Blizzard Baja By– Joe Loftus

     Earlier this month, I went on a trip to Northern Michigan with the Saluki Baja team to compete in a snowy off-road race with other college Baja teams. The trip proved not only to help our team measure up our Baja car in comparison with others, but it also allowed us to grow as a team by better getting to know one another.
     The trip started with a twelve-hour drive up North. While en-route, it was important to engage others in meaningful conversation. We stopped in Edwardsville, Illinois, to drop off our Baja car with SIUE’s Baja team. Before the trip, our Baja team made a deal with SIUE’s Baja team–they would drive our Baja in their trailer and we would let them stay the night in the house we rented in Michigan. This deal allowed us to network with mechanical engineering students from another school while also saving us the cost of renting a truck and trailer from SIUC to transport our Baja car.

     After arriving in Michigan and spending the night at the rental house, our team had a full day to unwind from the long road trip before racing the next morning. We decided to spend that time at a local ski resort. Skiing with the Baja team proved to be exciting for all, though a little frustrating for a few others who had little to no skiing experience. All members returned from the skiing event tired and ready to go to bed.                                                                                                     The next morning, we arrived at the race track to unpack our Baja car and prepare it for inspection. Along with 40 other Baja teams there, inspection took a little longer than expected. After waiting for our inspection, we prepared for the four hour endurance race that lay ahead of us. As one of the newer members, I was to run the first leg of the race, and switch out about 30 minutes in. One thing that I learned in the LDP was how to effectively ready the team; I used this for driver changes during the race. The snow-covered course was somewhat difficult to traverse as other drivers where constantly getting stuck in the snow at various points along the track. At the end of the race though, chilled to the bone, all teams ventured inside to the awards ceremony. SIU’s Baja team did well, placing 16th out of 47.