Murray Racing: 2015 Baja 500 Race Report June 11, 2015
Murray Racing always gets excited about racing the Baja 500 and especially this year because we were taking our new Can Am Maverick Turbo out for just its second race. We brought it out at the Silver State 300 a month ago when it ran flawlessly except for several wheel issues that had never happened before with our ITP wheels. We tried running a different wheel that didn’t hold up so we’ve switched back to the one we’ve used for years.
Wednesday: We set out from our new race shop in Anaheim with the usual crew of Jason & Derek Murray, Bill Kugel, Monty Aldrich, Bob Jones and Aaron Juarez. We had expected a couple more guys but they failed to show up despite saying for a month they would be there. So just 6 people to race/chase for over 500 mile in Baja……Yikes! Oh well, we knew it would just add another dimension to the race and provide even less sleep which is skimpy at best. Heading south in I-5 we made the usual stops along the way for parts, food, drinks and other stuff. We got over the border and stopped in Puerto Nuevo for a great Lobster dinner. Later that evening we pulled into our rented house in La Bufadora which is about 30 minutes south of Ensenada. We off loaded and prepared for pre-running tomorrow.
I slept maybe 2 hours that night because I was worried about the logistics of the race with only 6 people. Logistics, pits stop locations, chase vehicles tools/parts, job assignments and race strategy are my usual jobs at each race. Two guys in the race car and two in each of our chase vehicles and not a body to spare anywhere….hmmm!
I also realized that I was going to have to fill in as navigator to replace one of our guys who didn’t show up. I love navigating but I didn’t have my race helmet. The Lord blessed me with a BIG head and none of the other helmets we bought were XXL. I hoped to buy one from Rugged Radio as I was due for a new helmet. No luck……they didn’t bring any down.
Thursday: In the morning we set out to pre-run using our “retired” Maverick 2 seater and Maverick Max 4 seater. Old race cars make the best pre-runners because they already suspensions, radios and GPS in them. Aaron also brought his 2015 Can Am Maverick down and we had him install some new ITP 15” Ultra Cross wheels/tires to see how they handled.
Jason and Monty took the Max 4 and headed to town to start his pre-run from the start line to RM110. Aaron and Bob followed them in case of a problem. Derek and I left the house and headed south to run the west coast route up to Ojos Negros. I drove down Hwy 1 to San Vincente and expected to turn the wheel over to Derek there. He surprised me by saying “no you drive and I’ll plot the dangers on GPS”. I had the time of my life driving the Mav 2 race car the next 120+ miles to Santa Tomas….but had to keep reminding myself to slow down because there was no one around to help us if I broke something or went off course. The weather was perfect and beach views were awesome!
A few hours later we arrived in Santa Tomas and refuelled. At the same time Justin Lambert and Justin Sheakly of Cognito Motorsports pulled up to the gas pump and after some chit-chat we all decided to have lunch together. All the race teams are made of great people who compete hard but are willing to help you out and/or share their comraderie. BTW: The tacos here were lousy compared to our favourite Taco Stand over in Valle de Trinidad.
We all left together but we let those guys lead out on the final leg to Ojos. Derek took the wheel for the final run to Ojos and he picked up the pace which was a blast especially through the forest and the final flat stretch to Ojos. All went well and I know Derek and I felt good about logging the danger spots in the section we would be racing on Saturday.
Friday: Contingency/Tech day is always fun but it takes too long…sometimes 8 or more hours. Bob Jones and I got up at 6am and drove the race Turbo downtown to get it in line and wait till Tech opens at 10am. We drove the race car easily in order to put a nice heat cycle on the clutch belt which is important for durability. Cory Sappington #1904 Can Am Turbo of Desert Toyz was already in line holding us a spot so we Can Am’ers could hang together. Cory’s team and Murray Racing always help each other out whenever we can. Go Can Am!
