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Dirt circus: Mike Peffers experiences the Baja 1000

13 December 2017



For Mike Peffers, the Baja 1000 experience has been a must-do for decades.
“Rolling the clock back to the late ’70s, I was in a picture theatre in Lower Hutt, to see some movie that I don’t recall; the trailer was a short movie that would start my bucket list before I knew I had one,” he recalls. “It featured some mad guys racing dirt bikes, VWs, and beach buggies down the Baja peninsula. They were taking part in the SCORE Baja 1000. I didn’t have clue where Baja was, but I wanted to see it firsthand and be a part of that event.”

For 2017, he was fortunate enough to have the stars align and be presented with the opportunity to attend the most recent Baja 1000, and he didn’t just soak it all up — he documented his experience to be shared with the readers of NZV8. 

“Following this year’s NZ1000, the 2016 Off Road Association of New Zealand (ORANZ) Champion, Mike Fraser, told me he was off to the SCORE Baja 1000,” Mike told us. “He was going with Futura Trailers’ Glen Reid, who was providing one of his innovative tilt trailers to Kiwi expat, Rhys Millen, for his Polaris RZR race team’s defence of its 2016 Baja title. As well as providing the trailer, Mike and Glen would be joining the team as race support. Mike said there was a spare seat and I should get myself over there. Obviously, I didn’t need to be asked twice!”

Four weeks later, Mike was en route to Los Angeles to meet up with Glen, Mike, and Paul Urquhart — Central Muscle Cars racer — to make that dream a reality. So, how about that experience? Well, of course, you’re going to have to grab a copy of NZV8 Issue No. 153 which is out over the summer of 2017–18 for the full thing, but hopefully the following snippets will give you an idea of just how epic, manic, and downright unbelievable the Baja 1000 is!

Rhys Millen and the team would be joined by Hammond Meredith from Sabot Racing, and his Millen-prepared Polaris RZR, and both drivers would have chase trucks providing mobile pits and fuel stops. The event is massive, and with over 400 starters, there would be over 2000 vehicles on the course and surrounding roads for the duration of the event. 

Here, Rhys Millen sits pre-running the course — effectively memorizing the entire course as best he can. 

Racing would start at Ensenda — an enormous hub of off-road racing activity for locals and race teams alike, and abundant local merchandise from clothing to fantastic food. And, of course, the finer details such as media interviews for the drivers and tech inspections for the vehicles. 

The race would end up at La Paz, 1134 miles away, around 32 hours later — all going to plan. However, before the lads got to La Paz, Mike and Mike [Fraser] would be stationed at La Purisima — a severely isolated refuel station 749 miles deep. 

Here’s the BF Goodrich pits at La Purisima. The vehicles and activity in shot belie the location’s physical isolation. 

The remote location also gave Mike the opportunity for some great action shots — Bryce Swaim’s Ford Raptor trophy truck goes fording near La Purisima, and Cameron Steele’s blasts past in a cloud of dust. 

And another one, this one driven by John Langley. 

Kiwis Phillip Casey and Quinn Wilson make it round the last corner before the La Paz finish line — 44 hours and 54 minutes after leaving Ensenada!

And here they are — that’s gotta count as a success!

This, of course, is an extremely truncated version of an epic write-up, so make sure you grab yourself a copy of NZV8 Issue No. 153 to read all about the full thing!