Wayne's a true baja maniac from England. Quite near to the Scottish border to be more exact.
His baja is a true friend. Can't get rid of it. Numerous problems, fried motors, and he even got a ticket for the stinger-exhaust which "might cause injury to pedestrians." I love to support a baja fanatic like this!
As I always say, SandLizrd loves his readers, and I offer thanks to Wayne for the excellent article!
While feeling quite envious of you Americans and your deserts, I came across an off-road course in County Durham about 15 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne where I live. Off-Roading here is pathetic and usually limited to just farmers going about their daily business. If you Off-Road on farmland you are usually greeted with, "Gerroff moi laaannnd!!!!!" Followed by a few rounds from a twelve-bore shot gun. (English countryside, you can't beat it!!!)
After arriving at the course I enquired how much a session would be. The reply was, "Well, depends which vehicle you want to use, we have a Land-Rover Discovery, Range Rover, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota Land Cruiser...." I interrupted, "No, I want to use my own car" pointing outside to my Baja. I received looks of disbelief. "Do you seriously think that will make it through this course?". Quite shocked and somewhat offended at this point I replied, "They race these in the desert in Mexico". After much arguing and the promise of cash up front, the proprietor finally agreed to let me have a try on the course.
First things first, the man needs to show me the "correct" way to drive through this course. We both buckle up inside the Baja and drive to the beginning of the course.
"Okay Sir, if you'd like to engage four-wheel-drive mode with a high ratio setting, we can begin."
"Er.... four-wheel drive?"
"You mean this thing doesn't have 4x4?"
"It doesn't need it."
"Er.... Um.... Yeah okay, but if we get stuck, don't hold me responsible!!!"
So we head off. I start accelerating over the somewhat rocky terrain.
"Excuse me, the speed limit is 20 mph on this course"
This is boring, I thought. Eventually I complete the entire training at 20 mph, which really sucked.
Now here's the fun part, driving unattended. I head off again taking care not to exceed 20 mph,
for about 30 yards.
That hill looks pretty steep. What did the man tell me about climbing hills? Engage first gear, slowly climb the hill very cautiously. Sod that! Engage first gear, loads of revs, wee!!!! I shoot up the hill, get to the top, leave the ground momentarily. The front of my Baja thumps back down to earth, sending the removable in-car stereo hurtling out of the dashboard towards the rear luggage bay behind the back seat.
My stereo turns back into it's component parts as it smashes off the trolley jack in a shower of broken circuit boards, plastic and a spagetti-itallian of audio tape. I thank the god of Baja that the tape was just an in-car copy of my CD of "Metallica-Reload." (There's something about listening to "Fuel" and driving a Baja that really hits the spot.)
The stereo casualty doesn't seem to bother me. The adrenaline's pumping. That felt good, real good. All of a sudden, my Baja seems to have possessed my soul. I am now overcome with an uncontrollable urge to do that again.
I approach the next hill with anticipation. I speed up the hill, over the top, the engine gains revs to confirm that the back wheels have left the ground again. My Baja re-enters the earth's atmosphere with one hell of a thump. Wooo!!!! I'm getting goose bumps, now!!!!
I then plough through a mud track in manor that is reminiscent of a scoop going through a tub of ice-cream (Don't know how, I only have road tyres). I eventually get round the other side of some huge trees.
Hello, what's this? Behind the huge trees is the mother of all hills. Actually "mountain" is a more accurate description. Hmm... I'm not too sure about this. I slowly drive around the bottom of the "mountain" and can see broken glass, broken tail lights, bits of wheel rim, driving lamps etc. Even the remains of a dead Isuzu Trooper. I think about this and decide not to drive up the "mountain" for fear of sending my Baja (and me) to that great desert in the sky. Instead I get out of my Baja and steal a couple of driving lamp stone guards from the dead Isuzu.
As I turn to walk back to my Baja, I realise that the look on my Baja's mud-covered face is almost like a child at a funfair saying, "Please dad, let me go on the big dipper!!!" Well, I'm a great believer in fate and if I'm about to leave this mortal coil, what better way to do so than in my favourite car.
I jump back into my Baja, buckle up, and charge towards the "mountain". As I approach the top, I begin thinking about all the good times me and my Baja have had together. Getting near the top now, adrenaline pumping, no turning back now. Hit the top and... Whaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!! where's the ground gone? Time seems to be moving in slow-motion. I know there's a ground around here somewhere. Where could it possibly b....Wallop!!!
Now I know how those aliens felt when that spaceship crash-landed and began the Rosswell incident.
I'm doing about 55 mph down the other side of this "mountain" but it feels like at least 100 mph. I think a bit of engine braking would be nice at this point. I finally get back down from the huge hill, when I realise the proprietor is waiting on the course. Uh-oh! Don't think I was supposed to go up there. He's actually more pissed off at the fact that I exceeded the speed limit than anything else.
"Have you ever been thrown off an off-road course before?" He asked rather angrily.
"Have you ever been turned-on by a 26 year old Volkswagen before?" I replied.
"Get off my premises you Punk!!! and never darken my doorstep again!!!" In a traditional stuck-up, posh English accent.
I left grinning from ear to ear at what I now know my Baja is capable of doing. As I left, I noticed a Jaguar XJR sport in the car park in a "Reserved" parking space. Hmm... I wonder who's car that is. There was also a trail of mud next to the Jaguar. It has to be done, I'm afraid. I drive over to the trail of mud, wheel spin my Baja and completely cover one side of the proprietor's Jaguar. Let this be a lesson to all British off-road clubs; Never underestimate what a Baja can do.
Both Swing-axle boots split
Front anti-roll bar clamp missing
horn does not function (due to the masses of mud scooped up by the boot lid)
and of course, Radio Shack refusing to replace my stereo under guarantee (it doesn't say anything in the warranty about not being Baja-proof)
I've been bounced. I've also been banned. It was a pretty good offroad park, too. I guess I'd do it all again but I hope I don't have to! The next offroad park might not have such a problem with speed-limits and proprietors!
Wayne with the muddy Gothic Baja.
Can you write? Whatcha got to say?