While in line we spoke with Johnny Angal #1921 RZR behind Cory. Johnny was the current SCORE point’s leader going into this race. Jason Murray came down later and he tried to tease Johnny about us giving him a run for the win….. More about that later. Once the line stated moving Murray Racing gave out a ton of “steekers” to the kids, water bottles, lanyards and signed a ton of autographs. The fans made anyone who was wearing a Murray shirt feel like rock stars!
Tech: Being we were racing a Turbo SCORE had acquired their own stock ECU in advance with the idea they would install it at tech inspection, but they didn’t have them when we pulled in. They called a few SCORE officials but no one seemed to have them so after much delay and waiting in the pits and conversation SCORE Techs finally got things worked out and we were now ready to race.
Everyone went back to the house for final prep of the 1917 Maverick Max and load the chase vehicles while I stayed to attend the drivers meeting. At the meeting everyone was warned that there were several speed traps and 67 virtual checkpoints on the course. Speeding and/or missing a checkpoint would result in being charged extra time penalties.
Later we all went out for a quick dinner then came back to the house to “double and triple check everything” as Derek likes to say. It pays off because we always find something that was loose or overlooked and we’ve not had a DNF in over 35 races with the Best In the Desert Series of races.
Saturday: Race Day came early but we felt pretty good physically and mentally. The Can Am Turbo Max #1917 was ready for Battle! Derek and I jumped in the Chase Van with pre-runner in tow and headed towards Mexicali some 3 hours away and RM 105 which would be the first pit stop. Bob and Aaron in Chase 2 and pre-runner in tow escorted Jason & Monty in the race car to the Start Line in downtown Ensenada. Chase 2 would then head south on Hwy 1 to wait till evening for the race car to arrive from Valle de Trinidad with Derek and I in it. A couple hours later or about 1pm the 1917 of Murray Racing was off the line……the Baja 500 was started.
Start Line to RM105: The 1917 Can Am Turbo of Murray Racing was the 2nd UTV off the line and Jason passed the lead UTV pretty early in the race. He built up a good lead when our other competitors got stuck in some kind of traffic jam further back. Our early lead didn’t last long because he had a wheel crack caused by a rock that wedged itself behind the rear brake calliper scraper and punctured the aluminium alloy wheel. By the time Monty got out and changed it the UTV’s of Angal, Cognito and a couple more passed us. Jason pressed hard to catch up but he rolled the car on its side in a silty turn that dropped us further back but fortunately they got the car on all 4 wheels again. They came into our pit at RM105 in 6th place for a new spare tire, visual inspection for rollover damage and fuel. Jason left quickly and headed southeast towards Laguna Salada and the notorious 40 miles of whoops.
RM 140 to 267: Derek and I watched them drive under the Hwy 2 over-cross at RM 140 and then we chased them south on Hwy 3 keeping in radio contact along the way toward the next pit stop at RM267. There is a mountain range between us and the race car now. Jason radioed that the whoops were brutally tough for the next 40 miles. He said he was watching some of our competition attack this section trying to pull away from him. He saw a lot of vehicles from different classes stopped on course after breaking something. Sure enough he passed several UTV’s who broke and we were again 2nd on course. Yes! Our Lone Star suspension and FOX Shocks were awesome!
Derek and I arrived at RM 267 in time but in the process of parking the van with pre-runner in tow we got stuck in the soft sand all the way up the rear differential. We finally got it unstuck after 40 minutes with the help of many locals helping to shovel, tug, push and sweat. Derek and I used a lot of energy we were trying to conserve because we knew we would be in the car for the next 7-8 hours.
