How the Big Boys Play
by Tim Barton
Trophy trucks are the big boys of Baja, a race in which everything from motorcycles, quads, and dune buggies compete. The Trophy teams are run with military precision and support. The TorqShift truck, like the Herbst truck and others, had a huge tractor-trailer that served as a mobile repair station and parts-supply warehouse. In addition, most teams have chase vehicles at various points along the track. The Ford team had nine chase vehicles in all, with radio communications to the race car.
Helicopters relayed instructions to the race car, informing the driver if, for example, the chicken truck on the tarmac had passed the point where he'd be coming down off the goat trail onto the highway. Civilian traffic often presents a major obstacle to racers. The highway remains open, despite the fact that many miles of it are actually part of the course. Fans wander on and off the course, seemingly oblivious to the whine of approaching vehicles as racers pass each other in an attempt to hit the next off-road section first, ahead of deep, dark clouds of dust. This year's winner was a buggy, rather than one of the high-horsepower Trophy trucks.