Team secures fourth straight Baja 500 victory
On June 4th over 250 entries started at the 43nd annual Tecate SCORE Baja 500 with the expectations to finish the race and hopefully cross the finish line first. The Matlock Racing team once again covered the rough and boulder strewn course with the fastest time in class 25 for the fourth year in a row.
Less than a month before heading south to Baja, team leader Wayne Matlock had a mountain biking accident that ended with a torn ACL in his knee. A week before the race, the Matlock Racing team headed south of the border to Ensenada and began pre-running. With his injury, Matlock was unable to ride a quad until he began pre-running, however this did not hold him back and his knee seemed to be holding up during the week of riding. After a week of pre-running each team member was prepared to take on the course at race speeds.
The #1A Honda TRX700XX with Wayne Matlock aboard would start in the No. 3 position just one minute behind the #2A quad. On race day the early morning clouds laid low over the town of Ensenada, these would hold in the silty dust turned up by the motorcycles that would start before the Pro quad class. Matlock took the start and worked hard to make the pass on the #2A & #3A quads early in the race.
Thru the dust in Ojos Negros Matlock had passed the #2A quad and was in hot pursuit of the #3A quad. Matlock continued to push hard before passing the #3A quad who had a terrible crash in the early morning dust, before he was able to hand the quad off to Josh Caster at race mile 80 in the lead.
Caster was off with the #2A quad right on his tail. At check point #1 located at race mile 90, Caster was able to gain some time on the #2A quad before reaching the rocky and dangerous summit section of the course. Near race mile 120 while chasing a bike’s dust thru the rock strewn wash at bottom of the summit, Caster hit a large rock and broke an upper ball joint on the quad. Caster began working on the quad to replace the broken ball joint, however when he removed the tool pack he discovered the tools needed to change it out with the spare ball joint were not in the pack. He immediately contacted the chase crews over the satellite phone and was notified that the ball joint tool was located in a different pack on the front of the quad. After finding the proper tools, Caster was able to change out the ball joint before getting back on the road over 45 minutes later.
Once back on the road, Caster had no other issues and began gaining time on the leaders before handing the quad over to Matlock for his second ride of the day at race mile 211. After a quick tire change, Matlock jumped back on the quad again and while doing so reinjured his torn ACL. Matlock stayed on the quad and was able to catch and pass the lead class 25 quad; however, the pain continued to get worse as he made his way towards San Matias through the big sandy whoops of Borrego. Matlock would not be able to complete his section around the Mike’s Sky Ranch loop due to the increasing pain, so Caster would have to take over at San Matias. Before Matlock handed the quad off to Caster, he was able to increase the class 25 lead once again and would be fourth overall quad on the road.
Caster was now back on the quad and would have to ride the Mike’s Loop before handing the quad off to Wes Miller at the planned rider change near race mile 262. Even though Caster had not pre-run this section of the course he was able to add time to the lead that Matlock had made from Borrego and make the pass on the third overall quad to move the team up one spot.
Miller would jump on the quad at race mile 262 in Valle De Trinidad and head west towards the pacific coast. Miller continued to gain time on the second place class 25 quad and in the process was able to catch more motorcycles that had started ahead of the #1A quad. After reaching the pacific coast, Miller was able to gain time on the two class 24 quads still up ahead that had made a pass early in the race when Caster had the down time due to the broken ball joint. As Miller worked his way up the coast and then back towards Ojos Negros, he continued to reel in the other quads as he chased their dust. Before passing the quad off to Caster at the field in Ojos Negros at race mile 417, Miller caught and made the pass to move the Matlock Team into second place overall.
At race mile 417, Caster would jump back on for the third time and take the quad to the finish for Matlock as he was still in pain from the earlier morning injury. Matlock warned Caster of the booby traps the locals had made on the course as he left Ensenada earlier that morning and expected they would only be worse this late in the day. Fortunately there were no booby traps set as Caster made his way back into Ensenada to the finish. Once crossing the finish line it was a full 1 hour and 56 minutes before the next class 25 team would enter Ensenada.
Not only did the #1A Matlock Racing Team finish nearly two hours ahead of the next class 25 quad, but they also averaged 39.90 mph over the extremely rough course to finishing just five minutes behind the overall quad winner! This finish was good enough for the Class 25 Pro ATV win and would move the Matlock Racing Team back into the points lead.
Matlock Racing would like to thank all their sponsors: Rocky Mountain ATV, Maxxis, Kicker, PRM-ATV.com, JCR, American Honda, Rich Morel Race Motors, Scott Goggles, Renthal, Elka, Big Gun Exhaust, KZ Trailers, Precision Concepts, Houser, Vey’s Powersports, Fly Racing, Vortex Ignitions, IMS-Roll, IMS, DWT, OMF, Tire Balls, Quad Tech, Streamline, Precision Racing Products, Baja Designs, Motion Pro, UNI, DID, Aerco Systems, Inc., Hammer Nutrition, Premier Nutrition, H-Bomb Media For more