Watch This 44-Minute Hood-Cam, See What It’s Like to Race in Baja

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

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IN-CAR Las Lomitas Racing Baja 400 2023 Class 10 2nd Place

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If you’ve ever thought about racing in Baja and wondered what it would be like, or maybe if you’ve already done it and want to be reminded what a desperate, rock-bashing hellfest it is, spend the next 44 minutes watching this in-car dash camera footage of Las Lomitas Racing’s second-place finish in last weekend’s Baja 400.

You can almost taste the dust.

Three GoPros were attached to the #1000 Class 10 Alumicraft two-seater buggy of J. David Ruvalcaba and survived all 385 miles of the course as it looped through northern Baja. The race started and finished in Ensenada, Ruvalcaba’s home.

Things got under way in front of the Centro Social, Civico y Cultural on the Riviera de Ensenada, where they held the Salida Simbolico, or symbolic start. They then ran through city streets for a few blocks before heading out of town to the official start, and from thence into the desert.

Here’s where you get a pretty good idea of “what it’s like out there.” Desert racing is conducted on established dirt roads, true, but those roads vary widely in condition, from graded dirt to rutted dirt to deeply rutted dirt to big rocks and occasional silt, the latter a substance somewhere between dirt and air that sucks in and eats race cars with regularity.

Things go well when there’s clear air ahead, but as Ruvalcaba catches and overtakes other cars, the dust blocks out the sun. Occasionally he has to slow down when he can’t see anything. At one point in the blinding dust, he crashes into another race car stopped on the trail. The stopped car suddenly appears out of the dust. Bang! There’s nowhere for him to go, so a bystander directs him back down the hill to a bypass road and off he goes again.

“We started second-to-last and had a really hard time going through the pack, but we never lost our calm and had a very good race,” Ruvalcaba told SCORE officials at the end of the race, in the dark, almost nine hours after starting. “The course was very technical and very dusty. We got stuck for a while at Mike’s Sky Ranch (race mile 150) too, which was probably the most challenging section.”

Click on and watch. Then decide if you want to try desert racing. Could be fun! Could be miserable! Definitely lots of stories to tell when you’re done—win, lose or never finish.

If you have way too much time, you can watch the entire SCORE-International Baja 400 race feed here. That’s part 1. Part 2 is here. But be forewarned, those two combined are as long as the race, 17 and a half hours. Better to start with the Las Lomitas vid and work your way up. Next is the Baja 1000 Nov. 13-18.

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Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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