The Baja 1000 is an incredible adventure. To properly prepare for it you need to have the mindset of “Expect the Unexpected.” Proper preparation means plenty of time to get to pits for chase crews. Thinking one truck can get your car from Ensenada to La Paz is unrealistic and unsafe.
Providing relay efforts to medical resources for the tragic and avoidable accidents on Hwy 1 are a very sobering part of being the Weatherman. Pit clubs like BFGoodrich, Mag 7, Checkers, Baja Pits and others can help with your logistics and make racing in Baja manageable for the smaller team. Make good choices and understand winning is not worth putting yourself, your team or fellow racers in harm’s way.
The Baja 1000 Peninsula run is in my opinion the greatest race of all time. However, it’s not a great race for two-way radio VHF coverage. There will be times you will be outside of Race Radio range! Mount Diablo does a great job of covering Northern Baja, but as you head South the mountains are much smaller and won’t offer that type of coverage.
An aircraft is needed to cover the lower 2/3 of Baja. Airplanes need to stop for fuel, Baja airports need good weather, Pilots and relay crew need to break for sleep, food and the facilities. The SCORE airplane will be in the air to cover the Weatherman Relay Channel, but it is not continuous. I strongly recommend you have a secondary form of communications at this race.
In the race vehicle you will have the Stella/Anube system is a Satellite based system. It will be able to send a message for help or medical if you have an issue. Race day is not the day to figure out how this system works. Drivers and Co-Driver’s should know how to use this before they put their helmets on.
I strongly recommend all race vehicles and chase trucks have a Satellite phone. Don’t just hand your guys a sat phone, make sure they know how to use it and give them a list of emergency phone numbers. The SCORE Racer brief will have a list of phone numbers for SCORE ops. You can reach me directly on the mountain by text or voice call at 562-279-0700 (my regular number during the week at PCI.) You can also email me on race day at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want me to let you in on a secret of the big teams? Have a communications hub at home. A buddy, wife, girlfriend who can be your team relay and can help you with status updates from a strong internet signal. When sat phones are being used in Baja, they do reach a level of saturation and it’s harder to get a call in or out. Teach your crew how to use the email and text feature.
For those without iMessage, WhatsApp is a helpful app that allows you to send and receive text messages with a WiFi signal. Again, don’t try to learn this on race day – download it and test it out at home.
PCI Race Radios has a team to help me on race day and we are available via Live Steam, Chat, email, text and voice. The stream can move quickly with chat, text or email will be a better queue for me to reply to status requests. This is also an ideal way to let me know if your team is out of the race. Check out our full Baja 1000 Information page for important information about Weatherman and PCI for the race.
Remember to Expect the Unexpected and make your communications plan with your team now. Have a safe and fun Baja, talk to you all down there!
Scott Steinberger, Weatherman