Cook Off Road Racing SCORE Baja 500 Race Report

Cook Off Road Racing SCORE Baja 500 Race Report

"Black Rhino Performance Sponsored Athlete Sean Cook's SCORE Baja 500 Race Report"

El Cajon, CA, June 13, 2016–Last weekend the #2930 SPEED Energy / Polaris VillaHermosa / Black Rhino Performance UTV race team returned home from one of the most challenging off road events in memory.

The team traveled to beautiful Ensenada well in advance of the race to handle some much needed pre running of the vast network of chase roads as well as to work with KING shocks and dial in the new race shock package.

The week started off on Tuesday when driver Sean Cook and his co dawg Gina Buzzini-Cook set out with their Motion Pro GPX and mapped out all the chase roads the team would use during the Baja 500. The Motion Pro GPX app allowed them to add waypoints and find the quickest routes in and around the course even without a cell signal. The team covered nearly 450 miles of chase roads, and even had time to stop and chat with fellow SPEED Energy drink founder and driver Robby Gordon.

On Wednesday Sean and Gina headed out to the Diablo lake bed south of San Matias and met up with Gerardo Iribe and the rest of the KING Shocks crew for some much needed suspension set up. After a few miles of testing the shocks started coming together. Sean and Gina worked on removal and replacement of the shocks; normally this would not be such a big deal, but with the blistering heat of about 115 degrees everything became a huge task. Sean stated he was amazed at how committed Gina was to getting the car dialed in; she was working alongside Sean covered in axle grease, sand and wearing down fast in the heat! By the end of the test session the car was race ready!

Thursday arrived and so did the rest of the team. As everyone settled into the beach house final plans were made for tech/registration as well as race day strategy. The race car was loaded onto the trailer and readied for the 3am departure to tech. Tech and contingency was held on Friday in Ensenada; the SPEED Energy team was on hand to meet the thousands of race fans and to show off the many sponsor/partners who make all this possible.

Friday night last minute preparations were made to the race vehicle and to the race plan. The team was ready to go!

0900 Race day, the race vehicle was in line for staging, as the other vehicles started onto the course an announcement came across the race radios, there had been an accident. A trophy truck had run into the crowd and killed a spectator. After about a 2 hour delay the race was underway again. The #2930 was finally on course about 1pm. Brendan Cook and his co-driver David Jackson were off and running. About 25 miles into the race they came to a halt! About 30 vehicles in front of them had all stopped due to a truck that was broke down on the hill causing a bottle neck back up. After about an hour of sitting, some of the UTV drivers along with Brendan decided to show everyone how to get around a stuck vehicle in a "Golf Cart". Brendan was running strong through Ojos Negros when he started feeling a vibration coming from the front end. No sooner did he notice the vibration that the front right wheel decided to leave the car and head out into the field! They had lost the lug nuts and the wheel; Brendan radioed Sean in the chase truck and repairs were soon made and the car was back on course.

Brendan and Dave brought the car to mm82 where the first scheduled driver change took place. Driver Sean Cook got in and headed down course. The car was running great but the road seemed to disappear and Sean and Dave found themselves stuck in a ravine; the back left wheel was in a hole the left front in the air. Dave found a spectator to come help pull the car out. The pull vehicle hooked onto the car and tried pulling but pulled at too much of a right angle causing the car to roll onto the driver side, a true comedy of errors! Action Jackson was able to push the car back onto its wheels and the duo was off to the races again.

Throughout the afternoon run Sean had noticed the car making a clunk sound in the front end only on deceleration, otherwise car was fine. Temps all stayed within normal operating limits and things were steady. As the evening wore on things started to deteriorate; as Sean and Dave headed up over the summit the rocks and lack of a roadway were taking a toll on their nerves and car. The heat was becoming unbearable but they kept moving forward. The summit was made up of rocks, rocks and more rocks of all sizes! With some great navigating from Dave the team emerged on the other side.

As they headed into the wash the car made a grumble. Sean pulled over thinking they had lost a belt. After Dave removed the cover they discovered the belt was fine but the outboard cv joint wasn’t looking so good. They tried to remove the axle and replace it with a spare but while trying to remove the axle they pulled the guts out of the inner cup. The decision was made to go the other side, remove the axle, and use a screwdriver to push it out. Nice idea in theory but same thing happened to the other side. They were screwed! They decided since they still had front wheel drive they would attempt to drive out. Not a chance; they went about 100 feet in the wash before the front diff made a loud pop, things came to a halt! By now it was nearing 2200 hrs and most race vehicles had come and gone. Sean and Dave were stuck but thanks to the Baja Tracker they were able to text the chase crew and advise them of their situation.

A few vehicles came by their location and stopped to help out; their good friends in the 1903 stopped and gave some water others just drove by. One team who went way out of their way was the VORE chase team; these guys are a true class act. They gave Sean and Dave some much needed fluids and a little food. They said they would send help and sure enough a few hours later help arrived. The Pro Comp suspension Jeep driven by someone named Walter hooked them up and towed them out to the Baja pits. They arrived at the Baja Pits at about the same time as chase team drivers Jesus and Carlos showed up in the chase van. It was now about 0430 in the morning; the journey out was really just beginning. The chase team towed the car for about an additional 5 hours before reaching the trailer for the long ride home.

Once everyone was secure and they were heading home did news of the fatalities reach the drivers. The thoughts and prayers of the Cook Off Road Team go out to those directly affected by the tragedies, but it has been nothing less than amazing to see how the racing community has come together to help these families. If anyone has the opportunity please make a donation.

Overall the #2930 SPEED Energy / Polaris VillaHermosa / Black Rhino UTV worked well, the Galfer Brakes stopped us on a dime, the new HMF Exhaust produced some great sounds and power, no flats on the Kanati Mongrels, great radio communications from the rugged radios, suspension was flawless thanks to Lonestar Racing and King Shocks. Overall durability of the engine and transmission was handled by CryoHeat. And as always a huge thank you to all our sponsors, friends and family who come along on our journey. Up next will be the SCORE Desert Challenge in Rosarita Beach in September.
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