Ensenada, Mexico – Competing in an off-road desert race complete with cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles, and quad vehicles might not seem like your average pastime, but that’s exactly where Valentino Danchev was this past Friday.
Danchev was among a field of 239 starters in the 48th Annual Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000, which is the final round of the 2015 SCORE World Desert Championship. An internationally televised event, this popular off-road race spans over 821.38 miles in the harsh and unforgiving desert terrain of Baja California Norte. This year’s course featured a loop race, starting and finishing in Ensenada, 65 miles south of the U.S border. Adding to the challenge presented by the course itself is the fact that all vehicles have only 33 hours from their start to complete it.
If you are picturing a “Mad Max” style race, you are not far off. This year alone, two people were killed and around forty more were injured. In fact, the course is so grueling and mishaps are so common, that a vast majority of participants do not even complete the course.
“The Baja 1000 is one of the toughest races in the world. Though we were not able to come in under the 33 hour mark, I was proud to cross the finish line when more than two thirds of the entrants do not,” Danchev commented a few days later.
Starters were divided into two groups, with the motorcycle and quad classes starting their engines at 6 a.m. PT on Friday, November 20th, 2015. They were followed by Danchev and his team as well as the other participants in the car, truck, and UTV classes at 11 a.m. PT.
The course was split into three legs. Showing a strong start in the first leg, Danchev was running first in the Baja Challenge Class (Spec Suburu-powered Baja Touring Cars) before engine trouble set him back. Following correction of the engine issues, Danchev ran a record time on the third leg, recovering dramatically to end with a strong finish, but unfortunately over the 33 hour mark required to place officially.
Danchev, who started his journey into competitive racing two years ago, had not been able to race in the Baja 1000 until this year. He is already looking ahead to the next race.
“Preparations for next year are already underway. We do not want to miss a beat. The team is excited to improve and to compete again at the level of competition we experienced this year,” Danchev remarked.
Danchev’s crew also includes team members Rick Shelton, Mike Fierman, Susie Council, Marty Jones, and Jeff Brady.