We left Cerritos around 4:30 and made it to Gonzaga Bay 13 hours later. After smashing the best meal of the trip we called it a night. The following day we took our time getting going enjoying the final hours on the only island you can drive to. The Baja Peninsula didn’t disappoint and the stories and experiences we had would now haunt our thoughts until we returned. At the boarder of Mexicali we had our only mishap of the trip a quick shakedown by the local PD. We gladly donated the last of our Pesos and US dollars to them if they’d show us how the hell to get into the border line for the USA.

11 days earlier I picked my brother in law Alex up in San Clemente. We had been bullshitting about driving Baja since we met. I’d been working on some graphic t-shirts and hats to re-launch my brand Favorite Pastime; the stand out designs have the O.G. Baja smasher the Myers Manx. So when Alex sent me a Slow Baja podcast the day after I had dreamt I would re-launch the the brand in Baja we started figuring out how we should do it. Launch the brand, tell some stories, sell some hats & t-shirts, recon the peninsula for future surf travel . That was the goal.

I have been interested in off-road racing for a long time so when I found out that Norra had a Safari Class it sounded like a perfect introduction to Baja and off-road racing. A safer, slower class that offers an opportunity to meander the Baja Divide trail and other nooks and crannies only seen by the brave or more seasoned Baja traveler. It also happened to start on April 26, 2024 so we could make it if our wive’s o.k’ed it. I planted the brand re-launch strategy into my wife’s head and she was down. She then planted the idea into her sisters head (who is Alex’s wife) and she wasn’t as down but ok’d the adventure reluctantly. After a bit of back and forth Alex and I decided that if we didn’t take this adventure now it may never happen again so we signed up with 15 days until the beginning of the race.

We composed a series of check-lists allocating our responsibilities and things that needed to get done before we left. I was going to drive my trusty 2009 Dodge Ram so I made sure everything was topped off, tightened, and in working order to get us there and back. GPS routes loaded, FMM tourist visas, Baja Bound Insurance, Passports, clothes, after race adventure gear, surfboards, snorkel, tents. Everything we needed nothing we didn’t.

Ready for the drive of a life-time we heeded a distress call that I saw on instagram. A fellow race participant Alex Ritz needed some parts picked up for his XR650R in Oceanside. I had heard that in Baja you help whenever you can so I figured this act couldn’t hurt our karma score as we headed south. We swooped the parts for the fellow racer / stranger and headed for the border. We made it to Tijuana in an hour and as we passed into the country we knew we needed to get our FMM processed. Alex stuck his head out and asked one of the boarder agents if we could park right off to the side while we went into the FMM office. The agent smiled widely and said “sure, park right here.” He then came right to my window and ordered me out of the car, and to open up the back. We had volunteered to be searched. With nothing to hide it wasn’t that bad of a process but we learned to just keep our mouth shut and keep driving at the boarder. I think the boarder agent just wanted to check out the truck because after we told him we didn’t have any guns and that we were driving in the Mexican 1000 he was more interested in that than anything else. He told us where to park to get our FMM filled out and sent us on our way.

We sat around in the FMM office waiting for the customs people to reprint our $700 pesos receipt despite having a printed copy in hand. It was a reminder to smile and nod and slow down. We were in Mexico and who gives a shit. Finally after about 45minutes of sitting, and standing, we met a guy who gave gringos guided tours of Rosorito. Noticing our standing and sitting routine he was interested to know why we had been hanging out so long? We had no idea; so he investigated and told the boarder guys we were his cousin or some bullshit. It worked, we finally had our passports stamped FMM’s dialed and were for sure going to be late to the mandatory drivers meeting at 12:30.

Walking to the drivers meeting I spotted our new moto race homie we had the part for. He was stoked. Good karma vibes were flowing. We strolled in to the last 3 minutes of the drivers meeting. I immediately took note that a lot of these Safari Class guys looked awfully serious, like they were going to be numbro uno in the non-race class. After the official meeting ended we went up and introduced ourselves and admitted we had missed the meeting. Natalie who worked for Norra and was sweeping for our class rolled her eyes and stamped us as “the one’s or those guys” and from the tone and inflection not the people to be at the race. She was just breaking our balls and filled us in on what we needed to know, where to register and how to get dialed in.

We headed to registration, got our S46 stickers, case of beers, t-shirts, and were told to head to pre-race inspection. I thought we had done our homework and were ready to go but we hadn’t and we weren’t ready at all. Our Stella satellite navigation system wasn’t installed, our “radioshack radios” were garbage and not going to work, and we had been given another nick name “Richard Cranium”. We didn’t care though. We were having a great time, a little confused, with a beer in hand.


The Mexican 1000 was a full go tomorrow and we were in it. “ The Happiest Race On Earth”

Mat Crossan
Mat Crossan