Armin Schwarz Technical inspection: You've simply got to be there! The city of Ensenada on the Pacific coast on the northern Baja California, 120 kilometres south of the US border, has much to offer: Mediterranean climate, beaches, great wine,...
Technical inspection: You've simply got to be there!
The city of Ensenada on the Pacific coast on the northern Baja California, 120 kilometres south of the US border, has much to offer: Mediterranean climate, beaches, great wine, deep sea fishing, whale watching, huge waves for daring surfers - and a couple of times a year the mega-party of the Baja desert races. Ensenada is where we take off for the Baja 250, 500 and the famous Baja 1000.
But before the trucks and Buggies, motorbikes and quads are sent out into the desert, everyone has to go through the technical inspection. And because the Americans more than anyone have understood that motorsport is a spectator sport, they turn the technical inspection into a great part of the show.
Every team has to push their car - or whatever else they are competing with - over a set route through the city. Many thousands of fans and of its 250,000 inhabitants line the route. The pushing can take between four and five hours. Time enough for a good chat, to talk a bit of shop or to have a drink or a bite to eat. Like I said - a true festival!
During the inspection only two drivers and two mechanics stay with the car, which carries a placard with the chassis number. Corresponding to the number, the chassis manufacturer - in our case Jimco - has lodged a pass with the organisers. This is valid for ten years. If the number matches then part two of the inspection can begin.
The inspectors test the brake lights, seats, harnesses, fire extinguisher, overalls and helmet. The inspection committee are not interested in the engine because its more or less free except for the prohibition of surcharging with a turbo or compressor. Even with the smaller engines they don't check the capacity. There trust amongst the offroad racers. The engine is only opened if someone takes off like a scorched cat - like recently Winokurov in the Tour de France...
For the administrative paperwork you should bring plenty of time, too - around three to four hours. We all stand in a queue to verify our membership in the SCORE Club, which costs $US75 and includes the permission to contest the Baja 1000 and 500 as well as all other SCORE races. Then our driver details are checked, we receive our starting number, and of course we are invited to the after race party.
Even during all the paperwork it's not all official. It's about networking, sharing ideas, fostering the camaraderie amongst all competitors in this fantastic race series, which uniquely combines utmost professionalism with a relaxed atmosphere and a large dose of community feeling.
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-credit: Armin Schwarz