Staying in contact is essential when taking part in a off road desert race such as the Baja 500 or Baja 1000, and racers should never venture to Baja alone. It is advisable to have someone following your progress, performing visual checks during the race in a vehicle in the event of an unexpected breakdown. There are many different options out there for racers to maintain contact with their teams and support crews, and all Baja racers should have a breakdown plan of what they would do in the event of an accident or malfunction while running the course.
All Baja desert racers should come mechanically prepared for break downs by packing a tool pack, tubes, JB Weld, radio/sat phone, GPS, food, water, in addition to communication devices such as Iridium satellite phone service, IRC satellite tracking, or a PCI race radio.
Most Baja racers find that for $1500 or less they can have access to these technological safety devices like satellite phones, advanced tracking, and radio communication devices, but if you are on a tight budget, most racers prefer to forgo the use of a radio and stick to a satellite phone and PCI race radio.
If you do decide to use a radio it is important to make sure to have the frequency to the teams with the most support. For example, Baja Pits, Mag-7, BFG, SCORE are good bets. Some of the truck teams such as McMillins, Herbst and Pflueger will have the most pits/visuals scattered throughout the course so they are also good frequencies to have. It is, however, important to remember that mag-7 is pit service, not a retrieval company if you have problems in the middle of no where.
The tracking service IRC can be pricy, but it does offer online course tracking for people that couldn’t make the trek and are watching the race from home, as well a monitoring system that will alert SCORE personnel to any prolonged periods of lack of movement on a any supported racer. The downside to IRC is that SCORE has too much going on to check up on each racer, and unless you are in a life-threatening situation, do not expect SCORE to come to your assistance if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
One of the best ways to ensure your Baja race trip is a successful one is to be aware of your surroundings and properly prepared for any circumstances. A great way to alleviate some of the stress associated with preparing for a race such as the Baja 500 or Baja 1000 is to stay in a resort located in the Estero Beach area of Ensenada, Mexico, such as the Ensenada Beach House Hotel. Staying at the Ensenada Beach House will allow you to have a comfortable, secure and centrally located place to keep your valuables, while helping to ensure you get the proper amount of rest required for the race ahead, without breaking your budget. The staff at this hotel is experienced in desert racing and many baja participants call this resort home during race week, for both pre-runs and the actual event.