The Baja 1000 is the toughest off-road race on the face of the planet and can be argued it is the toughest automotive race in the world. Racing this event can be a lifetime achievement and while most are just happy just finishing, there are drivers like Casey Currie who go out and have one thing on their mind – win.
Casey brought out an uncommon looking Trophy Truck, nicknamed Trophy Jeep, out to SEMA to qualify with the big boys. In the end, a class change would lead to him winning the 2017 SCORE Baja 1000 Hammer Truck Class.
There was plenty of other things going on at the shop when we stopped by.
Preparing For The 50th
Casey Currie's prerunner that he brought down to Baja to prepare for the race.
We wanted to find out more about the victory and the event from Casey’s eyes as we knew it was one hell of an accomplishment. “The Baja 1000 is incredible,” Casey said. “It all starts with preparing for the race. It is incredible to see how much manpower, hotel rooms, and vehicles are needed for a race like this. We used the BFG pit system which helped narrow down how many people we needed.”
Overall Casey’s team had 24 people, six chase trucks, and two trailers down in Baja on their team. This does not even account for the time spent prior to the race prerunning.
Racing 1,134 miles, better bring some spares.
“We spent two weeks down in Baja prerunning the course with two trucks and trailers, three Can-Ams, and a prerunner,” Casey explained. “Once we finished we brought everything back to the states and reloaded everything for the race. The logistics of preparing for the race takes a lot of work, in addition, to actually getting the race truck ready.”
On the Trophy Jeep, it was stripped down to a bare frame while the motor, transmission, and transfer case were all rebuilt. All new CVs, axles, third members, bolts, lights, tires, wheels, and hiems were put on. The wiring harness was also inspected to make sure that everything looked ready for race day.
Winning The Baja 1000
To finish first, you first have to finish. A long-standing racing motto that holds up even more in a race that is 1,134 miles through some of the harshest terrains in the world. All the preparation comes down to 48 hours.
“We started in the back of the Hammer Truck class after a last-minute change,” Casey explained. “It was a late change that between us, sponsors, and the sanctioning body. We just felt that it would be better to race Ultra4 especially with the Jeep body and it being the 50th anniversary.”
Built to handle anything in Baja.
“From the back, we became first on time within the first 50 miles,” Casey continued. “By race mile 200 we had picked everyone off and began an epic battle with Shannon Campbell until mile marker 500. Between his pit strategy and ours, it was going back and forth quite a bit.”
At race mile 600 Casey and the team ran into their first big issue, a wiring gremlin that would cost them an hour of downtime. Luckily, not too far after the Campbell’s had their own issue and Casey was able to set there own pace to the finish line.
“Other than the wiring gremlin we fixed we had no other issues,” Casey said. “We are just super blessed with the way we set the vehicle up. From the Currie front diff, Atlas transfer case, and Turbo 400 we have not broken anything drivetrain or four-wheel-drive.”
“Everyone going to Baja gets scared of the silt,” Casey continued. “For us, when you have 800 horsepower, four-wheel-drive, and 40-inch tires, it can almost be called cheating; we never got stuck.”
Having some of the best sponsors in the industry made the Trophy Jeep successful in the Baja dirt.
“Having four-wheel-drive in these Ultra4 cars really helps us go fast,” Casey said. “The back end of the vehicle is not fishtailing all over the place, and it helps us get through some of the more difficult obstacles.”
When you have 800 horsepower, four-wheel-drive, and 40-inch tires, it can almost be called cheating. – Casey Currie
One part that Casey mentioned he was not thrilled about was the hundreds of miles of whoops. The miles and miles of whoops beat on the vehicle and driver, but Casey was able to overcome it and bring the Jeep to the checkered flag.
“Winning the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000 was definitely on the bucket list,” Casey said. “Our goal was to race the 50th when we teamed up with Magpul to build the Jeep. Winning it was the icing on the cake.”
Family is big with the Curries and that followed the team down to Baja. Casey was not alone south of the border, he had his brother, dad, and uncle all there to support his efforts.
The class winner trophy (top), finisher medal (bottom left), and winning flag (bottom right) are just a small token compared to the memories and stories of the race.
“My brother and I shared driving duties during the race while we had our dad and uncle with us as our main support,” Casey said. “When they say it is all family, we really mean it is all our family.”
Winning is something Casey Currie is familiar with, these trophies prove it.
The 2017 off-road season may be over, but next year is right around the corner. Casey will be out at King of the Hammers racing a UTV, Legends, and 4500 as well as racing the Mint 400, Baja 500, Baja 1000, Crandon, and heading back across the pond for some European Ultra4 events.
The 2017 season is in the books, but it is time to get ready for big things in 2018.
We look forward to seeing what 2018 brings Casey, but we all know that it will be full of action and horsepower.