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The Baja 1000 and How to Communicate During the Race

The Baja 1000 Race

Every year, adventure seekers make their way to Baja California, Mexico to test their technical driving abilities in the Baja 1000 race. Founded in 1967 by Ed Pearlman, this off-road truck racing has become one of the most prestigious in the world. As the final round in a four-race annual series of races put on by SCORE International, competitors come from all over the world to see if they have what it takes to handle both the distance and the terrain. Each Baja race comes with its own obstacles but this one has been known to be one of the biggest off-road races out there. You can find the Baja 1000 map below.

To say it would be challenging would be an understatement. Many argue that knowing the terrain is “key to survival.”  Risk and danger are all part of the allure of this grueling and exciting experience.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Baja 1000. Additionally, we’ve provided some satellite communication recommendations to make for a safe experience during all Baja Races.

History of Baja Race

The roots of Baja racing go back to the Ekins brothers of Los Angeles. In 1962, American Honda approached Bud Ekins, a Hollywood stuntman and motorcycle racer, to suggest a way to test the durability of their new CL72. Scrambler. Bud’s idea was to do a timed 950-mile race from Tijuana to La Paz, which would be a severe challenge for both bike and the rider. Bud’s brother agreed to make the trip with Bill Robertson Jr., who owns a Baja Calendar Front honda dealership in Hollywood. The solution to the authentication was for the brokers to send telegrams in the beginning in Tijuana and La Paz at the end. 

There was a logistical nightmare, that of fuel available from the start. The last Pemex station was in Ensenada,  nothing else until La Paz. The riders compensated by strapping a 1-gallon plastic can into a cargo bag mounted on the bike’s fuel tank. Supplies were reduced by filtering a few gallons of gasoline through chamois, one gallon at a time, from the aircraft’s wing tanks. There were also ranches along the trail where owners could be persuaded to dump a few gallons of fuel from their 55-gallon drums at the farm. 

Trophy truck racing

A trophy truck, also known as a Baja truck or stunt truck, is a vehicle used in high-speed off-road racing. They are only intended for desert racing and are not street legal. When competing in off-road racing competitions, these vehicles are rightly referred to as “trophy trucks.” Races and “stunt trucks.” The introduction of the Trophy Truck class brought new freedom for competitors with minimal rules in their construction. The all-tube frame and suspension travel further developed and unprecedented performance and speed.

50th Anniversary of the Baja 1000

Who can race in the Baja 1000?

So, you want to desert race in the Baja 1000? Lucky for you, there is no qualification required and you can even register the week of the event. If you have $3,000+ to spend (and that’s just the entry fee) in a feat that tests your endurance, focus, and nerves as you drive around the deserts of Mexico, it’s time to get ready for the Baja 1000 race!

The Baja 1000 dates are November 19 – 24.

Baja 1000 Map 2019

Baja 1000 map 2021

Baja 1000 dates

2022 Baja 500 – June 1-5, 2022.
2022 Baja 400 – Sept. 13-18, 2022.
2022 Baja 1000 – Nov. 15-20, 2022.
2022 San Felipe 250 – March 30-April 3, 2022.

Baja 1000 Classes

PRO LEVEL 1Entry Fees–$4120paid before deadline. *$4320paid after11/11/19deadline.(Includes Base Entry Fee, Insurance & Safety,Land Use& Taxes,Tracking,YR EndPoints Fund,400PurseFund,Administration, *Late Fee).

No. Range                               Class Title & Requirement Brief

1-99                                            Trophy Truck®:Unlimited TrophyTruck

1L-99L                                       Trophy Truck® Legends: Unlimited Trophy Truck for Drivers 50 years and older.

100-199                                     Class 1:Unlimited. 1 or 2 seat buggy.


PRO LEVEL 2 Entry Fees–$3860paid before deadline. *$4060paid after11/11/19deadline.(Includes Base Entry Fee, Insurance & Safety, Land Use & Taxes, Tracking, YR End Points Fund,400PurseFund, Administration, *Late Fee).

No. Range                                Class Title & Requirement Brief

200-299                                      TrophyTruckSpec:Trophy Truck/SUV with stock, sealed V-8 engine.2WD

1000-1099                                 Class 10:1 or 2 seat Buggy. Limited engine.

800-899                                     Class 8:Full sized 2WD Trucks or SUV.

4400-4499                                Hammer Truck Unlimited:Rock Crawler/Hammer Truck Unlimited.

4500-4599                                Hammer Truck Limited:Rock Crawler/Hammer Truck Limited.

500-549                                    Class 5 Unlimited: Unlimited Baja Bugs.

1200-1299                                SCORE Lites®:1 or 2 seat with cc restrictions.

8000-8099                              Heavy Metal:Open Production Trucks, V8 Engines.

300-399                                    Class 3:Short wheelbase 4X4 vehicle. No pickup trucks.

