2011 San Felipe 250

Race Report- “In Honor we Ride”
San Felipe 250 2011 IRONMAN!

By James Woodford of X-Travel

Getting ready for the 2011 San Felipe 250 and talking to many of my friends who race quads, vendors, sponsors, and pro desert motorcycle riders they all had one thing in common. They would all stop me after my very first sentence. You’re doing what? “Why are you racing San Felipe Ironman, especially on a quad?” What are you nuts!

This story goes back a year ago when my great friends Spencer Clay, Aldo Gomez and I bound each other in a commitment that we would all turn 30 years old in February and then conquer the San Felipe 250 in March Ironman. We began training in the gym, riding mountain bikes, motorcycle riding in the mountains of Southern California, talking over components for our bikes, and swapping information about nutrition. We were going to be prepared, and give ourselves the best chance to reach our goals!

Our friendship spans 15 years, and we have a group of four friends that have all been friends since elementary/ Jr. High school, we are brothers at this point. “Los Carnales” We see each other often, we all grew up in North County San Diego, and we all ended up back in San Diego. Our wives, fiancés, and girl friends are friends and we all take great pride in our friendship that has lasted through the years!

We all have many things in common but Desert Racing and Off-Road trips has been a passion and bond for us throughout: we lived for the camp fire camaraderie, great people in this sport, and pushing the limits of man, machine, vs. the terrains of Baja, and the imperial sand dunes.

Our foursome of friends: Spencer, Niko, Aldo, James, changed forever tragically on 9/30/2010. Spencer D. Clay passed away from an unknown blood clot in his lung. At just 29 years of age we were all left in a surreal state. No explanation, nothing we do, can give answers except it was his time to leave this earth, and we were lucky enough to have him in each of our lives. This is the story and race report of SDC RACING, taking on the San Felipe 250 2011 IRONMAN. “In honor we Ride” for Spencer D. Clay: 303x Aldo R. Gomez, 4A James Woodford.


Spencer at Glamis

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Spencer and James

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Pre-Running: Opening weekend- Feb 25th – 27th

We are on a tight budget our race bikes are our only bikes and we didn’t want to put the miles on the bikes to pre-run. Plus both bikes were in the garage torn apart for race prep. Niko and I went hunting for a pre-runner. We found the war jeep on craigslist and paid $2,180.00. The war jeep is an 89’ jeep Cherokee painted in homemade camouflage; it is a straight axle front and rear. It had fox shocks and the BFG’s were in great shape. The front doors were removed and x braces were put in, and all the glass was removed except for the front windshield. It was perfect, we wanted a vehicle that we could both go in so we didn’t have to buy 2 vehicles, we also needed something that could carry enough gas, food/water, and supplies to finish 250 miles without support.


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Aldo and I left for our pre-run adventure from San Diego Friday evening and towed the jeep down on a tow bar behind Aldo’s truck. We stopped in to get Mexican insurance in Calexico and then headed to the old crossing to enter Baja through Mexicali. We entered the line to cross the border and pulled up to the infamous Red and Green light for secondary. With a camo jeep on our tow bar the red light flashed and we pulled in and got the paper work out. We had just bought the jeep, we barely had enough time to change the oil, coolant, and replace a broken lug on the driver side rear wheel. We did not re-register the jeep in our name, we had the pink slip but not the registration. Aldo is fluent in Spanish and he was talking back and forth with the officer, and I was picking up just enough to understand that it was a real problem that we only had the Pink slip and not the Registration. Finally the officer stopped and went to talk to his supervisor, when he came back he said “sorry, we can’t do anything for you but turn you around”. You are not allowed into Mexico without registration. It was Friday night 7:30 and we were being turned back into the USA, it had taken a lot to get the jeep in order and just get to the border. We felt terrible, but we didn’t give up. We made a U-turn as the officer stopped all lanes of traffic so they could escort us into a side gate of the US secondary, we got checked out by US customs and then went back to the Mexican Insurance company. We were calling our friends to try to get in touch with the guy we bought the jeep off of so that he could fax a copy of the registration down to the Mexican insurance company. We got word that he couldn’t find it and didn’t have it anymore! We had no other option so we gambled and went to the new border crossing in Mexicali- Garita 2 and they let us right in. We went from the lowest of the low to a real high, we were on our way to PRE-RUN!!

We pulled into San Felipe about 10:00 p.m. and it was freezing. It was 40 something degrees and we were starving- (from all the commotion at the border we forgot to eat dinner). This is the same weekend San Diego had record low temps, and the Mountains were covered in SNOW! We headed straight to Asadero General for some fantastic Carne Asada tacos, quesadillas, and the best grilled onions I have ever tasted. We were planning on camping in town somewhere that night, we didn’t have an exact place figured but we wanted to stay someplace safe for our things, and cheap. As we were eating we talked it up with the guy working in the taco shop he knew great English and knew a lot about the race. After a few minutes we found out we were actually talking to “General” himself, the owner. He had been living in San Felipe since the 1960’s and he was a real cool person to talk to, you could tell he was a good guy. He ended up having a room for cheap right across from the restaurant, gated, and he was going to be around while we were pre-running! Once again the magic of Baja! How it all works is great! We unpacked, and loaded the Jeep for the next day’s pre-run. We went to sleep right away as we had a long day ahead of us.

