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Baja p70-74:Layout 1


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FMF/Bonanza Pluming KTM had a team with a perfect mix of abilities between Kurt Caselli, Mike Brown, Ivan Ramirez and Quinn Cody.

Mark Kariya

For those who came late, here’s a quick recap of Baja history. Winning the Baja 1000 is all about knowledge, but it’s hard to keep a monopoly on that particular substance; it has a way of leaking away. The first real legacy belonged to Husqvarna. Riders like Larry Roeseler, Jack Johnson and Scot Harden took the Swedish maker to the win six times in the ’70s. The team eventually broke up and seeded other teams. Roeseler took everything he knew to Kawasaki, and that was the platform for the next real dynasty. Team Green Kawasaki, under the leadership of Roeseler and team manager Mark Johnson, won nine times in a row. Through that whole period, their main rival was the Honda team, initially led by Al Baker, who eventually passed the torch to a Honda R&D rider named Bruce Oglivie. Ogilvie developed his own methodology. The cornerstone was having a volunteer base of enthusiasts who would do anything for the cause. Shops, individuals and Honda employees (on their own time) would go down and spend long, sleepless nights waiting for their 20 seconds of glory when the Honda team would appear at their encampment. Bruce would travel down to Mexico on his own as soon as the course was announced each year and carefully plan out everything—from pit location to rider sequence. After that trip, he would write The Book. This was the Baja bible, which had 100 pages of information, mileages, maps and notes. Each rider would get a copy of The Book before he went down for the pre-run. And pre-running the Ogilvie way was long, tiring and repetitive. Ogilvie also knew the value of good communications. He made sure that all the Honda pits were in constant communication by radio. This was difficult in the days before satellite phones and was accomplished by use of a light airplane that would orbit above the course, relaying messages from one pit to another. That was the forerunner of the now-common helicopter chase pilots. There wasn’t always Honda factory funding for the Baja effort. Bruce was the master of making it happen, whether Honda executives were on board or not. One example of this was the EXP-2 program. This was a high-dollar development project for a clean two-stroke motor. The EXP-2 motor was an experiment, nothing more. But Bruce convinced Honda management that the only way to really prove the concept was to race it in Baja. Thus, for one brief period, Ogilvie’s back-door program had nearly unlimited funding. Even though the EXP-2 project was soon abandoned, it provided equipment, tools, parts and infrastructure that lasted for years. Bruce Ogilvie died of cancer in 2009, but by then,

Mark Kariya


Racing Baja means you have to live Baja.