As we were putting on our race suits, gloves, shoes, ear buds, finding waters and energy bars etc., we suddenly heard over the race radio “we’re out of gas at RM 255!” Derek and I looked at each other and thought…….WTH that is 12 miles back! There should have been plenty of gas to get to RM267 because it was topped off by someone not on our team at RM105 and he assured us he got it completely filled….but was it? At this exact moment the lead UTV of Matlock pulls in and he has significant suspension damage from all the whoops. I throw a dump can of gas in the front seat of the pre-runner and send Derek out to find the race car. It took a long time to find the car and refuel it, but no one had passed me in the pit so I figured there was carnage back in that whoop section. Finally, a UTV approaches but its 1932 of Jagged X and they have problems too. A few minutes later Derek and Jason show up in the race car. Where is Monty with the largest helmet? Jason says he is way back loading up the dump can and driving the pre-runner back. OMG! I had no choice now but to put on Jason’s helmet knowing it was too small, but we had to go as we were now in 4th place. Derek wasn’t happy either because we left without his catheter (pee tube), ear buds and no water or snacks for the long run to the finish 250 miles away. Regardless, we took off knowing we’d have to suck it up to stay up front of the pack.
RM267 to 360: Once we rolled away we got our act together and were clipping along at a good speed as I was getting adjusted to the GPS, various gauges and my helmet. Night fell upon us and we flipped on our Lazer Star lights which made it a breeze to see well into the night. We entered a couple different speed traps of 37 and 60 MPH so I was constantly telling him his speed to avoid speeding penalties. We get up to Valle T at RM 320 and pass two UTV’s while they are in their pits. We’re now 2nd again! The rest of the way across the mountain was painless except the helmet I was wearing started to feel like a vice. I tried to focus on my job of navigating but now I had a bad headache. As the miles passed I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to go to the finish some 150 miles away. It didn’t take much longer and I knew I’d have to get out because I wanted to take the helmet off NOW. I made the painful decision, reluctantly, to get out and turn the seat and helmet over. When I took the helmet off I had a hematoma the size of a silver dollar sticking out my forehead and it was bleeding some. I’ll never leave my helmet at home again!
RM 360 to 430: Derek wanted to push hard and run down the leader but in the fast section along the coast and cliffs he lost the brakes. He had to run a more conservative pace now until the next pit at RM 430 in Santa Tomas some 30-40 miles away. We had no radio contact with Derek until he came down the hill into Santa Tomas when he warned us he had no brakes. He diagnosed the problem from the car as being a loose banjo fitting on a rear calliper. It’s caused by a rock hitting the fitting and loosening it just slightly to allow brake fluid to leak out when braking. Once he stopped in the pit we quickly tightened the fitting and fuelled the 1917, but not fast enough as 1932 of Jagged X got by us again. So were now in 3rd but with 80 miles to go to the finish. Derek caught him before Ojos and we were back in 2nd with 60 miles to go.
RM 470 to 510 and the Finish Line: As the Chase Teams drove to the finish line all seemed to be going fine……………….until we got another radio call from Derek…… informing us he had another wheel crack and the 1932 got by us again. Nothing anyone could do now but hope Derek could run him down and make another pass. As usual we did not have a single “flat tire” with our ITP Ultra Cross, just an issue with rocks taking out the wheel itself.
We were now standing at the finish line with the Jagged X team….and a big crowd of fans still there at 2:30 am Sunday morning, staring at the final turn into the finish line. We heard a UTV coming but who is it? It was the 1932 but with Derek 2’ off his back bumper sliding around the turn for the final sprint of 50 yards to the finish. The crowd and the teams went crazy but that’s the way they finished. After some 510 miles to finish this close was awesome. To be truthful the 1932 finished a few minutes ahead on corrected time being he started several minutes after us Saturday afternoon.
Awards Ceremony: We had breakfast with Bill and Brandon Schueler of Jagged X. We both speculated that our teams probably got hit with some penalties so we headed to Awards to get the official results. The meeting was to start at noon but they kept everyone waiting till after 1pm. We figured lots of penalties and there would be some surprises announced. We were right! The 1st PLACE UTV award went to Matlock as we expected. 2nd PLACE went to the Murrays! 3rd place went to another team. Unfortunately, the 1932 of Jagged X came in 4th.