3000-3099                              Class 3000:Unlimited Buggy or Truck, 2.2/2.4-Liter Ecotec engine.

2000-2049                              Class 2:Combined truck and car class. Engines have no restrictions.

1600-16991/2-1600              Buggy Limited:1 or 2 seats. Up to 1600cc

Baja 1000 Vehicles

This list from Score International will give you all the specifics on their vehicle class levels. In a nutshell, trucks, motorbikes, buggies, ATVs, and Volkswagen Beetles all have a place in the Baja 1000.

These aren’t just standard cars and trucks you see driving down the road. In order to maneuver over and around the twists and bumps of the Mexican desert and mountains, you’ll either be using a motorbike equipped for the terrain or you’ll likely be utilizing a car or truck that costs upwards of $100,000. Though renting options are available.

Course and Route Expectations for the Baja 1000

The 1,000 in the name leads you to assume that racers will be completing a 1,000 mile or kilometer race. That would make sense, right? In actuality, the course might be a loop route consisting of 800 miles or could be a point-to-point course covering 1,100 miles plus. The route will always stay in the same vicinity (Ensanada/La Paz), but it changes from year to year. It’s all a part of the allure since drivers won’t know what to expect. Drivers should arrive early to participate in “pre-running” where they will gain familiarity with the course, road conditions and the various obstacles they’ll face.

But drivers can never really have full awareness of what might come their way on race day. Buses, cows, oncoming traffic, and horses are all things racers will have to watch out for an avoid. Beyond that, pranksters from the area look forward to the event every year to set up their own booby-traps to trick unsuspecting drivers. It’s an anything goes type of Baja race.

The racecourse is already extremely difficult to maneuver and the added risks and obstacles means it’s not an event for the faint of heart. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings is important. Even adrenaline junkies need to stay safe when out driving on this course that can take upwards of 24 hours. Staying in constant communication is key.

The Baja 1000 dates are November 19 – 24.

Safety with a Satellite Phone

Driving out on a 1,000 mile (give or take) course means there will be times you’ll be navigating the land all by your lonesome. Having the ability to stay in contact with your pit crew will be necessary. Having a way to communicate with those who can help you in the event of a disaster is vital. As much as drivers try to avoid it, crashes can and do happen. Additionally, drivers have the ability to warn others about impending dangers not normally part of the course (such as holes dug by spectators). Since cell connection will be very spotty in the Baja desert and mountains (or nonexistent), a satellite phone is a necessity.

Off road truck racing requires skill and safety so we have listed some options below to keep you safe in the next Baja race.

These are your best bets for around the clock satellite communication:

  1.  Iridium 9555 – The Iridium 9555 is ruggedly built and can handle any environment. Whether you need to get ahold of your pit crew or are in need of a rescue, this satellite phone won’t let you down. With a 100% worldwide connection, you’ll have peace of mind by carrying this with you at all times.
  2. Iridium Extreme PTT – Rental of the Iridium Extreme PTT means you’ll have the additional push-to-talk capability. This added bonus means you’ll be able to send and receive immediate communication at the push of a button. Other features you’ll be happy to have included a fully integrated SOS button with customizable GPS and online tracking. It’s important for others to know exactly where you are along the course.
  3. ICOM Radio – The dust-tight ICOM Satellite radio is ideal for harsh environments. It provides another seamless way to communicate globally with push-to-talk. Unlike satellite phones, this device allows users to immediately start talking to all radios in the same talk group with the push of a button. A built-in emergency key is another helpful feature.
  4. Explorer 325 – Specifically designed for those on the move, this BGAN terminal is the perfect communication solution for those off-road truck racing in the Baja 1000. The three-part device utilizes a transceiver, voice handset, and antenna (placed on the roof). This instantly turns your vehicle into a mobile communications hub. Fixed pricing and no roaming fees allows for a simple solution anywhere you need satellite communications.

Baja 1000 Racers Information

2018 SCORE Internation Baja 1000

How many hours is the Baja 1000?

When competing in the Baja 1000 the time it takes to finish the race differs on the class of vehicle you are racing. You will also need to factor in weather and technical issues that might occur. Overall it takes about 20-25 hours from start to finish.

Where is the Baja 1000?

The Baja 1000 has been held in a few different places such as Ensenda, Tijuana, and Mexicali. Traditionally it is held in Ensenda. The race is a point to point race and the points vary from year to year but the total length of the race is around 1000 Miles.

How much money do you get for winning the Baja 1000?

The winnings of the Baja 1000 varies from year to year. To get exact details visiting the Score International Informational page.

Who won the Baja 1000 in 2018?

Justin Morgan won the Baja 100 in 2018.

How much does a Baja truck cost?

Trophy trucks vary in costs because of all the additional addons that are available. The price range for most Baja trucks is anywhere from $600,000 - $1,000,000

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