The end of the day
We finished up stage 2 with a time of 3:08:28. At the end, In San Felipe, we got a note from Arwen and Mary saying to meet us at the OXXO. They were worried, a drunken member of a chase team had told them we were lost. So we went to the OXXO filled the tank and waited. Then they drove by. Turns out there were two OXXOs. We tracked them down and headed down the road 85 miles to the third stage.
The third stage is 56.7 miles of dirt road that both the race cars and chase crew have to take. It's pretty awful washboard and gets rocky towards the end. A race car can go fast on it, but Mary was worried about the Lexus. So, we agreed to wait for her at the end of the stage. It would put us into Bahia de Los Angeles late but we weren’t worried. At this pointed we’d realized that we should focus on finishing more than winning.
I drove and we bombed through this stage. Even though Rhonda and I were a bit fried it was nice to be on a road that it would be hard to get lost on. Most of the course was a washboard and the fj40 could cruise on that as fast as it could on a paved freeway (about 62mph). We stopped at a Pemex about halfway through and team Brutus passed us. The last third of the course was windy and rocky. Not horrible but it would slow Arwen and Mary down. We did pass a couple broken racers and a chase team with a trailer with two flat tires.
The stage took us an hour and twenty minutes. At the end we stopped and waited. It turned out it would take Mary and Arwen a little over three hours.
Finishing felt great. It was the first stage that went perfectly. We ran into One Legged Lance and the Stroppe Bronco chase team and chatted. They were waiting for their chase trailer which eventually came through and then they were on their way.
We turned around and went closer to the finish line. At that point one of the NORRA crew came over and asked “what’s that fluid.” There was a puddle of power steering fluid under the car. The hoses had come loose and rubbed against the front shocks. Three or four guys came over and we quickly repaired the power steering return hose (I forgot how incredibly helpful people are in Baja). Then started the car and the high pressure braided hose blew out. It couldn’t be repaired.
It was getting late and started to get cold. Rhonda (unlike me) is skinny and was freezing. We hadn’t packed jackets. There was a big canvas tarp wedged in the back but we kept thinking Mary and Arwen would be their any minute. Finally, at about 9:30pm, our chase crew showed up and then we had to figure out what to do.
At the same time our team came in, Ted Sumner and his crew came through. Their 1970 Ford F-100 had given out. They were planning on skipping Bahia de Los Angeles and driving through to Guerrero Negro. In the morning they would head to Vizcaino where there’s an excellent mechanic and get their truck fixed and hopefully race the second stage of the day. It sounded good to us.
We couldn’t get that far. Not only was the Fj40s power steering out (which made it funky to drive) we had two kids, it was dark, cold and the two lane highway was full of giant trucks and cows. 11:30pm, in Rosarito, Mary pulled over and said she thought she saw a hotel. She went over a found a trucker hotel that had just opened. We would be their first guests and for $35 a room we settled in, exhausted, and got a good nights sleep.
our adventure continues here