Championship Standings: The 1921 of Johnny Angal started the race as Points Leader but he did not finish this race as he succumbed to the whoops back near Laguna Salada. The Murrays are now #1 currently with the 1 throw out race option and we are pumped about it. The overall points total between us, Jagged X and Johnny Angal is tiny with two races to go….the Imperial Valley 250 in late September and the Baja 1000 in mid-November.
Maverick Grabs First-Ever Vegas to Reno Win for Can-Am
Team Murray Racing / Del Amo Motorsports / Yoshimura / Can-Am completed the 540 + mile course in 12:05:22.689 to earn its first class win of 2013!
The Longest Off-Road Race in the US, Won by a Can-Am Maverick SxS
In the rough-and-rocky Nevada desert, the Murray Racing / Del Amo Motorsports / Yoshimura / Can-Am team was sitting in second place in the UTV Pro class (1900 P) standings, 22 points behind the leader. However, after the dust settled, the Murray / Can-Am team had won its first BITD Vegas To Reno event.
"Winning this race was one of our biggest accomplishments due to the length of the race and that our Can-Am Maverick was awesome, with no performance issues. This was a fun race to win, as we were running within minutes of our main competitors for most of the entire race." said Derek Murray. "It's really cool that we could win with a stock engine along with stock differentials and CVs. To be the only UTV team in the race that beat all the 120- to130-mph trophy trucks to the finish line was a huge accomplishment, something that our team is very proud of."
The Maverick launched 1st from the starting line and just spread the gap from the competition, owning a 10-minute! advantage at just 100 miles. Things started to get dicey at the midway mark when 3 teams were battling for the lead, actually swapping leaders during the 380-415 mile sections! During the high-speed sections, the Can-Am Maverick dropped to third and it was a battle back and forth for over 200 miles. The Murray / Can-Am team regained the lead at mile 450 and never looked back, giving Can-Am its first BITD Win of 2013.
This long distance endurance race shows the reliability of the products used by the team.
Murray Motorsports would like to thank the wonderful support of our 2013 sponsors. They are truly the best option for your ATV/UTV needs. It takes the best products to get the best results! Can Am for building one of the best, most reliable and fast Side by Sides on the Market. ITP for producing the toughest tire on the market and rims to hold up the most grueling conditions. Yoshimura for awesome exhaust, and fuel management systems, Lone Star for suspension kits that gets abused to the limit and somehow they keep the team fast and get them to the finish line. Fox for shocks that make the rough desert seem smooth. Del Amo Motorsports for being a great sponsor and team mate. K&N for the best air filters available. Beard seating for the awesome newly designed seats that are so comfortable. Torco for the best lubricants that keep our drive train reliable. Lazer Star lighting for turning night into day. Dead Rabbit clothing for all the help with shirts, apparel, hats, and marketing material so the team can look good and represent the industry!
UTVunderground.com the best source of information in the industry, and amazing photos! And to our team who helps prep, and support us at each event, we could not do it without you.
Murray Racing Finishes BITD Silver State 300
On the Podium
May 8, 2013
In Las Vegas, NV on May 4, 2013, the 1917 Murray Racing Del Amo Motorsports Can-Am Maverick Team was excited to line up early at the Silver State 300. This race marks the halfway point of the extremely competitive 2013 BITD season. Coming off a 3rd place finish at the 2013 Mint 400, Murray Racing had set high goals for the Silver State 300. As the sun came up over the Nevada desert each competitor tore off one by one on the 300-mile epic adventure. Murray Racing was the third Pro UTV off the line.
We set a pretty good pace the first 100 miles. Our Maverick was humming! We had spent a significant amount of time the weeks prior dialing in our newly developed factory designed Lone Star Racing Long Travel Kit. The time spent paid off – our suspension worked flawlessly. At mile 150 we made a drivers change and continued on course. At this point the battle for position started to heat up. We had been running in the top five all day between second and fifth. As we neared the 160 mile marker, we noticed the brakes were starting to go out. We pulled off course at about mile 170 to evaluate the situation.
