Banning Motorsports Digs Deep at Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Ensenada, Baja California
Banning Motorsports looks forward to the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 race every year.
They thrive on the challenge that the race provides but it is also a chance to give to those who are less fortunate. Every year the team gathers food, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, personal hygiene supplies and everyday necessities for the orphanages in Valle De
Guadalupe and Valle Trinidad. For the Banning crew, there is no greater reward than to see the smiles on those kids’ faces when they return every year. “We really enjoy the time we spend with the children and with the fans at contingency,” says Lee Banning, “The beauty of Mexico and its people can be found everywhere you look and their love of off-road racing is unmatched.”
The huge undertaking that is the Baja 1000 starts with prerunning the course. The team spent days running it from top to bottom to find the good and bad that it had to offer; each driver running their section several times. Things don’t always go as planned but when adversity strikes it makes for better preparation and helps the team form a stronger bond. “We were part of a group of racers that had to come up with $1,000 dollars in order to pass through a ranchers land,” said Lee, “He claimed SCORE owed him the money and without it, we could not pass. Whether that was true or not, we will never know. You just have to go with it sometimes; you learn to do whatever it takes to continue.”
Rick and Chris got in and continued on. It’s amazing how bad the frog wash gets after all the Trophy Trucks go through. Despite their prerunning, it was a whole new world; torn up bad! They were able to get through it and on to the silt without too much trouble. The silt proved to be a challenge too but they were ready for it. They got through in good shape and on to race mile 498. This years’ 883 mile course had a bit of everything. The rough and rocky section from 498 to 660 is a place you would rather forget but it was a game changer for the team, they made good time there moving toward the front of their class. By the time they reached mile 660 and the final driver change, they were 2nd on the road to the Wilson car.
Lee Jr. and Ryan got in the car and soon took over first position on the road at race mile
730. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. They came up on a couple of trucks and Class 1 cars that were stuck on course. You only have a split second to size things up and pick a line. Sometimes, no line exists and while trying to get around the others they got stuck as well. To make matters worse, the clutch was beginning to slip. From that point on it became a real struggle. They lost several positions but they kept on digging. They kept their battered car moving; finishing the race in fifth place.
“This was truly the toughest 1000 that we have ever competed in,” says Lee, “The racers in our class were all very tough competitors. Congratulations to the Wilsons and all the other teams in our class that finished. We had dedicated the race to my 28 month old
grandson Zane who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. We wanted to show him that you can never give up; no matter how tough a challenge you are handed. I’m happy to say, Zane is doing great! We want to thank all of our sponsors and team. Without each and every one of them we could not have stayed in the race; you are all heroes!