Local men finish 32nd in Baja 1000 race

Team C.O.R.E.'s 12X motorcycle tore through the Mexican desert last week for 30 uninterrupted hours, covering 1,296 miles at speeds in excess of 90 mph.

The fruit of the team's labor: a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motorcycle Class of the longest point-to-point race in the world, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. The six-rider team, which included two local men, finished 32nd overall out of almost 450 teams, with an official time of 30 hours, 6 minutes and 1 second.

"To have run in our very competitive class and to have done as well as we did was beyond our wildest imagination," said Randy Jones of Medford, a team member and helicopter pilot for Team C.O.R.E. While planning the race over the last year, the team's goal was simply to finish the race, so placing amongst the elite in the racing community was a massive achievement.

Just before noon on Nov. 14, team C.O.R.E.'s Honda 450 crossed the finish line ahead of many factory-sponsored teams and all but two of the multi-million dollar "Trophy Trucks."

"It truly was a team effort, everything went smoothly, considering," said Don Hildebrand, a chaplain at Rogue Valley Manor who was the backup rider for Team C.O.R.E.

"When the bike came across the finish line the entire team was crying," Hildebrand said, remembering the moment and how it brought the team together. "There were some lifelong friendships made on this trip."

Jones and Hildebrand "chased" the riders in Jones' helicopter for most of the race, capturing the action on video and in still photography. Using the material they collected, the team is producing a video documentary to circulate to team members and others interested in the race.

The two Rogue Valley residents returned this week, excited and exhausted. An exasperated Jones, attempting to sum up the race, said only, "What an adventure."

Chad Snyder is a freelance writer living in Jacksonville. E-mail him at chadpacnor@yahoo.com.

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