Melissa Eickhoff is embedded with the Honda Off-Road Racing Team for the Baja 1000. The team is fielding IndyCar star Alexander Rossi, team owner/driver Jeff Proctor and Baja veteran Pat Dailey in a Honda Ridgeline.
So far the 2019 Baja 1000 is a non-starter. OK, just delayed. But in all honesty, it is just another Baja 1000. Because that’s what racing in Baja is all about — variables. Infinite variables and sometimes, unfathomable variables. And like all great racers, you adapt, survive, and hope to conquer.
So this year’s Baja 1000 might be delayed a day, but really, it’s just another race in Baja.
And that, in and of itself, is a mouthful. Because, what is a race in Baja? Why do thousands of competitors and spectators think they can do what so few have done?
Greater minds have tried to tell that story, and yet so many still ask questions — because it is just too big to wrap up in a movie, documentary, or an article. For this race, I’m hanging with the Honda Ridgeline team, following IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi as he takes on the 1000 for the second time. As big and famous and awesome as Rossi is, he is such a small part of this huge event. And yet, so important to sharing this epic race, often touted as one of the toughest races in the world.
To start the weekend, I asked Alex what he wanted to show the world about racing in Baja. After a long pause, he replied, “It’s complicated. There really aren’t analogies to any other kind of racing. It’s very much a “you need to see it to believe it” experience. And yet, it needs to be told.” So here we go, let’s do some show and tell.
We’ll be on RACER Instagram stories and try to post a mid-race update. Try, because it is Baja. Check out @hondaoffroadracing on Instagram for pre-running coverage and additional race updates.
Rossi’s 2018 Baja 1000, was eventful as only Baja can deliver — including a near miss with a passenger vehicle on the race course captured on a video that went viral, and yet the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team posted a second-place Class 7 finish, the fourth consecutive first- or second-place result for the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.
About the race truck…
Powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 produced by Honda Performance Development, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio, with inspiration taken from the current Honda Ridgeline, also designed and developed by Honda R&D North Americas. Key design cues drawn from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile. Making approximately 550 horsepower, HPD’s 3.5-liter HR35TT engine uses the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production V6 engine that powers the all-new Ridgeline. Additional, custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom Engine Control Unit programming.