Choo Hab Steekers? The Baja 500

Quite probably the single phrase/question I heard most during my 9 days in Baja, Mexico was “Choo hab steekers?” I’ve come to understand that stickers mean a lot to those people…the young children running around the streets barefooted to the geriatrics, leathery wrinkled skin and hunched over from probably a lifetime of hard work…work like the most of us would never understand. I’m pretty sure stickers represent status. If you’ve got stickers, and you give them stickers, you become a celebrity of sorts…if you didn’t have any (which I did forget to bring some with me while prerunning and the likes a few times), suddenly their expressions change from excitement to “choo hab monies por tacos?”

baja 500 stickers

Mexico was a simple place. In fact, being in Valle De La Trinidad (Valley T) for the first few days of our trip took me back to when I was a kid. The way of life, growing up in a small town of less than 200 people…it was so very similar. Dirt roads. No real amenities to speak of. It almost had a lawless appeal to it.

baja 500 valley t valle de la trinidad

We were in Valley T for the first 4 or 5 days (I’m not too sure which, as time or days really becomes of no importance) because Team Alamo had more of a mission than simply racing 3 teams in the Baja 500…they were there to help make a difference. El Oasis Orphanage. As you can see by the website, it reflects everything Mexico. It’s simple with no bells or whistles…and it’s unfinished and in a state of disarray.

El Oasis Orphanage is a small orphanage where abandoned children get to live and are taken care of. It’s a non-profit, private organization. The children are fed, clothed, housed and bussed to school. Something they would not otherwise have, as their parents have passed away, or are strung out on booze or drugs, or in jail…anywhere but with their family.

el oasis provided a safe and happy place for the kids.
el oasis baja 500 girl

Paul Alamo, owner of Team Alamo is practically a celebrity with the orphanage. For several years he’s been donating his time, his money, and goods to both the orphanage and the nearby school where the children go. This time around, he brought down new windows from Window Mart for a great deal for the school as many had been broken over the years, as well as all new bedding for the kids. I’m sure he did more, but he’s very humble and didn’t really let on to all he’d been doing. He spent many hours over the days with the kids, talking and playing with them, et cetera.

team alamo el oasis orphanage baja 500

But he also came to race.
baja 500 helmet bike dirtbike

Three teams were entered. The 2x bike, 6x, and 10x. Being pretty new to the Baja racing scene myself, I had a hard time keeping track of everyone and everything going on. Tomas and myself hung out pretty much mostly with the “C” team; the 6x bike. The “A” and “B” team did a lot of their prerunning and the likes on their own time and schedule. The 2x bike was to make first dust out of the entire Baja 500 entries, and that was something to be excited about. In our core group, there were 6 prerunner bikes and one buggy. We put all of them to use.

team alamo mile 160 baja 500 mexico

I don’t really have it in me to write about the entire trip. It was filled with lots of ups and downs. It started with a 4am wheel-bearing blowout on the trailer while I was driving down i5 near San Diego on the way down. It ended with another wheel bearing blowout on the other side of the trailer while crossing from i5 to hwy 99 on the way home. There was lots in between. I’ll let pictures and captions do the talking now…in no particular order, of course…cause that’s too much work. :)

Oh, and btw, pretty much all these wide-angle fish-eye looking pics were taken with the GoPro HD camera. This camera freggin ROCKS! Way safer to shoot with these than carrying around several thousand dollars worth of SLR cameras through the slums of Encenada, Mexico. Haha!

One other thing…If you really feel like sifting through the 1400 or so photos Tomas and I took… check em out here: Full Gallery from the 2010 Baja 500

I guess margaritas are acceptable to drink at 9am
margarita joe mexico encenada

There are many ways to get a job done
trophy truck baja 500 mexico encenada

We got much 4-love
umbrella girls chicas baja 500

The Cops Racing guys might have been the most popular people around as far as I could tell
cops racing baja 500

With Viagra, anything is possible. Didn’t you know?
super viagra encenada mexico

Friday was NUTS with tech inspection and contingency.
trophy truck contingency baja 500 race mexico encenada

This flag HAD to have been the pride of Encenada…pictures don’t do it justice, but the thing HAD to have been about the size of a Futbol field.
mexico flag huge encenada

“I’m on a boat, bitch!” Dry dock…or something
dry dock port

Beware of the other side of the road ;)
paris bar encenada mexico baja 500

Paul, Tomas, and myself after some silt beds in the buggy
silt bed buggy baja 500

There were many tires to be changed
changing tire spoon baja 500

Setting up the GoPro HD cameras
gopro hd buggy baja 500

Ever heard the expression “Silt Sucks”? :)
silt sucks buggy baja 500

Our home for 1876 miles

Toe and I did some dirtbike riding while we were out there. We stopped for a pic on this Gabion Basket.
joe and toe dirtbike Gabion Baskets

This is what it’s all about!
score international buggy

We saw lots of military checkpoints
military checkpoint baja mexico

They weren’t really messing around
military checkpoint baja mexico hummer gunner

Awesome! Water in the gas! :O
buggy baja mexico prerunner

Devoid of pretty much anything out there
desert baja mexico

At mile marker 160… there was NOTHING around for who knows how many miles
baja pits marker 160