We woke up the next morning excited and ready to go. We were bundled up in the jeep, we wore motorcycle helmets, googles, gloves, and had the heater blasting. We rounded the arches, had the gps synched and hit the dirt Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. We needed the war jeep’s head lights on and we made our way to the dump and the infamous first 30 miles of whoops. I was excited and felt the same as I did when I was eleven years old and my parents first let me ride my bike across town to the local bike shop, and then over to my friends house! Nervous, a sense of freedom, excitement, and adventure all at once! We rolled into and out of each whoop making our way at about 18mph visualizing race day, talking to each other about setting a pace that didn’t wear us out but put some distance between us and the Trophy Trucks in that first two hours. To ride a 30 mile leg of the San Felipe 250 is brutal 60 miles is tops, but to Ironman this race would be a test of Courage, Mind, and Body. We knew this well at Race Mile 12! We were the only vehicle on the road, the sun was rising behind us over the Sea of Cortez, and we were making our way. We veered right and headed back down towards highway (5) and many lines opened up I’m not sure if any were any better or worse but we stuck it out making our way towards 3 poles. We passed RM 32 and the course went into a deep sand wash and we were heading west parallel with hwy 3 towards Ensenada. The course smoothed out and we were able to really pick up our pace the war jeep handled great, the gauges were all working great and so far we had no issues!

We stopped at RM 56 to eat a snack and look under the hood, check out the suspension, and make sure everything looked good before heading down the high speed dry lake bed. While we were stopped we looked up the race course to the San Matias Pass and couldn’t believe what we saw. The course looked like 3 foot wall after 3 foot wall with nowhere to get a break; the course here is lined with Cholla cactus (jumping cactus), and is a very intimidating section of the course!! We just said slow, steady, and get through these 5-6 miles! We finally made it through where checkpoint 1 was going to be and headed down towards Diablo Dry Lake bed when we saw our first motorcycle pre-running. A.J. Stewart from DP racing jumped past us effortlessly on his CRF450, we made another turn at about RM 70 and he was long gone down the dry lake bed! We headed into Morelia junction and RM 90 and had a chance to get out of the jeep and talk to A.J. for a quick second, we saw 4-5 groups of people in this location. It was 11:00a.m.which seemed early, and our spirits were up, we had put some good mileage under our belt and the dry lake bed made it seem like we just made a lot of ground. I went to start the war jeep back up, but the steering wheel had locked, the tumbler where the ignition key went was stuck and it wouldn’t come loose! I tried the key different ways, wiggling the wheel, pushing, lightly pushing, and nothing. Finally after about 5-10 minutes with messing with the ignition and the steering wheel. Finally the wheel unlocked, and the key pushed forward to the on position. I never turned the key all the way off ever again!! We headed across Morelia Rd. and continued on.

RM94 – RM 108 were terrible, it was a road that was just made up, it didn’t follow any easy way, or try to miss obstacles. It was rough, it had zero rhythm and it was no fun at all! I think this stretch of rd was our slowest average at 13.2 mph! We had a chance to see the gotchas, which were a few 2’ x 2’ deep trench like drops where water had run through, and a couple twisting hill climbs. During this stretch of road the war jeep’s hood kept popping loose. Aldo would run up front, shut the hood and we would continue. The only good thing about this section was my wife had packed us brownies, and we polished off all of them on this stretch of race course! We stopped at a Baja Pit support truck at RM 108, we bought 10 gallons of gas, borrowed some wd-40, to lube up the cable pull on the hood latch. We saw 5 or 6 guys on bikes stopped talking to each other, they were just pre-running for fun. It seemed like that part of the course took forever! We reached RM 122 and ran into Bryce from D.P. Racing and let him know the Baja Pit was back at RM 108. We passed checkpoint 2 and motored up a terrible sand whooped uphill that was along a barbed wire fence. I think we laughed and said this is ridiculous as the war jeep fell into each giant whoop. The white sand stopped and a line was drawn on the course and the terrain changed to dark grey gravel. We came into a 90 degree turn near the base of a mountain.

We finally made it out of the sand and onto the hard pack red road that was rutted out and filled with rocks. I had been on this stretch many times and knew it was the fast plateau section that leads to Matomi Wash! I learned exactly where the front pumpkin hung down on the solid axle after I hit the second rock hard, we stopped to make sure everything was ok. “The pumpkin is off to my side” I kept saying to myself as I dodged around rocks. I pumped the breaks hard to make sure they worked well in anticipation of dropping down into the famous and spectacular terrain of Matomi Wash. I had only been in Matomi on a motorcycle or quad and didn’t realize how tight and technical the top of this wash was. We were rock crawling over terrain barely fitting in the jeep. My first thought was how do trophy trucks fit through that rock jutting out of the mountain and this huge boulder? My second thought was how do Class 11’s do this with little ground clearance? My third thought was how does the 1x bike go so fast through these sections? In the soft sand of matomi the jeep started to run real hot, I had the aux fan switched to on all the time. We decided to stop and let the war jeep cool down, dig out some Doritos and re-fill our camelback of water. The day had become afternoon and we starting to think about how much further we still had to go. We got in buckled up and hit RM 148 making a sharp turn north and uphill out of Matomi.

We were finally making ground north, and back towards town! It was a rough road that wound its way west, off in the distance we could see the deep blue water of the Sea of Cortez. Aldo looked over to me and started laughing, he started copying the movie scene from Forrest Gump when Bubba started naming all of the shrimp he had back home! He said Forrest back home at the San Felipe 250 race track

we got whoops, we got sand whoops, sharp whoops, 3’ wall whoops, whoops with rocks, gravel whoops, long spaced out whoops, whoops that are uneven, large whoops, xl whoops, rounded off whoops, We kept adding and adding laughing at each one! Whoops with cactus in them, whoops next to barbed wire fences, big crazy whoops that make you crash, small tight whoops, whoops with bushes in them, whoops on whoops, next to whoops!!! We made it down to Puertocitos rd and saw Seve from DP Racing, we stopped and talked to him for a few minutes, we were at RM166 and going strong! After our laughs and seeing Seve our spirits were up and we were ready to get through Puertocitos Rd, and head up Huatamote!

