Story by Jeff Dahlin
Photos by Sherm Singleton
Baja support trucks have a long history in the off-road race universe. Racers and their teams have been using fortified non-race vehicles to explore marked courses and provide assistance since at least the 1960s.
Today, support truck technology has come a long way. A recent dirt bike charity run in Baja serves as evidence. The support trucks functioned like Swiss Army knives and were invaluable to the riders … and, of course, they’re powered by diesel.
The Baja Beach Bash is a fundraising event founded and organized by the Desert Assassins race team. Headed up by racer Cameron Steele, the Desert Assassins have, over the years, raised an amount approaching a million dollars for the Rancho Santa Marta Orphanage and School.
The facility itself, located about an hour south of Ensenada, provides for kids that have been orphaned or abused and also serves as a school for other local children. Sponsors provide the funding; JCR/Honda, Bullet Proof Diesel and even families such as Bryan Batey and his brood all kicked in impressive donations. Dozens of other sponsors contributed as well.
More than 50 dirt bike riders visited the school as part of the fundraiser, and then ripped down the Baja beach for adventure and fun. Four Super Duty trucks of various generations chased them, providing support. Two of the trucks came from Bullet Proof Diesel, who have been providing desert race support for the better part of the decade, and are purpose-built rigs. The other Super Dutys carried dirt bikes, food, and other supplies.
Bullet Proof Diesel’s chase trucks feature utility beds that allow for enhanced storage. Suspension, tires and engine durability are key parts in the puzzle as well; the dirt roads of Baja aren’t lined with repair shops.
The trucks feature race GPS, multiple added gauges, auxiliary lighting and fuel-transfer tanks. Topping them off are custom-built racks that carry fire extinguishers, tools, nitrogen tanks (for tire inflation) and many other accessories required for desert support.
All four support trucks needed to be capable on this trip, as much of the route followed Baja race courses that have been rutted by trophy trucks and washed away by rainfall. Four-wheel drive is a must, and driving ability matters—safely finessing an 11,000-pound truck down racecourse roads at high rates of speed takes practice and skill.
These trucks, like so many other diesels, are working vehicles that provide a service that may be beyond the capabilities of half-ton trucks with six or eight gas cylinder engines. Check the photos to see how they work and what they use.
1. The Bullet Proof Diesel support trucks, ready to support dirt bike riders in Baja.
2. The dirt bikes and trucks started at Coyote Cal’s Hostel & Bar and headed out into the desert as a group to make the trek to the Rancho Santa Marta Orphanage and School.
3. Once at the school, a giant barbeque party served good eats to the riders, support staff, and of course, the kids at the facility. In the end, close to $160,000 was raised for Rancho Santa Marta. Here, pro riders Johnny Campbell, Mark Moss and Cameron Steele all pose with Ken Neal of Bullet Proof Diesel to show off the giant check.
4. The diesel support staff was joined by some Raptors, who also provided assistance. The Raptor drivers seemed to be impressed with the speed that the modified Super Dutys could manage when needed.
5. Running support through rough dirt roads can be a lot of fun. At some points, it doesn’t feel all that different from off-roading with pals.
6. Driving over Baja racecourses down the peninsula can turn up some cool souvenirs. Here, a fiberglass body from a race truck was found at the side of the road and picked up to serve as a keepsake from the trip.
7. The support trucks provided fuel, snacks, drinks, tools and even dirt bike transport. Even though it’s coastline, the edges of Baja can sure get hot, and the riders appreciated the refreshments.
8. During the course of the trip, the dirt bike riders set up all kinds of fun challenges for themselves. Hillclimbs and circle races in sand provided entertainment for spectators and sore muscles for the riders.
9. The food truck. This 6.7L dually Super Duty was one of the most popular vehicles of the trip, and the gourmet offerings it transported made stomachs happy.
10. The gear truck. Luggage, bike equipment and additional dirt bikes were towed by this 6.7L Power Stroke F-350.
11. The cockpit of a chase truck. Visible: nine analog aftermarket gauges, three digital screens, a couple of radios, a race GPS unit and assorted other gadgets.
12. One advantage of having a fully-outfitted support truck is that it can benefit anyone who needs help on the road. Many members of the crew stopped several times to assist locals with vehicle issues.
13. With the responsibilities ended and the dirt bikes all loaded up, it was time for some fun on the beach. Being able to park on the sand and keep the trucks close was sure nice. The crew is already looking forward to raising funds and having good times at next year’s event.