After bleeding the brakes a few times, we jumped back in the car and off we went. Bleeding the brakes helped a little; we maybe had 10% - 20% of our normal braking. We ended up having to bleed the brakes two or three times over the next 30 miles to keep things safe. As we came into the final pit, we saw Cognito pulling out about one-half mile ahead. Having started two positions ahead of us we knew that Cognito had to beat us by more than a minute on corrected time in order to take 3rd. With 50 miles left to race, virtually no brakes, and one-half mile to make up on a very fast Cognito race team we knew we had to push our Maverick in order to take over 3rd place. We wanted the physical 3rd place and so the chase was on! Turn after turn we slowly were getting closer to their dust cloud. With about 20 miles left in the race, we knew we were close enough to have them on corrected time. We decided to ride their dust to the finish line instead of making a potentially dangerous pass with poor brakes. For about 10 miles we followed them before the dust settled and we were able to pass when they encountered another mechanical issue and had to pull off. We finished the 2013 Silver State 300 with a 3rd place finish. Can-Am did a great job when they built the Maverick. We are the only team running in the top with a stock engine and clutch setup. This goes to show the true power of the Can-Am Maverick! Overall, we had one flat tire and brake issues resulting in a little over 15 minutes of down time. We were happy to finish on the podium. We look forward to the Baja 500 at the end of the month. This finish puts the 1917 Can-Am team in 2nd place overall halfway through the 2013 BITD season!
|Murray Motorsports would like to thank the wonderful support of our major sponsors. Can-Am for building one of the best, most reliable and fast Side-by-Sides on the Market. ITP for producing the toughest tire on the market and rims to hold up the most grueling conditions. Yoshimura for awesome exhaust, and fuel management systems, Lone Star for suspension kits that gets abused to the limit; somehow they keep the team fast and get them to the finish line. Fox for shocks that make the rough desert seem smooth. Del Amo Motorsports for being a great sponsor and team mate. AMR Racing for the best looking and most durable graphic kits in the industry. K&N for the best air filters available.
Beard seating for the awesome newly designed seats that are so comfortable. Torco for lubricants that keep our drive train reliable. LazerStar lighting for turning night into day. Dead Rabbit clothing for all the help with shirts, apparel, hats, and marketing materials so the team can look good and represent the industry! UTVunderground.com, the best source of information in the industry, and amazing photos! And to our team who helps prep, and support us at each event, we could not do it without you.
Murray Racing Debuts new Can Am Maverick in its First BITD Event
April 2, 2013
Las Vegas, NV, March 23, 2013, Murray Motorsports showed up to the Mint 400 in full Vegas fashion ready to race the newly built Can Am Maverick for its first Best In the Desert (BITD) event. The team set up Thursday for a fun filled evening on Freemont Street with the Yoshimura Factory rig as the base camp to display last years Mint 400 winning Can Am Commander, the new Can Am Maverick WORCS vehicle, in addition to the new 1917 Maverick to be raced in the 2013 Mint 400. Murray Motorsports set up again Friday, representing its brand and sponsors, while also unveiling its limited edition 2013 Mint 400 shirts, hats, cups, magnets, pens and the big hit---hand drawn posters being signed and handed out for free!
For the second time in the history of the famous Mint 400 Off-road Desert race, UTVs were invited to be a part of this prestigious event. The downtown Freemont experience was bigger and better than last year and hands down is the largest off-road race in the USA. There were just under 300 teams entered, consisting exclusively of Trick Trucks, trucks, Buggies, and UTVs, with a total of 26 UTV teams being one of the larger classes. Mad Media and Best in the Desert (BITD) teamed up to raise the bar in off-road racing at this event. Five days of festivities, events, and racing were held to bring the fans and racers closer together, and on race day the course filmed from ground and sky to capture the full essence of what desert racing is all about.
