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Off Road Rush Blog

Get yourself behind the wheel of a WRX Turbo Car or a V8 Race Buggy. Discover the secrets of these awesome cars, get sideways and have a load of fun!

Baja 1000 Story

Admin TeamSep 20, 2015 1 Comments

Back in 2010, in a bar in San Antonio Chris Western and Mickey Thompson Brand Manager Brad Smith wrote on a napkin that Chris would race the 2014 Baja 1000. That is how the deal was done and the date was set.

With over 18 months in planning and preparations, including the commissioning and building of an Element Off Road Prodigy buggy,the first Australian built buggy to contest the Baja 1000, getting the Element to the checkered flag is testament to the reliability, endurance and passion of not only Chris as the driver, but also the team from Element Off Road. The Car was built in Walker Flat, South Australia by Rowan Eggers.

The Element Prodigy was shipped to LA from Brisbane in August 2014 to be checked over and ‘tagged’ by SCORE International to be allowed to race in the Baja 1000. This was a huge feat for Race Car Engineer Rowan.

"It has been my dream to race the Baja 1000 since I was a little kid” Chris explained before the event. “I even had a VW Baja that had "BAJA painted on it. have only ever wanted to do the Peninsula Run. To me that is the real Baja. Mickey Thompson drove it solo and won it outright in 1982 and I want to drive it solo also. The car has to be reliable which is why I have chosen an Element Car.”

Five navigators tackled the Mexican desert with Chris, keeping him on track, awake and being the voice of reason when exhaustion kicked in. Dad Rhyce Western started the journey, racking up 155 miles before Aaron Haby stepped in. Aaron handed over to Stuey Bishop at the 376 mile mark with Stuey doing the bulk of the night race - the Lightforce Lights turning night into day - before handing over to Mick Van Morsell at 742 miles. Troy Boland jumped in from 940 to 1180 miles, giving the seat back to Stuey and then Rhyce for the father and son crew’s final stint to the checkered flag.

After battling fatigue, hallucinations and the Mexican desert for just over 32 hours and 1275 miles, Chris pulled off the extra human feat of driving full race distance at the Baja 1000. The Element Prodigy performed faultlessly for the entire race; the only mechanical stop to replace the CVs. The Prodigy, sporting Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tyres, also did full race distance without a flat tyre and only a rear tyre change needed after 490 miles of racing.

To put it into perspective, the team raced the equivalent of 27 laps of Sea Lake, or driven from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie, or raced from Alice Springs to Finke and back 4 and half times, or completed two Bathurst 1000's plus a couple of extra laps, in some of the harshest racing terrain imaginable.

While Chris’s Baja Ironman achievement has been extraordinary, it has taken a crew of 30, all family and friends, to get Chris to the finish line, including five navigators, two support chase cars, wife’s and children managing the Mexican end of the logistics and the Sydney based team coordinating all the communications and tracking.

"I told my mates and family to come to Baja and I didn't want to the let them down. In the end, that's what got me across the line" said a very tired Chris Western, and so after 10 fuel stops, five navigator swaps, one mechanical stop, one cat nap stop and just over 32 hours of racing Chris Western and the Off Road Rush Mickey Thompson Race Team have made it to La Paz and the checkered flag, completing a lifelong dream.

The final result for Chris 8th in Class/43rd Outright, with over 300 vehicles entered. An ‘Ironman’ Effort.

Comments
  • Anton Jones
    16-Jun-2016 02:02 PM

    I met Chris at Finke 2016, we had just rolled into the finish line in our Finke truck #831, he was sitting is his awesome buggy... I asked him if he was okay and he said "Yep, this is the most comfortable seat in the house", I laughed and thought to myself "The whole buggy is a damn fine thing to be sitting in!".

    All I can say is he is a great competitor and an easy going, down to earth bloke. And obviously he can teach from the beginner level right up to the experienced. Get into it and learn from the best!

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