After several months of planning, Banning Motorsports was ready to head down to the 47th Baja 1000. Drivers and chase teams scattered from the top of the peninsula to bottom, doing their homework for the race. Four different drivers and three different co-drivers would be involved in the 1275-mile race.
With thousands of miles of pre running the team discovered that every section was full of surprises and typical Baja challenges.
“There were no easy sections except for the highway. We had chase teams scattered the full distance of the course this year trying to be safer with full on chase for 24 plus hours.” Stated team owner, Lee Banning Sr.
The team pushed the car thru Tech Inspection as normal and enjoyed all the fans in contingency. This is one of the biggest holidays there is in Baja California, after the festivities in town the team headed back to race headquarters to finalize the car for the race the following day.
Racing would start on Thursday and the Banning Motorsports 1023 car would be in staging by 11am and took to the green flag at about 1:30pm. Lee Banning Sr. and Chris Godfrey raced the car to race mile 300 with heavy dust but no major problems. The driver change at race mile 300 would have Steve Melton taking over and Chris staying in. One quick tire change before leaving the pit would put them back on course in good timing. Around race mile 330 Steve got held up for some time in the silt and later suffered from 2 more flats.
Melton and Godfrey got drenched in frog wash but continued on in the cold. The car arrived to rm 660 where a complete driver and co-rider change took place. Rick Graf and Tim Sullivan taking over for the next 300 miles. The team managed to change out the rear brake pads and new tires on the rear of car, which was all planned for this pit. The fresh driver and co-rider charged on to Loreto with only one minor error when after blowing a corner they filled the cab with debris from a cactus. The car arrived to Loreto in great condition.
Another quick drivers change to drivers Lee Banning Jr. and Roberto Ruiz getting in for the final leg to the finish. The months of planning and talented drivers and co-riders got the team to the finish in 3rd place.
The Banning Motorsports team was there to greet them, tired but excited as they defeated the harsh Baja desert.
“All thru the night we had awesome lights with the KC pods showing the way, our general Tires were great and held up in all conditions except where the drivers hit rocks, over all a great race with very little problems.” Said Lee Banning at the finish.
Banning Motorsports would like to thank all their sponsors and partners for their support in this great race. Each and every one of them providing the team with critical components and support. All the chase guys were spot on for the entire race and thank you to everyone’s families for letting all the guys come along and for their support and encouragement.
“After 2 weeks in Mexico and 35 plus hours driving back from La Paz it’s funny how simple things make you happy the sight of I-8 hwy, wide, smooth and straight was great. The In and Out in El Centro was awesome. Hot water to wash your hands and then a great burger. Simple pleasures we take for granted. Another great Baja race and a life time of memories!!” Lee Banning Sr.