Trophy Trucks: the ultimate desert racers
What does it take to drive one at 140mph? Tom Ford finds out…
Posted: 02 Oct 2013
Strange, because today began with childish joy. For years, I've watched Trophy Trucks lay waste to off-road racing events like the Baja 1000 and myriad other races, and I've always wanted to drive one. But I'd need to drive a proper unlimited truck, rather than one of the more benign formulae, because, if something's worth doing, it's worth doing from the standpoint of the dangerously inexperienced. Equally obviously, if you're going to learn a new skill, you might as well turn to the best.
So, a few months ago, I contacted ‘Ballistic' BJ Baldwin, four-time off-road racing champion, boss of hundreds of other dirt-based proceedings and partner to Robby Gordon in the 2008 Dakar (1st in class, 7th overall). He's been off-road racing for 20 years, which means he's probably pretty good. He's also got one of the meanest Trophy Trucks in existence. Bonus.
Fast-forward a few months, and we arrive at the Baldwin Motorsports facility in the Las Vegas suburbs. I'm fizzing with glee and trying to keep a straight face. Because dancing around like a dangerously caffeinated toddler when you're supposed to be a professional is not cool. We meet BJ, and he's one of those insanely laconic people who take everything in their stride, for whom ‘extreme' is a tagline, rather than a definition. He's also tall, sportsman-built, softly spoken and instantly likeable, in that weird way that beautifully crazy people sometimes are.