The Baja 1000 is the toughest road race on the planet. To win it, you need a lot of guts, a lot of money and a state-of-the-art new truck
By Preston LernerPosted 11.01.2006 at 2:00 am 5 Comments
This isn't a road in the sense that it has a name or can be found on a map. It's just a trail covered with boulders and potholes superimposed on an inhospitable stretch of the Mojave Desert 25 miles south of Las Vegas. You wouldn't dream of driving over it in a car. Even in a Jeep or a kick-ass 4x4, you'd crawl along in low gear, wincing at the toll it was taking on your tires, suspension and kidneys.
Alan Pflueger flies along it at 98 miles an hour. And that's not "flying" used figuratively. He's getting air under the tires of his two-and-a-half-ton truck as he vaults over crests and crashes into gullies with a giant plume of dust streaming in his wake. Pflueger's flying machine is a purpose-built racing leviathan known as a Trophy-Truck. Created to conquer the Baja 1000, the world's toughest off-road race, Trophy-Trucks cross the gnarliest terrain on the continent at speeds that can exceed 140 mph. Almost anything goes in this unlimited class, from 800-horsepower V8 engines to state-of-the-art electronics to titanium springs the size of laser-guided missiles. "Trophy-Trucks are the most complicated and sophisticated race vehicles in existence," says former Nissan Motorsports chief Frank Honsowetz, who should know; his experience encompasses Baja, the Indy 500 and Le Mans.