Huatamote wash is another one of those places like Matomi that is god’s country, Scenic granite walled canyons, limestone cliffs with hearty Palo Verdes growing from cracks in the stone! The wash is diverse It has tight and narrow areas that echo like crazy, it has places that are huge that you can ride wide open! We got to RM190 and the course becomes very tight and technical. We were rock crawling again and the sun went down on us! We had the stock lights for the war jeep and they worked fine, but it added stress to the situation now being dark! We had all the supplies to camp if need be so we just kept going! We got through the large sand whoops coming out of Huatamote as we looked west towards the dry lake bed and mountains a huge set of dark clouds could be seen. The lights lit up the RM 200 sign and it felt like we on our home stretch! We drove for another minute and the sky opened up and it started to rain on us and the wind was howling. I kid you not one minute later and the war jeep’s gas light came on, so I stopped, Aldo grabbed his LED light and headed to untie the gas can. I jumped out and helped gas up. We were at RM 208 headed for the finish.

Aldo was using his LED light checking the race map as we dropped into a smooth wide open Chanate wash. We wound around through the canyons spying the reflective course marking tape, I was worried about running out of gas this entire time, I knew we would make it but I had that in the back of mind the entire time. We hit a few slow sections that were rough but we made it down to the smooth well rd towards town with the familiar lights of San Felipe glowing off in the distance. We were close, but I had never done the finish we hit RM 242 and made a hard right turn back towards town. We wound our way through to the finish line, and made it to the first pemex in town on fumes. We gassed up had 13 hrs of race course under our belt and went straight to Bar Miramar for a TECATE and shot of Don Julio! What a day, no flats, no major problems! Just Whoops on whoops next to whoops for 252 miles! SDC RACING!

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Race Prep-

I Race prepped my quad from top to bottom. I sent the motor out to Allen Fox Engine Works in Alpine. What a great person, I felt like he really took care of me, and cared about his work as if my motor was his own. I let him know the importance of finishing this race in honor of Spencer, and he assured me of his work and the importance of keeping the engine free of dirt! I told him I was having problems with my rear shock, and that I had not been able to get it dialed, as it is a custom setup. He gave me the number to M&M offroad who thankfully sponsored me to revalve my rear shock! It was great work and he also treated me like he cared about his work like it was his own. ! I had a new regina chain but I didn’t have the correct master link, or chain press tool so I ran over to Duncan Racing and Loren helped me press the master link on, I had to order the correct master link and have my pit crew bring it down to San Felipe. Loren was awesome and got it so I could go shake the quad down, and break the motor in Wednesday before the race! Thank You Duncan Racing and Loren very cool, to shake your hand and for you to offer your services to me down in San Felipe! I had a wheel tire dilemma, I had some extra tires but they were all mounted on different rims, I had one rear rim that was destroyed but it had a good tire, with tire balls. After all I only needed one new Douglas yellow label rim so I called each shop in San Diego and they didn’t have what I needed. I went direct to Douglas Wheel and they had what I needed, I went to pick it up and had the chance to meet Ty Zimmerman he actually gave my wife and I a tour of the entire plant from machine to machine explaining what everything did and how the wheels were produced! Ty is a great guy, Douglas has an incredible facility, and we appreciated the tour very much Thank You! I finally had all the miscellaneous parts I needed, I ordered all my parts from Motoworld of El Cajon, Scott is awesome and knows what he is doing, I was on a tight timeline and he made it happen for me on all my parts, fluids, and accessories! Thanks Scott. I appreciate all of these companies and the great work they do, I couldn’t have done it without them!

I inspected and cleaned the brake lines, I replaced the clutch and throttle cables, sprayed them with lith spray grease. I bought the heavy duty zip ties with the metal clasp within. I would never use anything else. My frame is custom and so I had my friend Jason weld on new tabs so that the cdi box, and other wiring harness components could be mounted correctly! My durablue sprocket hub was way out of spec on play on the axle so I ordered a new one. Jason also helped me make a special tool that was a metal tube with flanges so that it would fit over the axle to the hub so we could hit and evenly press the sprocket hub onto the axle! It really worked out perfectly. I got busy installing the motor- using lock tite on every bolt and nut possible. With the motor I installed the swingarm, and rear shock, then I ran the new wiring harness and installed an outer sheath of high resistant plastic tubing so the wires couldn’t get damaged. I cleaned the carb and installed the new throttle cables mounting the carb and our custom intake and air box. I had cracked my airbox at theBITD Parker 250 so I custom fixed it with zipties and an aluminum coors light can in honor of Spencer. I lock tited and re-tightened all suspension/shock bolts, A-arm-heim bolts, steering stem bolts, Elka steering stabilizer. The Bike was ready! I spent the last couple of weeks working on the bike at night after work until midnight and one in the morning!

I had my fair share of frustrating moments, like when I broke two of three master link clips, when my fuel line was too small, and when I installed the push pull throttle on the carb first and then figured out I had to install the handlebar side first! Those are the times when you really learn about your machine and overcome to make sure you get to the race with a machine prepped ready for the roughest terrain in the world!! I was proud of my hard work, I just hoped it was good enough to finish!

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Helmet / Graphics-

I wanted my helmet to represent the importance of what we were doing. To visually capture and signify SDC RACING and why we were racing the San Felipe 250 Ironman! “In honor we ride” was shortened to HONOR and that was just below the visor. A Bold SDC RACING appeared in White bold letters on a black background! 4A was in circled black with Hot Orange! Spencer worked hard as a project engineer for Rudolf & Sletten in San Diego Ca. he worked on many great projects, like Sea World, Cuyamaca College, Grossmont, College, he was a real star in the construction community. His work truck from Rudolf & Sletten was a light/baby blue color (nicknamed BlueBird), that truck seen in the desert or camping would instantly make you think of Spencer. I took that baby blue color from the truck as the base color for the helmet. I also wanted the hot orange of a construction vest to be the accent color, outlined with bold black.

