Competing in the Baja 1000 in Mexico was a dream come true for Langley driver Jason Vandenborn, with wife and navigator Kendall Ballantine.

Competing in the Baja 1000 in Mexico was a dream come true for Langley driver Jason Vandenborn, with wife and navigator Kendall Ballantine.

Baja 1000 road trip to remember for Langley couple

Competing in 50-year-old race driver’s dream since he was in elementary school

A cloak of darkness smothered the outside world, as Langley couple Jason Vandenborn and Kendall Ballantine sped their truck through the desert in the dead of a foggy night along the southwest coast of Mexico.

The couple was competing in the taxing Baja 1000, the largest off-road race in the world with 405 teams and more than 3,000 drivers competing in various classes.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the a race that covered 1,134 miles along the Baja Penisula from Ensenada (40 miles south of Tijuana) to La Paz.

Vandenborn drove and Ballantine, navigated; they completed the ‘Ironman’ and not once switched seats from driver to navigator.

“It’s uncommon to see races this long run the ‘Ironman’, as most teams have up to five drivers and five co-drivers,” Ballantine said.

Of the 413 entries overall, the couple figures they were among four that completed the ‘Ironman.’ They raced for 45 hours, 49 minutes with only a pair of 10-minute rest/sleep breaks mixed in, where they leaned their heads on the dash and steering wheel of the truck, respectively.

They finished first in their class, their speeds ranging from 18 mph to 70 mph, depending on the terrain.

“We started Thursday (Nov. 16) at about two o’clock in the afternoon, and then we raced Thursday night, all of Friday, Friday night, and Saturday morning (Nov. 18),” Vandenborn said. “We ended up crossing the finish line about noon.”

Ballantine, who was was one of only 63 females taking part among the 3,000-plus racers, used GPS and a satellite tracking systems that put the truck in the right direction.

Competing in this race was at the top of Vandenborn’s bucket list and, Ballantine said, “was a total dream-come-true for him to not only get to compete but to win our class.”

The couple used a Protruck, a tube chassis machine equipped with a nearly 700 hp engine.

“It’s specifically built right from the ground up just for desert racing,” Vandenborn said.

Competing in the Baja 1000 was a dream of Vandenborn’s since he was in Grade 4.

“It took me all the way until I was 43 years old to be able to afford to do this,” Vandenborn said.

During the race, the Protruck burned through roughly 300 gallons of fuel. Two other groups of people chased the truck down the Baja Peninsula to provide fuel when necessary.

“They were on the freeway, and we also get sponsored by a company called Mag 7, and they’re a pit crew service, so they do fuel stops every 60 miles along the race course,” Vandenborn said.

Another challenge came when nature called.

“I found that I was so dehydrated throughout the whole thing that I only had to stop at one pit and go to the washroom,” Ballantine shared.

“The truck usually runs about 30 degrees (Farenheit) than it is outside,” Vandenborn added. “So if you’re 80 degrees outside, we’re at 110 or 100 degrees inside the truck, so we were constantly sweating. By the end of the race, after those 45 hours we were both so dehydrated, pee breaks were at a minimal.”

As for driving in a shroud of darkness, Vandenborn said it was a “whole new world.”

“The thing about a Protruck is there is so much lighting on it,” he noted. “You have seven massive lights on the roof and four massive lights along the front grill, but it was different. The part of the Baja Peninsula that we went over for the Thursday night and Friday night, it was super foggy and there was a little bit of rain so you could only see 30 or 40 feet ahead of you. Also, all the dust on the vehicle turned into mud.”

And while finishing the race was immensely satisfying, Vandenborn said driving off-road for nearly three days non-stop was the “hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”

There were 130 miles of freeway making for a smooth drive on that portion, but much of the race was off-road, on rock, and on ‘whoops’ which were four-foot undulating bumps about six feet apart.

“I think it took us about seven hours just to go over that area,” Vandenborn said.

The couple had drag raced and street rodded before but Vandenborn said there is something about desert racing that appeals to them.

“When you’re with your wife, there’s no point in starting a conflict because you are stuck with each other until the end of the race,” Vandenborn said. “We’d get stuck quite a bit; we got stuck about four times where we’d have to dig it (the truck) out and you just know that you have to get that thing out. There’s nobody that can bring another vehicle in to pull you out. If your race vehicle can’t make it through it, there’s no way any of your chase vehicles will make it through it.”



troy.landreville@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Kendall Ballantine and husband Jason Vandenborn celebrated after completing the 50th edition of the Baja 1000 last month.                                Photo submitted

Kendall Ballantine and husband Jason Vandenborn celebrated after completing the 50th edition of the Baja 1000 last month. Photo submitted

Just Posted

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

Most Read