You are probably
wondering how we all got together to focus on the
unusual goal of competing in the Baja 1000 in 2010. The four of us are
all very different, but we are united by common threads...for one
thing, we all love riding and racing dirt bikes (big surprise).
Dirt bike racing is many
things to many people, and attracts a highly
diverse crowd. It doesn't seem to matter what you do for a living, if
your bike is brand new or a ten year old, beat-up "Frankenstein" or
even if you win many of your races. What matters is that you
enjoy the thrill of motor sports competition, the adrenaline from
taking physical risks, the camaraderie that comes from a shared and
potentially dangerous experience and the desire to actually
participate in a sport rather than watch it as a spectator.
Not that we don't respect our spectators - we appreciate the thumbs up
or cheer from the crowd as we ride by...and next weekend, if our bike
breaks down or we are hurt - we will likely be a spectator.
Another common thread
for us is the desire to test our abilities in one
of the more challenging races on the planet. The Baja isn't
the longest (that's Dakar), it isn't the toughest (most folks would say
it's the Romaniacs Hard Enduro), but with a 40+ year history of
attracting competitors from all over the world, the Baja 1000 is
probably one of the most famous ones.
One additional common
thread is that we are all (except for Scott, as
he frequently reminds us) in an age group where our best racing days
are probably well behind us. While we may have all reached
the conclusion at different times and from different perspectives, at
one point or another, we said to ourselves "man, I sure would like to
race the Baja 1000 before I am too old to race any more."
So here we are...and
here is how we got together.
It all started about
four years ago in a Hooters restaurant in Atlanta,
Georgia. Don "Doctor Don" Gentry and Frank “SuperCanook”
Raimondo met for the first time. They had been introduced by
a common friend who recognized both Don and Frank as dirt bike
fanatics. Over some beers and wings, they talked about bikes
they rode, crashes they had, races they competed in, etc.
There may have even been some discussion about how cool it would be to
compete in an Epic Event like Dakar or the Baja 1000.
Frank probably also
mentioned his good friend (and fellow motorcyclist)
Mike McGee, and how Frank first proposed entering the Baja 1000 and
asked if Mike would go with him. Mike assured Frank that would indeed
be the case. Unfortunately neither of them knew at that time that Mike
would not survive the day. While out on a 15 minute ride before dinner,
he crashed his Z1R and perished. So for Frank, this race is more for
Mike than anyone else.
A couple years later,
Frank and Don were driving back from the
Alligator Enduro in Florida...and with hours of drive time and a
cellular internet connection on their hands, they started researching
what it would cost to compete in the Dakar. The answer was
about $ 75,000. They quickly adjusted their sights to
something that seemed more reasonable - the Baja 1000. At
least it was on the same continent.
It was the following
year at a SORCS (Southern Off Road Championship Series) season opener
standing near the results board, that Frank and Tom Nagle first
met. This was Tom’s first race ever - he said something to
Frank like "how do I get to try this?" Frank saw
the opportunity to get someone else into the fold, so they exchanged
e-mails and phone numbers. Tom began to join Frank and Don at all the
SORCS events, where Tom proceeded to beat many long-term racers and
became fully hooked on the sport. It was sometime towards the
end of the season the discussion of trying the Baja 1000 came
and Tom ("Major Tom") was definitely up for it.
In 2007 Frank went to
work for Equifax and was put on a new project that
introduced him to Scott "Turtle" Smith. Frank walked by
Scott's desk one day and saw a small model of a KTM and a
screen wallpaper of motocross. Naturally, he asked “Do you ride or
race?” The response was an enthusiastic "yes I do...in the
SORCS series”. So the four of us started to hang out and
sometimes camp together at the race venues.
As Frank, Tom and Don
talked more frequently about how cool it would be
to try the Baja 1000, the idea of adding another team member was
discussed and agreed upon...heck, a 1,200 mile race needs more than
three riders. Frank talked to
Scott about the idea, and there was zero hesitation...he was definitely
We started meeting once
a month at Hooters (later changed to venue with
less...uh...distractions). In November of 2009, the team sent
Scott and Don to work the pits at the Baja 1000, so we could learn what
we were up against. Now, we are focusing on logistics
planning, bike prep and personal prep. Our goal for the race
is to just finish the thing. We'll have many mottos before it
is over, but one is "just get the bike to the next rider." It
is going to be a great, great experience.
So, there you have it,
our Mission and a little background.
Team Dirt Bike Bucket List takes on the Baja 1000. It is not just about
a single event for us, but rather about “Living the Dream”.
Why stop at the Baja when the Dakar is just one continent away!