By Kate Moore @kitmoore
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Videographer / director: Lawrence Dvorak
Producer: Kate Moore
Editor: Ian Phillips
A determined group of friends brought their skills together to transform an old-school Volkswagen Beetle, named Tope, in order to be competitive in one of the world’s most ruthless races.
The Baja 1000 is a Mexican desert race which takes place annually in the Baja California Peninsula.
It’s the longest point to point off-road race in the world, that's run in a single day.
Josh McGuckin, one of the car’s mechanics, explained how much of a challenge preparing for the race was for the team.
He told Barcroft TV: “Driving this car in the Baja 1000 can be summed up for me in one word, exhausting.
“You're out the middle of nowhere and there's a constant barrage of input and stimulus."
To an outsider, the car would appear as just a “really old bugg” but once inside, “suddenly it just comes to life, it’s just incredible”, Josh said.
The project began because the group “really liked a challenge”.
Starting with the VW Beetle was a huge undertaking for the team, as they had to modify the classic 1970 car to be suitable for the incredibly harsh conditions.
They extensively modified the bugg, throwing in a new roll cage, tyres and an auxiliary oil cooler to get it ready for the challenge ahead.
However, the extreme nature of this race did take its toll on the well-loved vehicle, with Josh explaining: “Every time you come back from a race, you’re constantly rebuilding and replacing everything, so it's really just throwing money out the window."
But it's not just about the machinery.
In a race where many vehicles don't go the distance, there's a whole crew behind the scenes trying to ensure they have a hope of just completing the course.
To show appreciation for everyone’s hard work, the team added the names of all their members to the top of the car.
Josh continued: “I love driving this thing, it's amazing.”
And the teamwork paid off, as Tope triumphantly reached the finish line.
Josh spoke about his relief and elation, reflecting on the journey the determined group of friends have been on.
“Every time we race this car, we learn something new.
“The next step for this thing is to continue to develop and make it better so that we can race it again in the 2020 Baja 1000.”