Cinco De Baja 2012

Admittedly I don't know much about the 4WD desert racing scene. It's a different beast than rally in that suspension travel can be measured in feet, not inches. The vast amount of classes keep trucks on stock leaf springs racing on the same loop as tube frame buggies. The power plants range from aircooled Volkswagen four cylinders up to American LS muscle. At this year's Cinco De Baja 46 teams battled in their respective class for points in the Ultra4 Western Regional Series.

Mixed classes means mixed traffic, and the course was really only a suggested line.

This is the toughest type of racing in the world as it balances stamina with speed on a constantly changing surface that rarely aids with traction. The terrain on the outskirts of Albuquerque, NM ranges from hard packed mud to soft deep sand, and as you can see the trails are only wide enough for one.

The sheer acceleration possible by these machines in the dirt is astounding. 

Going off course isn't a big deal in desert racing. Here you can see the co-driver looking at where the course is as the driver carves his own path.

Long suspension travel and softly valved struts lack high speed stability, but that doesn't deter drivers from going flat out.

As you can see some of the production-based trucks barely had any stock parts on them.

Results haven't been posted yet, but speaking from a spectator's point of view that doesn't really matter. The experience of having one of these machines pass mere feet in front of you at a high rate of speed with a huge dust trail  is what we enjoyed. Other fans were doing the NASCAR thing with light beer, no t-shirts, and too much enthusiasm. That's not us passing judgement, just observing. Last time I checked this is America and we bleed red, white, and blue, so naturally we had a good time. 

More photos to come throughout the week.