The 2016 Baja 1000 may still be days away, but the action on the peninsula is in full force. Prerunning has been open for a couple weeks now and it is now or never for teams to get all the notes they will need before they head out on race day.
We have all heard of the term prerun, but what does it really mean. The term is really broken up into a couple different parts prerunner and prerunning. They may both sound the same, but mean completely two different things while being related.
The team gathering to fuel up and make sure everything was ok on both prerunners. The prerunners would meet up with the chase truck after doing predetermined parts of the course.
Being in Baja with Terrible Herbst Motorsports is like being a rockstar on the peninsula. The team has been racing in Baja for over 20 years and everyone knows who they are. More importantly, we have been able to take in all that goes into racing the Baja 1000 on a high caliber Trophy Truck team.
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The team will have a total of four trucks running the race which takes place on Friday, November 18th. While the race day comes and everyone leaves from the same starting position it is the preparation that goes into the race before hand that matters.
What is What?
Prerunning is the term used to run the course that the race will take place on before the start of the race. Some races and organizations will allow prerunning while some do not. The Baja 1000’s prerunning opens around four weeks before the start of the race.
“The drivers will do their section of the course three times,” Todd Gorsuch explained. “This allows the drivers and co-drivers to work on selecting the best possible line and the ability to try different things.”
Being out in the middle of nowhere some of the only ways to know a vehicle is coming is either by the sound of its motor or the dust cloud closing in.
A prerunner is the vehicle used by race teams to run the course, simply put a prerunner is what is used during prerunning. The vehicle can be anything from the actual race vehicle to stock vehicle.
The closer this vehicle can be to the car that will be run on race day the better. This allows the driver to replicate everything on race day that he was able to drive prerunning. For Terrible Herbst Motorsports, it is one of three prerunners that were built in 1994 for each of the three Herbst brothers: Ed, Tim, and Troy.
Things do not always go as planned. Tim Herbst got a little too close to tree prerunning the course. The vehicle still runs, but it's missing a couple pieces.
These trucks have front I-beams, massive King shocks, and replicate the race truck as close as they can get. “These trucks perform similar to the race truck,” Todd said. “On race day they will go approximately 25 percent faster than they are running them prerunning.”
The section of the course that we followed while we were with them ranged from Ojos Negros to San Felipe. This year’s course has plenty of high-speed action on the East side of the peninsula. Even for a team that has been racing in Baja for over 20 years, prerunning is just as important as the first time down.
The prerunners parting ways after getting topped off with fuel taking the highway to the next section of the course.
When To Prerun
From sun up to sundown prerunning can take place. For some drivers prerunning the course during the day will be the only time they see it with the sun out. The majority of the Trophy Truck class race will be in the dark Baja nights.
Having the ability to see the course and taking the right notes will help when it is dark. It allows the driver to know where to go without being able to see where to go. The driver will be able to keep his speed up and ultimately get to the finish line faster.
Regardless of when you prerun it is about making sure there are notes being taken and the driver is getting familiar with the course. Whether you have been on a particular section countless times before, it is important to make sure to do it again.
With hitting the same section of the course so many times it gives the driver and navigator ample time to get everything they need. One time on the course may not be enough and obstacles or hazards may be missed.
Things need to be looked at behind the glitz and glam of prerunning. There are a couple different things that need to be taken into consideration when diving into prerunning.
If you thought having to stop at a gas station on a road trip was rough, you should see it in a prerunner. After every section depending on length the trucks would be splashed with fuel from the chase truck or head to the gas station to fill up.
If you race off-road and have the opportunity to prerun, it is a must. It also is not the cheapest. “It costs about $500 in fuel per day per truck,” Todd explained. “Every time you go out you are looking at fueling each of our prerunners and chase truck with its in-bed fuel tank. It can add up quickly.”
When deciding on getting a prerunner the choices are endless. From a four-seater buggy to a $750,000 luxury prerunner is available to fit your needs and budget. Whatever is decided on make sure that it will handle the abuse you are going to give it. These vehicles will see more miles than the actual race truck.
Coming up with a good plan of attack will help the day go smoothly. Sometimes you cannot account for a broken part that will extend your time into the dirt.
Even above the notes, the work, and time that goes into prerunning it is about being able to see Baja. Having the ability to stop and check out everything that is down in Baja and spend time enjoying it with your team.
Be sure to check back as we bring you more from Baja and for more pictures from prerunning with Terrible Herbst Motorsports check out the gallery below.