We’re in a strip joint in Tijuana. This wasn’t part of the plan. One moment, I was flaked out in the back of a van fresh off a long-haul flight; the next, I have a Corona in my hand, an equally shell-shocked photographer at my side, and close-quarters writhing is happening, lit red and bouncing to a deep beat. A man with a cruel face squares up to me. “What ju here for? You want woman? We’ve got l-o-t-s of womaaan.” He drags the syllables out.
“Um. No thank you, not at the moment.” “Ju here for the Ba-ha, right? I got gurrrls from aaall over Meh-hee-co. Everyone here for the Ba-ha. Gurrrls here for Ba-ha.” The Baja 1000 is legendary. Not because - ahem - related service industries expand to meet demand while the race is on, but because this is the world’s longest and most gruelling non-stop off-road race, a southbound blast down the finger of land that marks much of Mexico’s Pacific coast. It’s the biggest sporting event in the country, with an estimated 1.5 million spectators lining this year’s 1,121.55-mile route. And it’s not even held on a weekend. Perhaps a national holiday has been declared.
Pics: Justin Leighton
This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine