Issue 34 Go Pound Sand John Schwartze Join the Conversation Like Spending Lots of Money to Risk Your Life? Just Ask F-1 Firearms Why You Should Try Your Luck at Baja Racing Photos by Iain Harrison If you ever hear anyone say that Baja racing is just glorified off-roading, there’s no reason you shouldn’t beat them senseless with a sock stuffed full of their own sh*t. They’ve obviously never been involved in it. There are no nearby paramedics and your chase crew may be minutes or hours away. If you get hurt, you may have to wait till dawn to be airlifted out. The courses change each year, meaning you have a good chance of getting lost and being 100 miles away from civilization at any given time. Plus if you do complete a race and manage to escape serious injury, your body will feel like you’ve been chopping wood for 24 hours straight. As Dion Podgurny, owner of F-1 Firearms, puts it, “You’re lucky just to finish a Baja race, never mind win one.” We caught up with Dion on a phone call shortly after Hurricane Harvey touched down in his home state of Texas. He relayed to us that he opened up his house to shelter some displaced neighbors and a few of the military trucks that he owns were being used during the rescue efforts, which at the time of this writing, still have a long way to go. But much like his racing endeavors, Dion puts his interest in others before himself. More on that later. After opening up shop and quickly gaining recognition for his firearms, Dion became introduced to Tommy Lee of Motley Crüe. Their eventual friendship led to an invitation to compete in the San Felipe 250 in a rented Trophy Truck provided by “Pistol” Pete Sohren, owner of Baja Racing Adventures. Sohren has been a fixture in the industry for decades, built trucks for several champions, and owns a race team. Look for him to host Truck Night in America on History Channel later this year. After that initial introduction to the sport, Dion was hooked. “It’s the pure raw, barbaric nature of it that appealed to me,” he says. The next logical step, of course, was for him to commission the build of his own vehicle. That project became the F-1 Firearms truck seen here. The truck itself is a custom Bajalite XR, also built by Pistol Pete and is part of the Trophy Truck–spec class. For the layman, that means the vehicles in this category are basically bound by a few rules, set forth by Score International, the sanctioning body for the big Baja races … no underdrive or V-drive, must use a TH400 transmission, and engines can only be sealed crate motors with a maximum of 525 hp. The powerplant in this one happens to be a 6.2L Chevy LS3, which no modifications can be made to. Because entrants are so limited in what performance modifications are allowed, the biggest way of making your vehicle go faster is by saving weight. This is where Dion and Pete had their differences. Dion was adamant about safety and wanted a pretty sophisticated communications and GPS system powered by four lithium-ion batteries. A Lowrance guidance package for driver and navigator, PCI SatComm G2 Race Radio Kit, VHF Kenwood TK7360HK radio, and Baja Tracking ROMTraX system allow for communications via text, phone, and radio. In other words, you can dial a phone number and talk directly to the driver. The truck tips the scales at roughly 4,000 pounds. A set of Rigid lightbars and a camera system with eyes on what’s in front of, in back of, and inside the vehicle also helps keep the occupants’ whereabouts and condition transmitted to the rest of the crew. “Nothing ever works the way it’s supposed to,” says Pete. “It’s like the Wild West out there.” This extra insurance, while adding pounds, provides an additional peace of mind for those braving the dunes. The stories you may have heard about bandits robbing stranded drivers are based on fact. Aside from the thrill of being able to race in some of the toughest competitions on four wheels, Dion was entering into this sport for other reasons. “I enjoy taking new people and introducing them to the sport. I want them to have the thrill of a lifetime,” he says. “We go out there to compete, but for us it’s about the experience. We race on passion and stay out of the way of the guys who are doing it as a career.” Much like shooting an AR for the first time, racing Baja tends to have that same effect on people. They quickly get over their initial fear and want to immerse themselves in it further. So, think you got the suds to participate in the world of Baja? Many well-known drivers from IndyCar to NASCAR thought it’d be easy too. Most of them got their asses handed to them and humbly returned to their world of clean tracks and ceremonial milk bottles. The F-1 truck cost roughly $225,000 to build and averages around $30K in repairs after each race — plus there’s the cost of getting everyone there and back. Be that as it may, Dion will be gearing up for this year’s Baja 1000 around the time this issue of RECOIL hits newsstands. Be prepared to take at least two weeks out of your life each year to prepare your vehicle, prerun the race, qualify, and become familiar with the dos and don’ts of racing in such a harsh, unpredictable environment. If you’re serious about it though, Dion calls it “the most fun you can have with your pants on.” Aside from that quote’s connection to a certain scene in Basic Instinct, it makes us wonder if Sharon Stone has ever raced in the Baja series. After all, she likened kissing Dwight Yoakam to eating a dirt sandwich. Coincidence? We think not. Want to see more of our experience with the F-1 Firearms truck at the 2017 San Felipe 250 race? Check out the full RECOILtv video at www.recoilweb.com. 2016 Bajalite XR Trophy Truck Spec Chevy 6.2L LS3 TH400 www.bajaracingadventures.com www.f-1firearms.com Body Make: FiberwerX Model: Ford Raptor TT Body URL: www.fiberwerx.com Wheels Make: Cummins American Racing Model: AR172 URL: www.americanracing.com Tires Make: BFGoodrich Model: Baja T/A KR3 URL: www.bfgoodrichtires.com Motor Make: GM Model: LS3 URL: www.gmperformancemotor.com Shocks Make: King Model: 2.5-inch coilover; 3.5-inch bypass URL: www.kingshocks.com Navigation Make: Lowrance Model: HDS-12 (navigator); HDS-7 (driver) URL: www.lowrance.com/en-US Seats Make: SPARCO Model: EVO III URL: www.sparcousa.com Explore RECOILweb:Arc'teryx LEAF - What is it and why should you care?RECOILtv Shot Show 2017 Constant Coverage: Jared Wihongi Browning KnivesHow To: Positional Shooting with Barry DueckLong Boy AR-15: Stretching Out The 5.56 [Build Sheet] NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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