Actually, we wanted to splash Milagros at the end of September. But we have lost the race against time. It’s already October and we are sanding the paint off the hull for the second time, the mast is still laying next to Milagros and we still don’t have any water tanks yet. However, there is nothing to worry about. A boat refit either costs twice as much as planned, takes twice as long, or both. With us, the latter seems to be the truth. Sometimes we have more important things than refitting to do, too. For example, desert racing in the desert for an entire day.
It’s kind of weird right now. We are working on so many projects at the same time that sometimes we don’t even know where our heads are. But at the same time, for some reason, there is a glimmer on the horizon, a very small light at the end of the tunnel. Somehow, it feels like we’re wrapping up the work on Milagros. Why do we have this feeling? We cannot explain that exactly ourselves. But it sure feels good!
Return of the cruisers
The Cabrales Boatyard is slowly but surely filling with life again. You can tell that the cruising season in the Sea of Cortez is about to begin. The sailors come back to their boats after the summer break and wake them up from their sleep in the desert dust. Not so Milagros and her crew. We spent the whole summer in Puerto Peñasco. Not a day has passed since the beginning of the year without at least a little bit of work on Milagros. With the exception of our awesome trip to the desert, maybe.
So, it’s time that we take a day off again and do something other than grinding, screwing, tinkering, repairing. Do you remember our afternoon of desert racing with Leonel from the workshop nearby? If so, you are a regular reader, if not, it might be time to subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll always up to date! There will be no spam, no advertising, just a weekly heads up when we upload a new blog post!
A kind reminder
Since Leonel lives right around the corner and we are on his way to work, he stops by on a regular basis, to say hello and have a little chat. On our excursion with his desert racing car, he told us that a desert race was coming up. Standing at the fence of the boatyard one evening, he reminds us. That weekend the desert race would be on, we were gladly invited to the festivities.
Unsuspecting, we went back to work on the boat on Friday evening when Leonel stopped by again. This for a small, but relatively short-term reminder that the desert race from Sonoyta on the border with the USA to Puerto Peñasco would take place tomorrow Saturday. Meeting at 6 a.m. at the workshop. A little taken by surprise, we agreed. After all, we didn’t want to miss out on the action.
Meeting at 6 in the morning
Leonel had assembled a whole team for the race. First official act – put a ton of beer on ice and crack one open right away. The breakfast of champions. Leonel’s racing car was already packed and loaded onto the truck. No time was lost and our convoy started moving towards Sonoyta. After about an hour’s drive through the desert to the north, we arrived at the meeting point. What we didn’t know back then – a special experience was already planned for Pati.
A nice surprise
We had hardly arrived, when Leonel handed her a racing suit and a helmet. “You’re coming with us!” he said. You should have seen Pati’s puzzled face. She had no choice. A short time later she was seated in the racing car, seat belts on, her life in the hands of Leonel and his co-pilot and navigator. I stayed with the assistants. It was explained to me that we were responsible for being at one of the various pitstops along the route so that the crew could be changed and the desert race car could be refueled and checked.
The Tecate Light theory
But our main task seemed to be to drink as much Tecate Light as possible while doing this. The tactic of the Mexicans: If you start out with the blue Tecate Light, you can go all day. You cannot with the Tecate Original. Interesting theory, now I could test it out myself. Very healthy too, since it is well known that you should hydrate when it’s hot outside. Before we headed to the pitstop, we treated ourselves to a load of tacos at a small stand in town. You can’t go wrong with tacos here in Mexico, we are yet to find a place where they are not delicious.
Desert Pit Stop Experience
Arriving at the pitstop, it quickly became apparent that the dune racers take their sport seriously. The first racing cars darted into their pitstop areas as soon as we had arrived. The teams took immediate care of pilot, co-pilot and vehicle. Little repairs, refuel, drinking and a close inspection of the whole buggy. Was there any damage to be seen? Everything was done as quick as possible. Onward! No time to waste! Some desert racing cars did not even and simply blasted through the stopping area, most likely heading to another pitstop along the route.
Where the hell are they?
Pati, Leonel and the navigator were a long time coming. When almost all the other dune buggies had thundered past, suddenly there was movement. The team prepared for the arrival of the tiny, bright yellow truck. All of a sudden, there they were. Charging through the sand, Leonel’s buggy, followed by a cloud of dust! What took them so long?
Ready for action
When the car stopped, responsible for the fire extinguisher, I helped refueling the truck. Promptly, a mishap! Something went wrong with the ventilation of one of the fuel dump cans, suddenly the gasoline gushed in the wrong direction back from the tank all over the engine. A fire hazard! No problem here in Mexico, just tip a few water bottles over the engine and the problem was solved. The wild desert racing ride continued with a new crew, and I was able to welcome a sweaty and exhausted Patricia to the pitstop.
Pati is a desert racer
She told how the three of them had hill climbed, up and down throught the desert rocks nooks and crannies. Pure desert racing fun. Not without a small accident, because Leonel briefly lost control and the desert buggy had landed in a tiny creek bed through bushes, shrubs and cacti. From there, the racing car had to be brought back onto the track with the help of spectators. Of course, that took a lot of time and explained their delay.
Easy come, easy go
When the small pit lane was cleared again, the search for Leonel’s race car began. We drove along the route and as soon as we had located the yellow speedster, we stayed close. Since the route was rather flat in contrast to the first half of the race, the desert lemon raced with supersonic speed. Very impressive to look at. However, the joy was short-lived. Because the car broke down twice on its way towards the finish line. One time the battery was not behaving as planned, but the problem could be fixed. With the second breakdown the desert race was over.
Desert racing community
Shortly before finishing the race, Leonel’s baby stopped for good. With united forces and with the kind help of other desert pilots we pushed the desert buggy over the finish line. Collective exhaustion turned into exhilaration. In the desert racing, it is not the victory that counts, but that the crew and the car make it to the finish at all. Everything is demanded of man and material. After the crew was initially reluctant, Pati still got the obligatory beer shower.
The award ceremony
Afterwards we were also invited to the award ceremony. It took place in a bar and no expense or effort was spared. A stage was set up and it felt like every single driver received a prize of some somer. It should be emphasized that a 15-year-old American girl who had completed the entire desert race in her buggy with broken brakes was asked to take the stage. Respect! After nachos and a few more beers, Leonel took us back to the boat, where we fell into a deep, well-deserved sleep. What a day. Once again, that was an experience that we would never made if we had just stayed at home…
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