Isidro. Good racing conditions and the Yamaha YXZ1000R running tip top had us back at Highway 1 and south bound parallel to the track, heading for pit 6 and a co-driver change at RM 783. Once again the YXZ performed admirably and without fault. Three quarters of the race are now in the books and it is up to the drivers and team to see how far they can go.
In the Chase trucks we could track where the racecar was at all times. We all noticed that CVM motorsports was about to break their personal best record of passing through RM 664. We didn’t start celebrating as this race was far from over. This is the one section the team was very worried about, highway 1 went far east over to the Sea of Cortez and the race track was on the Pacific. If anything went wrong it was going to be tuff to get to the racecar to help out with any problems. Thankfully Dean and Scott showed up to Pit 6 RM 785 with no car issues but looking exhausted. The decision was made to put Brad Noakes in the co-driver seat to keep Dean awake and alert for the next 115 miles. They experienced a lot of rock, more water crossings, and more dead racecars on the course.
Just like that it was dark again. Night number 2 had arrived and the lack of sleep was really starting to take its toll on everyone. The chase trucks were constantly drinking anything with caffeine in it to try to keep there eyes open. Dean and Brad arrived to Insurgentes at pit number 7 where Mark and Trevor hopped back in the Yamaha to make a push to the finish line!
Driver Mark Acton:
The car was still tight and the suspension felt great! We herd from friends during their pre-running adventures that the last 234 miles was going to be rough. Well rough was an absolute understatement. There was 3 to 4 feet deep trophy truck woops for as far as the GPS could display a straight line! We wanted to go hard but we knew that if there was going to be any issues we would experience it here. We were even watching our radio antenna that is mounted on our roof bend down and hit the hood during every woop. There was also some serious laughs at RM 1110 when we crested a rolling hill on the race course and we had to swerve around a stuck Toyota Celica with its hazards on but not a person to be found! The toughest battle was fatigue even the cactus were starting to jump out at you. But once we saw those lights of La Paz everything changed. You could taste the celebrations! The feeling of hitting the asphalt on the outskirts of La Paz was amazing. The policia had barricaded the roads to keep the locals off the main drag, which was also the race coarse. Even at 2AM there was still locals cheering us on as we went ripping by. Then right before the finish line they had the course changed into a little short coarse setup for the fans. We exited onto the short course and at this time we are so happy we are driving fast and celebrating inside the car. We drift 2 big corners that were lit up with great big lights and on the second to last corner before the finish line there was a sharp unlit 90 degree left hand corner that we came a little hot into! We had the YXZ up on 2 wheels around that corner but we managed to get the car back on all 4 tires and we started laughing. “Wow that corner came out of know where.” We almost rolled it into the Sea of Cortez! After 37 hours, 9 minutes and 8 seconds of straight Baja off road racing we had made it. It was a pretty special feeling to finally cross the finish line and see the whole CVM motorsports crew there waiting for us ready to celebrate! We rolled over the interview stage received our medals for finishing the race and gave our interview. Once done we headed for the trucks to load up it was only then that we realized that we just finished the 50th anniversary Baja 1000 with no flat tires and minimal issues! We also got word that we were unofficially 5th in class and the top Yamaha. We were ecstatic that we were the first team to finish the Baja 1000 in a Yamaha YXZ 1000r.
Finished and exhausted, most the team being up for 44 hours at this point we needed a shower and a bed. The team headed for San Jose del Cabo, 3 hours south of La Paz, where we were going to hang our hats for a week with family and friends! It was a great feeling to wake up Saturday afternoon to see we officially finished 5th in class and 145th overall. It was hard to believe that people were still out there racing trying to beat the clock to the finish line and we were celebrating at the beach!
It takes a team of dedicated, hard working individuals, who are willing to give up at least a week of their lives to make it even possible to enter this race let alone finish it. From the whole team at CVM we would like to thank our family, friends, sponsors, and most importantly our chase crew for helping us tackle this race. It was a huge accomplishment and there is no way we could have done it with out you!
Chase Truck 1 – 3500 GMC
Chase Truck 2 – 2500 GMC
Chase Truck 3 – 5500 GMC
Method Race Wheels
Baja Designs Lighting
PCI Race Radios
Zimmer Wheaton GMC
Full Lotus Decks