Team Honda’s three-time Baja 1000 Champion, Johnny Campbell, hopes to make it four in a row this weekend, at the famous and prestigious Tecate SCORE Baja 2000.
The Baja 1000 is known as a grueling continuous off-road race, and the promoters group SCORE nearly doubled the distance this year to commemorate the turning of the century. For the riders, 2000 miles makes the race all the more dangerous and thrilling.
The race will begin in Ensenada, Mexico, a few hours south of Tijuana. The riders will depart around 7:00 a.m. Sunday, November 12, and embark on a journey that will last roughly 36 hours, covering just over 1748 miles at an average speed of almost 50 miles per hour. If all goes well, the first rider will cross the finish line around 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.
With the increase of mileage, teams are allowed to have five members, and each rider will be responsible for a section of the course. For example, Campbell’s teammate Tim Staab is a 22-year-old Southern Californian and an excellent night rider, and may be charged with carrying the race into the late evening and early-morning hours. A chase vehicle and a support helicopter will be accompanying the lead Honda motorcycle for rider changes and to supply replacement parts.
Campbell has had many off-road mentors growing up, but the one that stands out is American Honda’s own Bruce Ogilvie. Ogilvie, who has five Baja 500 wins and two Baja 1000 wins to his credit, is now the coordinator for the Team Honda off-road racing program. "Bruce has been a father figure to me more than a team advisor," said the 29-year-old Campbell in a Honda press release.
Ogilvie himself has built a six-man "B-Team" to contest this year’s event, with fellow Honda employee and former Baja champ Chuck Miller filling one slot. "The group is basically six guys who have won Baja on Hondas in the past, and who are all over 40 years of age," said Ogilvie. When asked if he thinks that his team can win, he deadpanned, "I taught Johnny a lot, but not everything!"