I had the look in my mind, and I found an awesome woman to help me design and produce the helmet, and graphics. Her name is Carol, and she owns a graphic/sign company called C.J. Norby. I brought in a sketch and worked with her as she pulled colors, and ideas together for fonts, shapes and really helped me bring this idea to life! She called the next day for me to stop by and pick the correct blue, we both agreed on the same color and spent some more time working out the details of the helmet. Halfway through we started talking about a graphics kit for the quad to match, we spent some more time and she matched my helmet for a set of race graphics for SDC RACING!

Her company and her time was invaluable as she pulled it all off and had my graphics and helmet to me the night before we left for San Felipe! Thank You Carol, everyone I talked to loved the helmet and graphics! Just as important: It was awesome working with you!!

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Shake Down- Alpine 3-9-11 “Motor”

I geared up and left my truck from Alpine to shake the race bike down and break the new engine in. I followed instructions from Allen Fox to run 10 min nice and easy, work through the gears as 3 new gears were replaced, and then take 10 minutes off, continue this each time picking up the pace and revs. I was alone because it was Wednesday afternoon and no one else could get the time off to come with me.

I felt a relief to be out of the garage and actually riding, the day was clear and crisp. I checked the oil level each time I stopped, the rain had left the terrain a little muddy but not too bad! I picked up the pace each time putting the motor and transmission through its paces, everything felt great. Each time I restarted the engine the quad barked to life on its first kick! I got to the end of the Alpine trail and started back towards the truck, ripping through turns and keeping on the gas down the straights. I got to my last spot to take the 10 min. break standing on a concrete pad looking out over the mountains, the sun was getting low but I had found a nice run of wide open road and I planned on pacing back and forth full out on this stretch.

I made my first pass and the bike misfired terribly at the top of 4 th and 5 th gear! My heart jumped up in my throat, I kept the engine running, came to a slow stop and turned around as the idle went back to normal! I started to make another pass and crack the engine sputtered and died and I came rolling to a stop. I kicked the motor over a few times and I thought my engine just blew up the day before I was supposed to leave for the race. I had now worked months in advance and I may not even race, what a waste! All this dialogue was racing through my head! I pushed the quad up and over a knoll so that I could see the concrete pad! I tried kicking the bike a few more times and nothing! I was furious, I left my cell phone in the truck! My race is done!! I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this, the motor was brand new, I had followed break in instructions perfectly!

Then a thought hit me, did I re-tighten the coil ground nut? I leaned over and I laughed out loud the nut fell off the ground and the wire was hanging there, laughing at me! I pulled a fender nut off and tightened the nut down and again the engine barked to life on the first kick! I can’t handle these roller coasters I told myself as I was hot and my goggles were fogged up leaving! I really felt relieved as I headed for the truck ripping through the mountains east of San Diego! I felt like my quad told me- Hey if you take care of me, I’ll take care of you on Race day! Too much excitement on the shake down!

Shake Down- San Felipe 3-10-11 “Suspension”

I still hadn’t dialed in the rear shock from what M&M Offroad had done, I could tell the Rebound was 100% better just by pushing on the rear of the quad, but I needed to dial it in! Aldo and I left our house we rented north of San Felipe and took it easy in the dirt along hwy 5. We made a right at Zoo Rd and headed to race course. Everything was working well, I still kept a close eye on the oil level in the engine.

We headed north on Race Course the whoops were huge but I knew the compression was too soft. I hopped off the bike pulled out my 18mm and turned my rear clicker harder 3 clicks. I went another mile and clicked harder once again on compression and I slowed the rebound down a few more clicks, I just left the bike idle each time as it only took a second to jump off and adjust the suspension and then take off. All of a sudden the bike starts overheating and blowing coolant. I turned the engine off and relaxed for a bit to let it cool down. I started the bike and went for a few hundred yards when I heard a horrible knocking sound coming from the motor, I looked around asking the desert are you serious! why??? I shut it off, flagged down Aldo and had him listen to it, he heard it too, so we decided it sounded bad but it started and ran so we could fix it. We just needed to get it back to camp without hurting it anymore.

Aldo left me and went to get his truck. I started the quad a few times and played around with it a few times, it felt like and sounded like something was knocking inside the engine up near the kick starter! I was exhausted and laid next to the bike at RM11 listening to the Electric current shocking its way through the power lines to San Felipe, next thing I know I fell asleep next to my bike!! I thought in a race I had to finish for Spencer I had better get to the starting LINE!! The truck came for me and I drank a Tecate and shook my head wondering what happened and tried to make a game plan for once we got back to the house. It was an ordeal any way you look at it.

We got back to our rented house, I washed my hands drank a Gatorade and stared at the motor for a good 5 minutes. I started the motor and NO SOUND!! I thought it must be when it gets hot, its dark now and I’m riding up and down our dirt road, the header is glowing red and NO SOUND! I brought it back in the garage and let it run until the motor blew coolant, NO SOUND! I repeat this 3 more times with NO SOUND!! I was worried but I was going to run it as is! I added coolant, re-checked the oil and was ready to race! I installed the Graphic Kit from CJ NORBY and the quad looked great! I had a great pasta dinner and headed off to bed! I thought as I was dozing off- Get your drama out before the RACE! We had to go through tech and contingency the next day, and then it was on for RACE DAY!

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Race Report- 3-12-11 SDC RACING

My alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning because my cell phone was picking up a network from Chihuahua Mexico and the time was two hours ahead of ours. I looked at the phone and tried to sleep the last hour! I got up at 4:30 a.m. and started to get dressed and ready to put my day of work in racing the San Felipe 250 Ironman. I was talking to myself: Ride your own race- don’t get caught racing other quads when you are tired. Push the pace to keep out in front of the Trophy Trucks, take time at the pits for nutrition- don’t forget and hit the wall, HAVE FUN, RIDE HARD!

