“Do you want to crew the Baja 500?”

Written by John Dohrmann on June 18, 2013


On May 1, 2013 Teresa Bacal, wife of cancer survivor and Lexus factory off-road racer Joe Bacal, asked me that very question.


Joe would be piloting the 2013 Lexus LX race truck for the June 1, race and Teresa told me, “Paul Williamsen [Lexus International Training Manager] recommended you as a co-driver for one of the two Lexus GX chase vehicles.”


(Is it me or is our client/agency relationship tighter than most?)



Basically I was offered a leather-lined, air-conditioned, luxury SUV with heated and cooled seats that would give me a front-row view of one of the planet’s most epic off-road races—and one that is on nearly every car nerd’s bucket list.


Yes, please.


Of course, this wasn’t just about spectating; there would be some serious responsibilities on race day.



Manny (my co-driver and far more mechanically-inclined crew member) and I would use the highways and questionable access roads that crisscrossed the brutal 500 mile race course to see, or at least be in radio contact with, the race truck during the first 250 miles of the race.


Should anything go wrong, we would be there to offer assistance and a connection with the outside world.


However, as you would expect with a Lexus, very little went wrong. Joe and the LX completed the race and won their class in spectacular, and thankfully uneventful, fashion.



The GX did a great job of keeping us comfortable over some brutal roads and during 109-degree heat.


Not surprising considering Paul and Joe pre-ran almost the entire course in a stock GX just two weeks prior to the actual race.



And, having a Lexus also made us feel like ballers when we arrived at one of the world’s great taco stands in Valle de Trinidad.



You must have priorities.