by Gabriel Arcoleo
On February 7th, this year’s Pro Baja Off Road Series kicked off its 2016 season in Los Barriles with the Los Barriles 300. This year will be the first time that all race classes are being held in Mexico at the same time.
Last year’s race winners are back to defend their titles, and the vehicles they bring continue to push the limits of mechanical engineering and associated costs. Today teams range from Silicon Valley executive sponsored mega teams to local good ol’ boys in hopped-up VW buggies – also known as Baja Bugs. Brian Westerlund, a local real estate broker from La Paz, has his team back in the mix. Diamante Realtors racing, which works alongside the large Mexican team Ruffo Racing, will be competing in the 2016 championship. Team Diamante Racing is running a class 2 unlimited suspension buggy with a limited motor. Brian, Team Diamantes pilot, will be running again this year after a 12-year hiatus from racing. His past experience in racing brought him down to Baja from Canada to race the Baja 1000 in 1999. At the time he was racing open wheel in the formula Atlantic Indy car series.
This season will be a very exciting year for off-road racing enthusiasts in Baja Sur. In past years, classes were split and often running at the same time, which diluted the fields and made it difficult to stay abreast of developments. This year, just one championship means a lot more cars, trucks, and buggies in one race – making this year a spectators’ paradise. Nine races spread throughout the calendar year and across Baja Sur should bring the largest crowds the event has ever seen. This year’s groups of sponsors are impressive and should bring a new group of enthusiasts to the event. Companies such as La Paz Chevrolet, Baja Ferries, Century 21, Liverpool, Grupo Fonsier, and Murillo Materials have all signed on, making this year’s race season special. Baja racing is one of BCS’s largest sports and draws thousands of people each year to the area. It goes without saying that cultivating such an event is beneficial to all business in Baja Sur.
If you plan on attending a race, be sure to catch the race vehicles at the start of the race and pick out your favorites by class. You will then want to scout out a nice location to watch the race. Be sure to locate a spot were the vehicles are hitting top speed and hopefully flying in the air. Remember to always set up on the side of the road where the dust doesn’t blow and bring plenty of shade. You will also want to stay off the track and keep your car as far away as possible from the track. Accidents do and will happen, so be sure to protect yourself.
Score, the other sanctioning body of Baja racing, will also have two races in BCS this year:the Baja Sur 500 and the Baja 1000. They are scheduled to run in La Paz this November. Check Probajaoffroad.com for any updates or developments in this year’s exciting run to the championship.
Gabriel Arcoleo is a realtor at Diamante Associates.