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I taped my hands up with Duck tape, so that I wouldn’t get blisters! I ate a big bowl of oatmeal with blueberries. The bikes were loaded in the truck, topped off ready to race. I said my goodbyes to my wife and son and told them I couldn’t wait to see them at each pit and then the finish line! We got our little group together to say “in honor we ride” for Spencer. We were off to the start line. I had butterflies and was anxious to get riding it was still dark and the staging area under the San Felipe arches was pretty

empty still, we got directed to our lineup spots and received our Iri Track transponder. I said my good lucks and hellos to my fellow competitors who are mostly friends in Class 25, top notch guys Lipy Racing, Dave Scott, Travis Dillon, Adolfo Arellano, Josh Caster, Mike Cafro, I thought wow Class 25 is stacked with some great teams this year! I walked down to class 30 to talk to Aldo, to make sure he was all good. I reminded him of the same things I was reminding myself, he seemed cool, calm, and ready for the flag “I’ll see you at RM90” I said, that was our plan. The green flag dropped and the first bike was off! The excitement of Class 22 began! Aldo aboard his CRF450 303x had started his bike and was waiting in line, I noticed his bike kept shutting off, he got the bike going and he was up next, as he rolled up I gave him a big thumbs up and nodded my head thinking you got it! I looked at my watch 6:08 and he was off the line, leaning forward giving his bike all throttle, I was excited! Our helmets were on and before I knew it 2A was waiting for his time to start! One more quad and then I was up. I rolled up past the smell of coolant overflow and stopped wheels on the line. I gave two quick revs and my trx450 barked back. The score starting official, looked at me then looked at his watch, he looked back at me giving me the 5 second warning, my nerves and hype were building, he dropped the flag and I was off up shifting giving all the throttle I had, camera flashes popping, the crowd giving thumbs up, and I’m hauling down the dump road.

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I started the San Felipe 250 in 2006, and again 4 or 5 trucks and suv’s were going down the dump road, I flew by the non race vehicles like they were standing still. There is no transition to the start of the San Felipe 250 you race the first 2 miles on perfectly graded dirt road as fast as your quad can go and then you make a right through the dump into treacherous sand whoops that don’t stop, they reach heights of up to 3’ and 4’ high for as far as you could imagine. People who have not run this stretch of Baja cannot imagine how rough it really is. These words, all the pictures in the world can’t do it justice, it is truly something you have to experience. Josh Caster on the 1A quad passed me first and he was hauling, I watched his line and followed him wanting to race, I told myself to chill out and ride smart, I have to finish 252 miles! I was at RM 6. I got to the Zoo Road crossing and I was in thick dust, I took my time through the mayhem and stuck to my strategy! We had a visual for the SDC pit crew at Zoo Rd. and out of the corner of my eye I saw my friend Niko raising the roof with both hands yelling, and I heard my wife Alexis yell wooohooo as I went by! I was stoked!

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I was standing up conserving energy feeling the suspension soak up the whoops. I found a smooth clean pace that I was comfortable with. By RM20 I had seen 1A, 8A, 9A, and 11A go by the rabbits were running. I was pounding away at the whoops when my hands began to tingle bad, I was sure I taped my hands too tight and that I would have to take the tape off! I knew I needed the tape or my hands would be torn to shreds. My body weight was back on the quad sitting down knees gripping the tank leaning forward picking lines. I was trying to open and close my left hand so that the tingling would go away, at the same time I was working on my throttle hand, I just squeezed the bar and let go over and over! At RM 25 I caught Aldo on his 303X bike and I saw him crossing tracks to follow my line, so I thought he was on my tail. I figured he would ride with me, but after a few minutes of rough whoops I looked around and he was nowhere to be found. I slowed way down and drank a bunch of water. Did he take another line? Did he crash? Should I slow down and make sure he is with me? All these things are running through my mind, I didn’t know what to do, but just kept riding. Just before RM 30 I saw 101A go by. After that I didn’t see any quads for awhile. I felt good with my pace, and got on the bumper of 106A from RM 32- RM54 I was having a blast and my hand tingling went away! We passed a few two wheelers along the way and the pace picked up in the wash areas and it seemed like our line was fast and smooth! I stopped in for my first Baja Pit at RM 48 drank some Gatorade, got gas, tires were all good, I was out of there quick! I caught back up to 106A as my line was a bit faster into Rm 52. I saw the 4X KTM bike leaned up against the power pole, rider was ok! And then we got to the San Matias Pass 3’-4’ wall whoops that are just pretty much ridiculous. They have a face to the whoops and they are steep, like Walls! I saw 106A for most of that hellish 6 miles towards the end I slowed to conserve energy and I didn’t see that Quad again. I passed a class 60 rider on a husaberg in these whoops, then he passed me, then I passed him back just before check one. Four alpha through Check 1, and the first 60 miles were complete.

I love the course after check 1 heading back south towards the Diablo Dry Lake Bed. The course twists and turns, through sand with rocks thrown in so you have to dodge and weave, but it is fast and a blast! I came around a corner crossed up to find 115A crashed, It was Caputo I stopped to ask him if he was ok and he limped for a second shaking his head that he was ok! So I ran hard back to the Dry Lake bed. I was mid pack Pro class 24 making great time!


