SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal Issue - MAY 2017

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 98

Wide Open Baja Tours Brings The Baja Experiences To The Masses By Score Journal Staff Photos Courtesy Wide Open Baja If you’ve ever pictured yourself behind the wheel of a $100,000+ purpose-built off-road racecar, driving at 70 mph over some of the most challenging yet exciting terrain in North America, that dream can actually become a reality.  Wide Open Baja Tours is an organization that has been leading tours of Baja from the seats of their Baja Challenge cars since 1997. The tour allows anyone to feel the rush of adrenaline of Baja-style action, as you hit the throttle and lift off, soaring through the air like a professional Baja racer.   “Wide Open was founded in 1997 by Todd Clement and Mark Cummings,” said Rob Ward, Sales and Operations Manager at Wide Open Baja. “They had the idea of giving ‘regular people’ the ability to go to Baja and experience the excitement of off road racing, while also being able to see areas of the peninsula that are hard to access in regular vehicles.” Unlike the run of the mill convoy type tour, Wide Open Baja tours offers off-road racing enthusiasts and SCORE fans, a chance to have that level of experience within a safe and controlled environment. Wide Open tour participants go through an orientation course and get behind the wheel of their own Baja Challenge car and tour the Baja Peninsula at speeds with which they feel comfortable driving. Every tour is led by an experienced guide who knows the terrain, the vehicles and knows when to stop and let tour members catch up. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, Wide Open Baja has a tour to fit your needs with two destination options. The Tours The first destination option is just over the border in Ensenada. This is Baja as it was meant to be seen. Not on a tour bus, but from the open-air cockpit of an off-road race car. The Half Day Baja Challenge is the most time friendly. At five hours long, you have just enough time to get picked up in downtown Ensenada, transported to the Wide Open Baja Challenge track, drive the course, stop midway for a snack and driving critique, and then finish the final leg of the course where you get a celebratory cerveza. The one-day Ensenada tour features a trek along the famed SCORE Baja 1000 course through northern Baja and the 3- and 4-day adventures have you meeting the Wide Open Baja crew in San Diego and then driving south along the gorgeous Pacific Ocean to Estero Beach. From the beach resort, depending on the excursion length, you drive into the wilds of Baja getting your fill of food, speed and beautiful natural scenery. “Although the tours do use some of the SCORE race course routes they are not tied to them,” said Ward. “Wide Open covers a much larger area of the peninsula than just the SCORE race routes. Our tours run mainly from Ensenada and Cabo. The trails in the south are rarely used by SCORE but our routes do overlap trails used by other races such as the Dos Mares. We also cover towns and areas in the center of the peninsula that are not visited by the Score races.” Wide Open Baja’s second tour destination is at the southern end of Baja in Cabo San Lucas. The Taste of Cabo and Half Day excursions take place at Wide Open’s Margarita Ranch Track on the Pacific Coast where you can take in gorgeous vistas and see the occasional whale breaching the ocean. For Wide Open Baja’s one-, three- and four-day excursions, you leave the closed track and head out into the unspoiled beauty of Baja. And, just because tours get a little dirty, doesn't mean they are uncivilized. Wide Open Baja includes first-class accommodations (where possible) and the finest meals available. Even miles from nowhere, Wide Open makes sure their legendary hospitality is extended in even the most remote situations. Remote Baja One of the great things about the Wide Open Baja Tour is that people can get to see some of the best areas of Baja that many visitors don’t always get to experience. “Although the tours may start and end in Cabo or Ensenada our driving takes place in the remote areas of Baja,” said Ward. “Depending on the trip, we go into various towns and cities that allow guests to experience a variety of hotels, and eat at the best restaurants. Cabo tours for example leave from the Wide Open Margarita ranch, go through Candalaria on the way to Todos Santos for lunch, and on to La Paz for overnight at the Catedral Hotel. Ensenada tours either go West coast or East coast depending on the time of year and overnight in San Felipe or San Quintin. The shorter two-driving day tours overnight at the World Famous Mike’s Sky Ranch. We also run custom tours between four to six driving days which visit towns like Catavina, El Rosario, Bay LA, San Franciscito, san Ignacio, San Juanico, Loreto, San Carlos, Santa Veronica, Guadalupe canyon hot springs, to name a few.” Arrive And Drive Packages At The SCORE Baja 1000 At some point, guests who have taken one or more different tours with Wide Open Baja, want to move into the next opportunity, which is to participate in the Arrive and Drive Racing program which puts guests into the SCORE Baja 1000 competition. Wide Open Baja has been doing this since 1997, providing those without the time or money to build a racing program and get into the sport. “We provide a full arrive and drive package where clients arrive with a race suit, helmet, and we do the rest,” said Ward. “We focus mainly on the SCORE Baja 1000 for which we do a full race prep on each vehicle that are also wrapped or painted to their specifications. We provide hotels, pre and post-race parties, as well as driver and team registrations. The vehicles are put through contingency for the clients, and guests attend driver meetings with a full race course detailed discussion. We even provide chase crews with one crew chief per team, hospitality areas at the driver changes, and transport to the driver changes. This year’s race we will use small planes. Guests stay in hotels that are closest to the driver change, and we even provide trucks with spare parts throughout the peninsula.” Guests also have to prepare for the SCORE Baja 1000, in much the same way as experienced teams do. “The teams generally consist of six people and we divide the race into thirds,” said Ward. “Two people drive each section, (driver co driver) who can switch when they refuel at the BFGoodrich Tires pits. To prepare, guests can take advantage of full pre-run options in the weeks prior to the race and suggest that the teams (consisting of six individuals) also get some seat time on a tour prior to racing.”  The Cars The main component and draw of a Wide Open Baja tour is the Baja Challenge vehicles. These are fully manual-transmission vehicles that requires drivers to know how to operate this type of drivetrain. The Desert Challenge racer is purpose-built to give a driver the adrenaline fix he or she needs while providing a level of comfort that anyone can drive and appreciate. The vehicles are built from a chromoly chassis that is custom built and features a Subaru four-cylinder 175 hp engine, and a four-speed manual transmission. These vehicles have 18-inches of suspension travel and feature racing shocks, Eibach Springs, suspended racing seats, five-point safety harnesses, and fresh air supplied directly to the helmets. “Drivers appreciate that when passing through a dust cloud, which there will be plenty of if they’re doing it right,” said Ward. The vehicles also feature GPS navigation and roll on a set of BF Goodrich tires. Most set-up as is can reach a top speed more than 88 mph. Whether you are new to SCORE racing, have always wanted to try it, or are a racing veteran and want the fun without the work on the front end, Wide Open Baja makes it happen for lots of people. For more information on tours and experiences, visit Wide Open Baja’s website at for packages, pricing, and booking information or you can call 949-635-2292. SJ

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of SCORE Journal - SCORE Journal Issue - MAY 2017