Baja is never without trials and tribulations, and this year’s season was no exception for the Quad75Dezert team. The pinnacle of challenges came just 5 days before the team’s scheduled departure when the race bike suffered a catastrophic failure while testing and 4/5ths of the team decided they didn’t want to race the 45th Anniversary Baja 1000, leaving their contention for the championship all but lost completely. 3 days before the race was to begin, Brandon Brown teamed up with Felipe Velez and the Colin’s Motorsports Team and left for Mexico, intending to see the season through, finish what his team started, and hopefully come out on top of the Pro Quad Class even if the odds were against it.
Going into the final race of the SCORE season, the top 3 teams including that of Quad75Dezert needed to win to cement their championship. If any of the three teams won, they would secure it, making the race more high stakes than usual. The 45th anniversary race started in Ensenada and the course traveled 1200 miles to La Paz. Baja has it’s own set of challenges, and point-to-point races add on additional challenges even when everything else is perfect. The race is unpredictable and you can’t prepare for every possible scenario. The team had drawn 1st off the line, with the 2a number plate and at approximately 6:30am November 15th 2a left the line with Colin’s Carlos Castaneda on board. He would hand the bike off to Damacio Maduena and eventually the bike would get to Felipe Velez who took part of the rough San Felipe section. Felipe came into El Crucero 4 minutes behind the 1a bike, but said the steering stem had an issue. After taking off the TCS Skidplate and seeing a secure nut and a cotter pin, Brandon told Felipe to run it and he’d see him at Vizcaino where Brandon would get on the bike. Felipe took off 8 minutes behind the leaders and handed the bike to Eric Marquez who took it into Vizcaino, approximately 500 miles into the race.
In Vizcaino it was decided to do a major pit stop. All four tires were changed, the steering stem was determined to have bad bushings, but was ok to ride, and Brandon Brown got on the bike. At this point the 2a team had a large lead over the rest of the field – approaching 2 hours. Other teams might tell you that having any kind of lead allows you to ride comfortably, but experienced riders know that it can be taken from you in the next turn and that you need to continue to ride smart and ride hard whether your lead is 5 minutes or 5 hours.
In San Ignacio the bike was handed to Stefano Caputo and the rest of the team headed to the dump at Loreto for the next pit. It was here that stomachs turned upside down as the 2a lead shrunk. 2 hours past the estimated arrival of Mario Diaz, a Class 50 bike told the pit crew that he was stuck a few miles back with a clutch or transmission problem. After getting clutch parts to him, the 2a bike managed to pit at approximately 6am where the clutch was replaced and the team took off in last place with 300 miles left as the sun began to rise. Trophy trucks and Class 1 cars had already made their way through, meaning more were on their way.
Mario Diaz handed the bike back to Brandon Brown for a section of rough whoops. Brown in turn gave the bike to Manlio Diaz for the final section before the pavement. At this point, the 6a Can-Am team of Josh Frederick had crossed the finish line, and barring any penalties, had secured the championship for Class 25. The 2a team was back in second having passed the other 3 teams during the morning, including the 1a team who was unable to continue roughly 3/4ths through the race. Just a few miles before the finish Brandon Brown got on the bike to cross the line and bring the quad to the end of the race.
Finishing in roughly 27 hours the Colin’s/Quad75Dezert team secured 2nd place for the ATV Overall, 2nd place for Class 25 pro quad, and 2nd place in the season points. “When my team decided not to go I was left pretty high and dry, but the entry was already paid and I’m a terrible quitter,” Brandon Brown explained, “I originally just figured I would solo the race since it was so close to race day. It’s something I always wanted to do. My family was concerned because it is dangerous to race, let alone solo 1200 miles, so I thought about it for a week and tried not to be heartbroken over missing the last race. I decided that when I do solo the 1000, I want to be better prepared fitness-wise and it would be more dangerous than necessary to solo this one. I was ready to break the bad news to everyone when I got a call from Felipe who said his team was out also. A few phone calls and just a few days before the race had started, we managed to work out a plan and I headed down with my girlfriend, her brother, a pre-runner, and a whole lot of hope! I really missed my race bike this time around – the set-up I normally use is perfect for Baja – but the Colin’s Motorsports bike was great also and I wasn’t disappointed. For what we had to overcome, I’m as proud of this 2nd place as I am of any of the ATV Overalls my team had previously won. For me, quitting is not an option, and feel like I finished the season out strong, even if the circumstances had changed. I owe a lot of my success to my family, friends and sponsors, and I couldn’t walk away from something that we all worked so hard for this year. It’s amazing what happens when you refuse to give up!”
Brandon Brown would like to thank the Colin’s team and sponsors for their hard work and race bike: Elka Suspension, Roll Design, Duncan Racing, Vortex, RPM, Renthal, DLR, Team Senador Ricardo Barroso, Manlio Diaz, Mario Diaz, Jose Luis Meza, Carlos Castaneda, Juan Naranjo, Julio Cesar Lizarraga, Carlos Lopez, Damacio Maduena, Arnoldo Castaneda, Stefano Caputo and Felipe Velez.
Brandon would also like to thank his sponsors for their support this year, for which a championship run would not have been made possible: Maxxis, Fox Racing Shox, Klim, Teixeira Tech, HMF Racing, CBR Performance, K&N Filters, UPP Racing, Fullbore Innovations, HiPer Technology, Quad Mafia, Pro Armor, Spider Grips, TCS Motorsports, Warn, QuadTech, Maxima Racing Oils, Precision Racing Products, Asterisk, Wiseco, 100% Goggles, Ryno Power, Powermadd, IMS, Rekluse, ProCaliber.com, Fusion Graphix, ProMoto Promotions, Trail Tech, Sunstar, Shorai, Waterwell Developing & Surveys, KBH Construction, Dunetech Off-Road, Baja ATV Riders Only, Murray211 & PitTraffic.com