Right as I got onto the dry lake bed a class 40’s bike started going and then we caught another bike and the dust was crazy! I could go faster than the pace we were going but when I pulled off the road the soft silty terrain would slow me down. Back and forth I finally caught the motorcycle and the wind was right so the dust wasn’t so bad and I made the pass! Just like in the pre-run the Race Miles were coming and going quickly and it felt great! I rolled the throttle back from full throttle and kept my pace as fast but not pinned! I checked the clutch cable to make sure it had play in it. The Lake bed ended and I came flying into a silt section, the terrain looked soft with flakes of gold. My rear shock felt great still as I hit a set of waist deep whoops at speed and just skipped over the top of them! I was making my way quickly to RM 90 and was on the fast twisty road leading into Morelia Junction. The Baja Pits sign flashed out of the corner of my eye. At the same time I saw Niko in his Red Honda shirt Sprint across the track waiving his arms pointing me in the direction of Baja Pits. Niko cracked me up all day with his sprinting and pointing at pit stops! I was at RM 90, I got gas I had Niko check the oil level, the chain, and the steering stem bolt, all was cleared and I was about to go when I said NUTRITION! I stopped took a deap breath and had Niko take my helmet off. I remember him telling me I was doing great and I was making great time! I smiled and forced down a cliff bar and drank a Gatorade. I was riding hard, working hard for the race miles and I’m sure glad I made myself eat and drink. I also had my camelback refilled with water. In the time I stopped 3 other class 24 quads came in pitted, switched to fresh riders and left. Alexis got a rag and washed my dirt crusted face, smiled at me and my son Damien popped up and said “great job Dad!” The pit crew was awesome and it filled me with energy and confidence for the upcoming terrain!

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I knew that the RM’s from here until 108 were rough, tedious, and slow in the jeep! I finished my quick break, threw my helmet on and told everyone I’d see them at RM 178! I took off to tackle the race miles ahead. They were tedious on the quad too but thanks to tire balls I felt comfortable following a line off course to get a break in a few sections, it was very dusty in this section too. I reeled the class 24 quads back in passed one, and then was in the dust of the other two for quite some time! I guess the course markers got changed because during the pre-run we didn’t go through the drop off silt hill that was in all the movies from 2010, but in the dust on race day I flew off it in an explosion of silt! I down shifted two gears and was pinned barely making it through the ravine and hill on the other side! I focused on the course and once again went standing finding a rhythm feeling the suspension working under me I went into simple mode, focusing on breathing and conserving energy while making a solid pace through very rough terrain! I made a hard right out of the wash at RM 120 and made my way along a fence line road whooped out to Baja Pits and Checkpoint 2. It was hot back in this section of race course. When I stopped at Baja Pits I drank another Gatorade and quickly ate half of a cliff bar, this was a much quicker pit and I was anxious to get moving again. I was gassed up and ready for more! Leaving Checkpoint 2 is the ridiculous giant sand whooped uphill that was even rougher since the trucks and buggies pre-ran! I made my way through these rough sections I had no dust, I didn’t see or hear any other bikes or quads in this section, it was hot and I remember feeling like I was all alone. I felt over worked so I slowed down to conserve energy, that didn’t do much to conserve as I rolled over each whoop I felt each and every bump. I talked to Spencer in these tough times and when the road wouldn’t let up he found a quick smooth patch that got me through! I pulled my camelbak water hose and put it in my mouth taking a few long drinks of water. I stood up and got back into rhythm pounding the whoops and I finally made it to RM126 and the red hard packed high speed road to Matomi Wash. I was happy and my quad handled the road awesome, I was pinned down the road watching the race mile markers go by. All of a sudden I saw a truck and someone run out waving their hands to slow down. I slowed down and rolled by, as I slowed I saw a landed white helicopter and a rider strapped to a backboard, getting medical attention. I twisted the throttle back on, shook it off and kept making my way to Matomi.

I looked at my watch I don’t remember what time it was but I remember wow it’s early and I’m already at RM132 more than halfway home!! I dropped into the Matomi wash and passed a motorcycle within a ¼ mile, I felt good looking at the time on my watch and passing someone. After Pre-running Matomi and wondering how the Trophy Trucks made it through and then looking at the course after they pre-ran, the trucks basically plow their way through the rocks! The design of my quad really helps for ground clearance and I was mowing through the rock gardens of Matomi. I ended up passing two Class 24 quads in Matomi one quad I passed without a fight and the next quad I passed wanted to race, so he locked on my rear number plate for a few minutes, I was set on the pass and was flying down Matomi. I looked back a minute later and he faded into my dust! I railed the hard right at RM 148 and climbed the uphill out of Matomi. I spent some energy riding so fast and I could feel it! I have to say that’s what is all about flying down Matomi Wash, it was too much fun! I fought to put my camelbak tube in my mouth so I could get a needed drink of water! This was right where Aldo started the Forrest Gump routine on our pre-run so I laughed out loud! Whoops on Whoops next to whoops!! Was right!

This section of the course was rough and I saw a line that started as a 2 wheeler line that became a quad line and it criss crossed over the track! When that line wasn’t there the course was hellish, harsh whoops, braking bumps, rocks, and sand! I finally made it to a point where I could see the Sea of Cortez and I felt like a dog going to its water. I was lazered in on the course! I came down a twisty hard pack road on a plateau which dropped down into a wash. I rolled over the giant whoops and up a hill to Checkpoint 3. I came to a full stop at RM 165, I found my water hose, took a deep breath! I was feeling pretty fatigued and took it down a notch as I made my way to RM 170.

I came into Baja Pits and drank a few waters right off the bat, my gas tank was topped off. It was nice to see a friend, Cesar “Chanate” Lopez. He and I grew up riding quads for fun and messing around as teenagers at Percebu, our families have been friends for years, and then we raced together for awhile! They poured Ice cold water down my back, then put an ice cold towel over my head, and it felt great! I asked Cesar to check my chain and it seemed loose, He asked “what are you thinking riding solo!” And Laughed! He said I was doing good on time and seemed surprised I was in the pack of Class 24! I got off the quad so Cesar could adjust the chain, and my left leg felt really fatigued and almost like it wanted to cramp up! Carlos from Baja Pits got me a chair and two more Gatorades in the shade, I ate another cliff bar and I started to feel the effects of the Race Miles. I wanted to get going, but I didn’t all at the same time. I didn’t want to get too comfortable sitting there at RM 170. I knew that 8 miles of Puertocitos Rd. was in front of me, I was worried about cramping up so I think I drank too much at one time, but I’m glad I pushed myself to eat and drink! Cesar was done adjusting my chain, Carlos came over and got me, he got serious he looked at me and said “it’s time to go, cmon you have 30 miles up Huatamote until the next pit, you are doing good and you have time until the trucks come through!” It’s time to get going!” Cesar and I said “see ya” the quad fired up first kick and I was off!

