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Shaken, Not Stirred: Pounding Baja’s Off-Road Desert Dust Like a Pro

Jim Clash - Forbes
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August 4, 2017
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Wide Open Baja Adventure (Car and Driver Magazine)

We are traveling at 75 mph on a narrow stretch of desert along Mexico’s remote Baja Peninsula. The terrain is a slippery, sand-silt concoction peppered with destabilizing rocks and ruts. Flashing by on my left is gnarly, rusted barbed wire - on the right cacti, some 40-feet tall with trunks as solid as an oak tree's. The clearance on each side of the vehicle, a 175-horsepower open-wheel dune buggy affair with no windshield, is no more than 10 inches. A bobble here would not be good. The insanity goes on for several miles.

I’m not driving but strapped tightly into the passenger seat with a five-point harness and helmet, being rocked, rattled and (nearly) rolled. Thank God Andrea Tomba, an experienced Baja racer, is behind the wheel.

Tomba and I trade off the driving duties. Today our caravan of three cars, in constant radio communication, is covering 170 miles off-road from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where we started in the morning, to La Paz, Mexico, where we will stay the night. Earlier, I had taken the car over nail-biting mountain terrain with cliff exposures of hundreds of feet. I have driven many types of vehicles on pavement, and many of them very fast - including a dragster, a Bugatti Veyron and an Indy car - but this off-road stuff, this was nuts.

An outfit called Wide Open Baja can have you on the same challenging terrain. The 20-year-year-old company, run by Rob Ward out of Reno, NV, is full service. All amenities and classroom instruction are included. Driving one of Wide Open's fleet of $100,000 cars (it has 30) in the Cabo tour costs from $545 for part of a day, to $6,295 for four days. I am in the three-day program ($4,295). Private tours are also available.

Want to drive The Baja 1000, one of the toughest off-road races in the world? Wide Open will also provide you with everything (cars, logistics, support, etc) this coming November for the big race, which celebrates its 50th anniversary. You just show up with your driving suit and helmet. The 1000 package ranges anywhere from $50,000 into six figures. Four spots were still open at press-time.

[Note: Wide Open Baja offers experiences in both Cabo, Mexico, and Ensenada, CA. The Cabo tours are a bit more plush. To participate, one needs proficiency with a four-speed stick shift. Vehicle insurance is provided in the cost, which covers major damage to the car (you are responsible for the first $3,000). For more information visit WideOpenBaja.com]

Read the rest at Forbes

Related: Here's Proof That Baja Racing Is a Terrifying Vortex of Adrenaline and Tragedy (Jalopnik)


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