The “LOCO SANDOVAL” short course track, a couple of miles north out of San Jose del Cabo has always attracted a huge crowd. Maybe it is the 1.3 kilometer track, that becomes so dug out during race day that at the end of the day, it has 4 foot holes in it, which would make most CORR Pro2 stand on their noses, requiring a mixture of short course engine power and San Felipe woops suspension. Maybe it is the fact that most of the track can be entirely seen by the spectators, allowing them to follow the duels, clashes and crashes up close and personal. Maybe it is that the track is also a driver’s favorite, bringing out most of the best races teams and favorite racers. Or maybe it is just that if you can handle the huge queue to get in, and the even longer queue to get out, the whole day is an adrenaline fueled party for the entire family!
The 2016 “Tormenta del Desierto” made no exception, with over 10,000 fans gathering to watch the show, with 131 teams turning up to race, as well as the 37 motorcycle and quad teams that participated, that started revving their engines at 7.00am. The track quickly started to claim its victims, although none of the accidents had serious implications and were quickly attended to.
As the four wheel vehicles started, it was amazing to see some of the classes with over 20 entries participate. Together… In one heat…. In a 1.3 kilometer track… Can you picture 20 lunatics together in full on race cars, all starting together in a 1.3 km track? Pretty exciting and lead to some incredible moments, and also made for some pretty scary moments with a couple of pile ups…
Aside from car damage, the biggest setback of the crashes was the delay in clearing the track, lead to a pretty serious delay in the bigger race classes, which were taking place later in the afternoon.
For TEAM TANOM RACING, this was a little bit of a new perspective on their racing program. Over the last year, TANOM Racing has been working hard to make their two top vehicles in their fleet, the Trophy Truck #90 and the Class 1 Dominator, as desert worthy as possible, which for this team means making it solid, and perhaps a little on the heavy side in order for them to work better in the woops and the harsher desert. Neither is small by any means, and both run on BFGoodrich 39 inch BAJA Projects tires. Now placing either of these Desert beasts on a short course track, is not very easily imaginable! However, at the last minute, this is what the team decided to do, with the only changes being running 37 inch tires on both cars. It would definitely be a new experience for the cars… And for Sandy Hall, who has limited experience in short course racing, and is getting very comfortable in both the race cars, however, this would for sure be different.
The Class 1 and the Trophy Truck races were scheduled back to back, as the last two races of the event, and as Sandy was planned to drive the TT#90 and Andrea Tomba the Dominator in Class 1, the team decided to enter both vehicles. However, Andrea got injured a week before the race and was unable to drive, so Sandy now had to deal with the feat of driving both cars, back to back. For most people, a 10 lap short course must seem like child play compared to over ten hours straight behind the wheel like in a Baja 1000, however for those of you that have actually sat in a short course race truck amongst a bunch of other race trucks all giving it their 110% for 100% of the 10 laps, it is an insanely intense and exhausting experience. To do two races back to back, no rest… is pretty demanding.
Five Trophy Trucks lined up for the start flag, and as the engines roared, Eduardo Morales jumped ahead at the start in the much lighter Trophy Truck, however Sandy pushed through the crowd and quickly settled behind him. The two cars quickly established a significant gap from the rest, and the TT90’s incredible suspension and motor would push the weight riding Eduardo’s rear fender through the huge holes and every lap it would seem sa though Sandy was just able to get ahead. However, Sandy didn’t want to take any chances t damaging the truck and was waiting for Eduardo t make a mistake… even a small one in order to jump ahead, in what became an absolute crowd cheering feast for the ten laps as the two fought nail and tooth… However, Eduardo Morales drove a perfect race and kept the lead from start to finish, with Sandy receiving the checkered flag in a very close second place.
As soon as Sandy finished, the TANOM crew were waiting to pick up the Trophy Truck, and already had the Dominator ready for Sandy to jump in that, still taking in everything from the last race, helmet still full of mud, as he quickly got strapped in to the Class 1 as they were now fighting daylight. The two rows with seven Class 1 cars definitely made the track look small… Raoul Castilla leaped out in front at the start with an impressive pace, and the Dominator was a little slow out of the gate and settled in 5th place in the first corner, however was on the attack as they got into the rougher parts of the track and the Dominator came into its own. Just before the last corner, Nacho Ojeda’s car hit one of the holes hard, and the car went off the track, and came back in over a huge rut catapulting it in the air, landing into the co-driver side of the Dominator that Sandy was mostly able to avoid, as the rear fender landed on the Pio’s side cross bar, and taking out most of the fuel nozzle. As they continued into the second lap, Sandy & the Dominator were in third place and were just getting settled in a good pace, however as Nacho’s car caught fire, the race was stopped in order to insure the safety of the occupants. The cars were lined up in their position waiting for a restart, however due to the delay in getting the track, and that not all race cars had the benefit of the excellent Vision X lighting supplied with just two HIDs, the rest of the race had to be cancelled as night fell upon the track, and points were awarded as per their finishing position.
A lot of excitement, a lot of great racing, a fantastic spectator event and a new experience for two cars for sure. Although only ten laps, short course racing is really punishing for these cars, so happy with two podium finishes, the team quickly got back to start getting ready for the next challenge: The Dos Mares 500!