I was set on conserving energy down puertocitos rd. But it didn’t matter how slow, or fast I went it. The terrain was ROUGH and I was really hating life at that point! I yelled at the whoops and track in frustration! My left hand/forearm started to cramp up if my hand was gripping the bars. So I pried my grip away and stretched my hand and forearm out by placing my finger tips on the grip and pushing. I did this while riding. I got a few more miles into this part of the course and I saw one of my friends and fellow racers on the side of the road! Gary Gonzalez of Guadalupe de Victoria he’s super fast on a quad and he was rolling his arms to keep it going! It was good to see a friend along the course.

I finally hit RM 178 where we make a hard left off the Puertocitos Rd. and head up Huatamote wash. As I made the hard left I saw Niko waving his arms sprinting across the road for me to stop. I saw all of the SDC pit crew and my dad was at RM 178. I told Niko that Cesar tightened the chain, and then I asked Niko to check the oil and he said it was low, he topped off the oil. I felt it necessary to tell everyone how the rest of the course was and at what race mile I had to do what to finish! My Dad and wife Alexis had a good laugh as they said I was pretty delirious! It was so good to see Alexis, she got me a Gatorade and gave me a wink! I drank a few sips of Gatorade and then was ready to go!

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I was flying up Huatamote wash grabbing gears enjoying riding I caught up to a sportsman bike and then 3x I was surprised to see a Class 22 motorcycle. Through the rock gardens and canyons I made good time my hands were feeling better. I mowed my way through the rock gardens of Huatamote wash! I thought Thank god I was riding my Xtravel frame with the extra suspension, and ground clearance, this would be so much harder on any other quad! I took my time through the sand whoops as I headed into the next Baja Pit. They topped off my tank, my last gas stop of the DAY!!! Wow this portion of the course was the hottest of the day, I chugged a Gatorade, and ate half of a cliff bar I told the Baja Pits guys thank you and tore off. I saw RM 200 and I felt like I got a second wind, my legs were fatigued but I fought through standing up arms bent and I found that rhythm that kept me moving through the whoops. Keep it going! Keep it going I kept telling myself, once you get to Chanate wash you have a smooth fast section! “Chanate” wash was named after Cesar’s Dad who accidently fell in it one time, and I guess the name stuck! I saw RM 208, the course was torn up and a few pockets of silt kept me on my toes! I remember making a hard right and I felt the blister on my left hand burst, but it didn’t hurt, not yet! I passed a few big pit areas for trophy trucks and then a Class 24 quad must have passed its gas stop and was headed back towards me on course fast looking for the pit! I’m glad I had a chance to see him!! I passed RM 216 and I was finally in Chanate wash, the first part of the wash is wide open, sandy and fast as you can possibly go! I got my breath back, and got a drink of water from my Camelbak. I was happy to be going fast again and the miles were being clicked off quickly!

I got to RM 228 and as I went up and over a big knoll I looked behind me to see the first of the trophy trucks, I pulled off to the side of the road and watched the top dog pass me! I know that the Trophy Trucks come in a pack roaring through the desert, sure enough a few seconds later 2 nd place came by! You can get passed by a thousand Trophy trucks, after a thousand the feeling will still take your breath away! I got on course again, and I felt pretty vulnerable because right where the trucks caught me was in the narrows of Chanate wash. This wash is different from the narrows of Matomi and Huatamote because the narrows were not filled with rocks. The terrain was still fast as can be, and this is the part that worried me, low visibility high speeds in the pack of the fastest trophy trucks in the world. I didn’t feel safe, I think I rode checking my tail as much as I was looking forward! Funny thing my body didn’t hurt anymore and I was flying down the wash at mach one! Well as fast as my TRX450 motor would go!! I spotted another truck coming and quickly pulled off course and watched as 800 horsepower roared to life and was put to full use in the deep sand. As quickly as the truck came into view it disappeared out of sight in a cloud of dust! I let the dust clear, made sure no other vehicles were coming and pinned it! The Redbull truck passed me about a mile before RM235 and checkpoint 4! I came in to the checkpoint and came to a full stop. I noticed the same Redbull truck was off to the side, the guy working the checkpoint said he’s going to be back on course in a minute, and then told me to get going! I thought great he just passed me and he will pass me a mile from now! So I took off making a hard left, this part of the course was also nerve racking because it was rough for a quad but the Trophy trucks were flying and pushing hard fighting for the top spots and the overall win! I pulled off for two more trucks and waited for the dust to clear. I ended up stopped looking at a film crew member who was filming me, so I threw up the peace sign waited for the dust to clear and took off!

The course made a hard left back onto the old Puertocitos Rd. toward San Felipe. I picked up the pace and my adrenaline was flowing I hit 5 th gear through the crowds and the race miles were flying by! I was so relieved to be on the home stretch! I was up over the bars flying through the spaced out whoops effortlessly on a mission to get back before I got passed by any other trucks! At RM 245 I came in hot made a hard left and headed up towards masses of people! I was not thinking about the crowds, I was full of adrenaline and I got caught up exhausted trying to finish hard! I saw the booby trap in time to lean back and pin the quad! I was relieved that my rear end didn’t kick, as I jumped a buried telephone pole lying across the track! I landed hard into the face of a set of whoops, I ended up crashing as the bike went end over end. My left ankle felt hurt right away but not broken, everything else was fine! I jumped up mad, some of the crowd ran over to me, asking if I was ok, and then going into something about, I should report these guys who made the booby trap. I just told them “to start my quad I had to finish!” The bike started on the first kick but then someone was yelling, I couldn’t go because my left rear tire was off the bead! I looked behind me and Jesse James jumped the same obstacle and continued on! I told the guy I didn’t care about my tire and took off for the finish! Right when I got back on course 110A passed me and I waved him on, I rode a steady pace, back to the finish line. I shook my head and was bummed as I should have known better coming into town! I rolled over another jump. When I crashed my goggles got full of sand so when I hit the jump the sand flew up inside my goggles and into my eyes, so I stopped real quick to dump the sand out! The last few miles of course were smooth and flat out but I rode in at an easy pace because my tire was off the rim!