Early Saturday morning, the 1917 Murray Racing Can Am Maverick was lined up in the 4th position in class 1900, starting after nearly 70 buggies in other classes. This would make for a very dusty, and rough ride. When the light went green, two UTVs would leave the line every 30 seconds to race out into the desert. The Maverick started on the outside line being driven by Derek Murray, and pulled the hole shot and set out into the dusty dark desert. Very quickly the Maverick passed the 2nd place car on track, and moved up to first physically on course by mile 25. The Maverick was running so awesome, passing numerous vehicles in earlier classes. The course was extremely rough. Miles on end of 2-3 foot whoops, rock areas, and soft sand mixed with fine powder dust, and little wind, made for plenty of carnage. Many other class vehicles were scattering the course like sitting obstacles to dodge as the 1917 Maverick passed by.
At Pit A, about 45 miles in, the Maverick had a CV boot leak and needed to repair it, losing several positions and dropping to 6-8th place on the course. Once up and running, the team picked off competitors one at a time and by end of the first 100 mile lap, the team was sitting in 4th place physically. At main pit the team did a quick systems check, fuel, and driver change. Jason Murray took over the wheel to try and move up to the lead. At about 155 miles into the race the Murrays moved into 2nd, and began the hunt for the lead. Unfortunately, one small steering issue resulted in a 4-5 minute repair placed them in 3rd position on the course. The Murray Brothers pushed hard knowing that the team in 2nd was less than a mile ahead. The Maverick was driven to the max, hitting some impressive top speed numbers! When the dust settled it would end as close as it gets resulting in a 3rd place finish at the Mint 400 only 2 seconds short! The team is excited to hold a win and a 3rd place finish in the two years that the Mint has been raced with UTVs, and looks to get another win next year. The team was impressed with the agility, suspension, and power of the new Maverick at its first BITD race, and one of the most challenging in the USA! Look for a strong showing in the new 1917 Can Am for 2013!
Murray Motorsports would like to thank the wonderful support of our sponsors. Can Am for building one of the best, most reliable and fast Side by Sides on the Market. ITP for producing the toughest tire on the market and rims to hold up the most grueling conditions. Yoshimura for awesome exhaust and fuel management systems. Lone Star for suspension kits that gets abused to the limit and somehow they keep the team fast and get them to the finish line. Fox for shocks that make the rough desert seem smooth. Del Amo Motorsports for being a great sponsor and teammate. AMR Racing for the best looking and most durable graphic kits in the industry. K&N for the best air filters available. Beard seating for the awesome newly designed seats that are so comfortable. Torco for lubricants that keep our drive train reliable. LazerStar lighting for turning night into day. Dead Rabbit clothing for all the help with shirts, apparel, hats, and marketing material so the team can look good and represent the industry! UTVunderground.com the best source of information in the industry, and amazing photos! UTVGuide.net for being such a great industry resource! And to our team who helps prep, and support us at each event, we could not do it without you. BUILD-RACE-WIN
About the Team
Murray Racing began in 2009 when a passion for adventure and a need for competition took root with Jason and Derek Murray. The Brothers began fabricating their first full build UTV to enter into the BITD class 1900 race series. Their adventure started out with a 3rd place finish in their first desert race in the BITD series. Since then, Murray Racing has expanded with multiple cars competing in several different race series. The past two seasons have been very successful, resulting in numerous top 3 podium finishes. In addition, Murray Racing completed the 2010 and 2011 BITD season in 3rd place overall as a private team. The 2012 BITD season proved to be even more successful, with Murray Racing finishing in 2nd place overall. Murray Racing also boasts an impressive 20 consecutive BITD/SCORE finishing streak. Murray Racing is excited to announce that they'll be opening a new race shop which will offer full service fabrication and will produce top of the line Can Am Mavericks in 2013. The team is proud to have raised the bar in UTV racing by earning the full Factory support of BRP Can-Am for the 2013 season, and will be competing in BITD, SCORE, WORCS, King of the Hammers and Robby Gordon Stadium Series to provide maximum marketing exposure in all of the major racing series. Expect a much larger presence from Murray Racing at all race events in 2013!