Mark Handley / Solar Racing take on toughest Baja Course in years! Saturday June 4th, 2005 -- Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico -- Mark Handley and Solar Racing Team headed south to Mexico to defend their last year's class win in the 37th...
Mark Handley / Solar Racing take on toughest Baja Course in years!
Saturday June 4th, 2005 -- Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico -- Mark Handley and Solar Racing Team headed south to Mexico to defend their last year's class win in the 37th running of the Baja 500.
The Solar Racing F-150 started 5th in class with Mark Handley and Dan Candler doing the starting duties. With some smooth, fast driving along with a little luck, the #879 Stock Full was first on course by the 1st road section at mile 14. The lead would continue through the farmlands of Ojos Negros, the high desert of Tres Hermanos, and the rocky, rutty, mountains of Uruapan.
A broken shaft on one of the rear shocks put a hole in rear differential cover, which in turn caused fluid loss. A quick pit stop at mile 75 in the historic wine valley of Santo Tomas repaired the rear end but cost a position of course.
Despite numerous backups along the course, the Solar Racing F-150 was charging back and working its way through the variety of fellow competitors. A failed transmission cooler fan required another quick pit stop along the Pacific coast south of Erindira. Guaranteed: No other race course in the world boast such a spectacular pit location!
Now up and running cool and with a fresh tank full of F&L Racing fuel, the F-150 was enroute to Valley de Trinidad when the rear end suffered catastrophic failure at mile 155. The chase crew of ACE Motorsports, led by Mike McComas made quick change of the complete rear end and the truck powered on.
Travis Walser took over driving duties to go from race mile 175 to 277. A hundred plus miles that will not be forgotten any time soon by any of the competitors. Complete backups at several impassable locations stranded race vehicles for 5 plus hours!
9 hours after leaving Valle de Trinidad, the Solar Racing F-150 appeared in excellent shape with partially frozen drivers. It was 3:30 am and finish line would close at 6am. 150 miles to go with 2.5 hours to do it in. Not possible!
Solar Racing went to race Baja and that's exactly what happened. Although race coordinators were no longer monitoring checkpoints, and said the finish line would close at 6:00am, the Team continued on!
Iggy Sanchez and Lorne Jercha took over the truck in Valle de Trinidad, went up the Goat Trail, thru the pine forests north of Santa Catarina, then back across the high deserts of Tres Hermanos, back to the finish line. They unfortunately suffered the only flat the entire race with less than 20 miles to go.
Although according to race officials Mark Handley/Solar Racing took 2nd place via a DNF due to timing out, and everyone else in the class DNF'd also, including the 1st place Griffin H-1, the mighty Solar Racing F-150 was the only vehicle in the class to cover the entire Baja 500 course!