The 2014 Mexican 1000, a four day adventure through 1300 miles of the Baja California desert started on May 10 in Ensenada and ended on May 14 in San Jose del Cabo. For the third year FireForce Racing campaigned a 1968 Ford F-100 “Fire Truck.” The group included the “Driver of Record” Bob Motheral, with co-drivers Bruce Galien and Greg Dreyer. Chase crew members were Mike Reitmayer, Debbie Galien and Steve Saurman.
Saturday, May 10 was contingency and technical inspection where all the cars are inspected for safety requirements and to make sure they meet the specifications of the class. Thanks to IMPACT Racing Products all our safety equipment passed. We were entered in “Vintage Open Truck” with 18 others in our class and a total of 85 entrants in the “Vintage Division.”
Race Day, Sunday, May 11 – Ensenada to Bay of Los Angeles, 475 miles.
Line up at 0500 for 0600 start. Bob driving, Greg co-driver. All is well until the exhaust pipes start coming loose due to amateur moves by the prep guy. Get going again and then get stuck in the sand – twice! An hour later the motor just stops! Pop the hood, look around with the help of some locals, who decide it’s a bad coil. Fortunately we have two. Going again, an hour later the motor stops again. This time out of gas! Another amateur move by installing a new carb with almost no test time. 4 mpg instead of 7 mpg means you can’t go as far on a tank of gas. Chase crew spends two hours finding and bringing gas to the race truck.
Change drivers – Bruce driving. Five miles into it, an inebriated local hurls a grapefruit size rock and hits the cab just above the drivers head. Next we come upon one of the cars upside down. Spend some time rolling him back over onto the rubber side. Ten minutes later WE are stuck in the silt! Karma is on our side as a guy comes along and pulls us out. All is going well, it’s dark, and we are hauling ass down a good graded road. All of a sudden the lights go out and the engine stops. Lost all electrical power – and did I say it was DARK outside? Spent an hour tracing down the problem – bad ignition switch. Used some old school “hot wire” techniques and a pair of needle nose pliers for our “key” to start the truck. We got going again with the co-driver holding the center console up so we wouldn’t short out the wires. The co-driver was so excited to see our chase crew he dropped the console, shorting out the wires, and the whole wiring loom burned up! After another hour of repair, we made it down the highway to Bay of Los Angeles at 1:00 AM!
Day 2 – Bay of Los Angeles to Loreto – 402 miles
Spent the morning changing the carburetors. Checked fluids, nuts and bolts, changed our K&N filter. Greg is driving, Bob is co-driver – off to a good start until Greg finds a large rock at about 70 mph and breaks a front wheel. Stop to change it, then gets the truck stuck in the soft shoulder. Hit the highway and we discover a coilover shock leaking badly. Pulled into Rice and Beans in San Ignacio and changed shocks with our one spare that we had to make work. Next up Bruce driving and Steve S. co-driver. 85 mph down the San Ignacio Lagoon road (now paved unfortunately), hit the beach road, soft sand for 30 plus miles. Thanks to Steve Culhane our C6 trans held up. Over the mountains from La Purisima to Hwy 1 and transition down to Loreto, arriving just after dark.
Day 3 – Loreto to La Paz – 268 miles
Late start time so we had time in the morning to do all our prep work. Greg driving, Bruce co-driving. All is well in the lineup until it is our turn to go. Start the motor, GPS goes out. Hit the wash, I drop the route book on the floor. Luckily I have been up this road before and have a good idea where to go – OOOPS missed the first turn out of the wash. U-turn and Greg has got it. Shows me some of his Pike’s Peak skills on the road to San Javier. Change drivers – Bob driving, Mike R. co-driver. 126 mile section – First half to the highway no issues, after that silt, silt, silt. Bob did a great job getting that old two wheel drive truck thru some nasty stuff. But with all his efforts the sway bar mount broke. Tried to work on it using the welder loaned to us by Jim and Jen at Higher Ground 4×4.
Day 4 – last day – La Paz to San Jose del Cabo – 164 miles.
Start in La Paz up the wash – what? This is not a race section? Oh well, put on a good show, then cruised to Los Divisideros. Worked thru the slippery, twisty, turny, rancho roads. Had a close call passing another competitor, getting around two broken down trucks, then up and over the hill to the Sea of Cortez. Down the to Las Barriles, then race past my house in Las Barracas around the East Cape road and on to San Jose del Cabo. Nothing better, red lights and siren, racing down the main street in town, all four barrels open, flames belching out the exhaust to the finish line!
Vince Lombardi comes to mind with his timeless quote: “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, his greatest fulfillment of all the he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of batttle – victorious!”
We came out in the middle of the pack, against some stiff competition, 9th in class, and 40th overall out of 85 vintage entries. As backyard mechanics with limited resources, we consider this “victorious.”
We also want to thank Mike Ryan of Picture Vehicles Unlimited for giving the truck a place to live and work this last year.
By Bruce Galien, LAFD retired