But I RODE in and finished all 252 miles! I shook Sal Fish’s hand, gave back my IRI tracker, and received my coveted Finisher Pin! I told Sal that I crashed on a booby trap a few miles back, I told him I was pissed because I rode the race solo and then crashed at the very end! He shook his head at me, Solo and shook his head again! I pulled in behind a trophy truck, took my helmet off to be greeted by my family and friends that made up the SDC Pit crew. I got a big kiss from Alexis, my son ran up to greet me! Niko and everyone was pumped! I had done it, I finished with a great team of support and a great plan!

The race miles, and the crash were setting in and I needed to sit down and get some liquids in me! It took me about a half hour before I finally ate some tacos and started to feel better! We were sitting with the guys from Azteca Motorsports who are really cool guys, they even let me sit in a chair under their canopy while we waited for 303X! I wanted to take my left boot off and ice my ankle, but I didn’t because I didn’t know how bad it was. Aldo got to RM 178 about an hour behind me so he would be awhile! More buggies, trucks, sportsmen bikes and quads kept coming into the finish line! I heard a 450 crack its throttle and I saw 303x pull into the finishing area! He rolled in shaking his head, he was happy to be done! He said “James that track never gave up, it never let up, it was never easy. It was whoops, and rocks the entire 252 miles!!!”We did it though as a team of Brothers in honor of Spencer Clay, he was with us in spirit and always will be!

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I have done things in life that I considered hard, training and conditioning for college football, 4 th quarter laying it all on the line against the best, racing sections in the Baja 1000, 500, and 250 on ATV’s. Nothing thus far comes close to riding San Felipe Ironman. It was like playing 8 college football games in a row. I would hear guys at the pits coming in to switch riders and say that was the worst 40 miles of my life! Matlock Racing wrote.” This course is always known for endless miles of sandy whoops and after a week of prerunning all the riders agreed this course was going to be the roughest San Felipe yet.” The night after the race I drank Pedialyte, ate like a horse, and went to bed pretty early. I laid in bed and every part of my body was sore. My hands were stinging from the broken blisters, my ankle was sore from the crash, my lower back was in knots. I couldn’t sleep because every time I moved I was so sore, it would wake me up. I got up and hobbled over to the first aid kit and dressed my stinging hands in Neosporin and gauze, I then took 4 more ibuprofen. When I laid back down I thought about what we accomplished, and how Spencer would have finished and loved accomplishing such a difficult goal. That was his essence, to prove to himself he had what it took. He didn’t push so hard in life for recognition, or praise. He pushed so hard to prove to himself, and gain his own self respect and worth. When he accomplished that for himself, the recognition, respect, and praise followed. We all looked up to him for that and loved that about him! I was proud of my family and friends and the team effort put in to finish the race. I was so proud of Aldo finishing, Ironman his first Race ever! That shows his true grit character! I had a brief sense of relief as laid in bed. I smiled and was proud of myself I pushed hard, rode my heart out and like Spencer created my own Self Respect, and Worth! No matter how sore I was, how hard it was, how many hours it took to finish the race, or how many long nights I put into prepping the bike before the race. It was all worth it! To Honor Spencer, to accomplish our goals, no one can ever take that away from me! It wasn’t just a desert race. It was a life changing event!

A Special Thank You to: SDC RACING PIT CREW aka “La Famila”

Alexis, Damien, Niko, Mike, Jimmy, Juan, Mimi, Miguel, Katherine, Sarah, Danny, Jeremiah, Claudia, Sergio.


“In Honor We Ride” San Felipe 250 2011- Spencer David Clay Missed but never forgotten!

A huge Thank You to my Sponsors! I couldn’t have made it to the start or finish line without your help!!




A big Thank You to the companies and great people that helped me out, I couldn’t have done it without you!











I want to thank my wife Alexis for her HUGE support, and dealing with my crazy antics, and long hours before the race, my awesome son Damien for helping out, and always having a great attitude. I love you guys!

Thank You Sarah Bolter for coming in support of Spencer, It meant a lot to all of us.

Thank You to you and the entire off road community  

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The numbers





























Roberto Ruiz













Christian Vera













Craig Christy













Travis Dillon













Paul Velasquez













Rafael Torres F.













Wayne Matlock













James Woodford













Mike Cafro













Manlio F. Diaz A.










Physical Time down: Winning Class 25 ATV 2011

Class 25


Check 1

Check 2

Check 3

Check 4


10A Ruiz

1 st














Time Down:

17 min

32 min

48 min

106 min

123 min

Physical Time down: Defending Class 25 ATV

Class 25


Check 1

Check 2

Check 3

Check 4


1A Matlock















Time Down:

6 min

24 min

34 min

78 min

88 min

4A average speed per SCORE Checkpoints

Class 25


Start-Check 1

Chk1 - Chk2

Chk2 – Chk3

Chk3 – Chk4




32.63 mph

35.64 mph

32.25 mph

24.71 mph

30.91 mph








If you look at my average mph I was by far slowest Between Check 3- Check4: Yes I was tired, fatigued and felt the Race Miles. But more than anything else I had to stop, pull over to let Trophy Trucks pass, wait for dust to clear and then continue. Doing that 6 times during a 70 mile leg will lower your avg. by 8 mph!!

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