Our guys and the prerunners….and me. :D
prerunner joe balls

We got dirty
silt sucks dirty shift baja 500

Next door to the school
window sill

There was much poverty
house poor poverty

I’m sure some of these little guys at the school had to learn to grow up real fast
child black and white mexico poor

I was pretty shocked to see this inside a cupboard in one of the classrooms

The kids were stoked to sit in and play with the buggy
kids in buggy valley t

“SeƱor Tomas…choo has big muscles!”
tomas kid school laughing

Bryce Olsen was on the “B” team
bryce olsen helmet

The race bikes were pretty damned baller
honda crf 450 race baja 500

I’m not even sure what mile marker this was
bryce olsen wheelie crf 450 baja

While dialing in the suspension and testing and the likes, “C” team Riley swaps HARD, nearly pitching it away at about 70mph
swap highside crf 450 baja riley

Truck prerunning
trophy truck prerunner

You can find the weirdest stuff in the darkest of corners in Mexico
corona coke coca cola twisted bottle

See what I mean?
viagra woody stiffy handicap

Another photographer at work
old camera photographer photog mexico

Lotsa these little Hondas around
honda 125 mexico

Some locals. We saw them again the next day and I gave them a stickers. Everyone loves stickers.
local pretty girls

Little kid romping around
child boy alone in street

statue encenada mexico

Yeah, it’s pink.
pink hummer

Could it get any more diverse than that?
trophy truck driving down street

People running rampant it seemed
friday contingency tech inspection baja 500 encenada

SOOOO badass!
fox shocks buggy baja

Handing out goodies!
trophy truck merch

Snacks! In a wheel barrow! haha!
wheel barrow snacks mexico

Old homie throws me the peace sign when he seems I’m about to take his picture
old man black and white peace sign guitar

Official Team Alamo shirts
team alamo shirts

This made me giggle…them little kids GAWKING
kids gawking and hottie

The Tecate Girls
tecate girls hotties

And the crowds watching them shake their groove-thang
crazy crowds baja mexico

We ended up on the roof of the hotel somehow :D
corona hotel and spa rooftop

And took this panoramic shot
panoramic encenada rooftop baja 500

Friday night, after all the fastivities, the streets were TRASHED with…well….trash.
dirty streets encenada mexico night time

The bridge
bridge baja 500 encenada lights night time

This dude was drunk and passed out on the sidewalk
drunk burracho sidewalk sleeping passed out

The tequila store! WHOOOOO!!!
tequila store encenada mexico absynth

Swimming in the pool at Hotel Bahia. That’s where we stayed for 4 or 5 nights.
hotel bahia pool underwater photo

On Saturday, raceday, they sent the bikes out 30 seconds apart at damned near oh-dark-thirty. 6am. It was still kinda dark outside! :(

Here’s Bryce on the 2x bike for Team Alamo.
bryce olsen 2x baja 500

And dude on the JCR Honda…the favorite to win and last year’s winner
JCR Honda 1x

Jose, the Team Alamo C team rider, coming off “la rampa” in the wash
team alamo jose 6x

10x. Team Alamo’s A team.
10x team alamo

Some guy
109x baja 500

The crowd grew exponetially by the minute, it seemed.
baja 500 crowd

No dwelling was safe from the tagging
sur 13 x3 tagging mexico

Police with K9 units EVERYWHERE
policia k9 police mexico

These stickers were awesome!
trophy truck running over people sticker caution

Dude waiting for the trophy trucks to be released
old man black and white sitting on bench mexico

Toe’s reaction after I sent him to “the danger zone”
toe flipping the bird

Cause these dudes were getting unruly in the city streets of Encenada!
trophy truck encenada street

Toe’s life nearly ended at the Baja 500! hahaha!
general tire trophy truck city streets of encenada

These trucks were so bad ass. You’ll never know what I’m talking about until you visit the Baja 250/500/1000
trophy truck wheelie jump

And the buggies
buggy class 1 baja

Wherever you could find a seat…
crowd at baja 500 watching from bridge

…to watch these beasts
class 1 buggy baja 500

We even sacrificed a GoPro to get you some amazing footage…can you spot the GoPro?
gopro smashed by buggy baja 500

Vendors selling bracelets
explicit bracelets encenada

A woman and her baby
woman baby poor black and white mexico

We came, we saw, we shot. Thanks for looking!
crazy mexico hat sombrero encenada baja 500

Facebook Comments


  1. Very nice pictures,Im a solo rider thinking to race baja 500 solo,thise coming one 2011,hope so ,,,,,

  2. That’s an amazing photo story! You gotta’ do that again!

  3. Awesome pics and narrative, thanks. I am looking forward to seeing the sacrificial GOPRO video.

    Baja is great, El Oasis is special.


    1. If you go to ourpage there is a like bttuon at teh top of the page by our name Alamo Glass Mirror . If you are wanting to enter the contest for the free frameless shower enclosure, on the left side of the page there is a link labeled contests click on that link and you will be able to upload a picture there. Or you can and it will take you directly to the contest page.

  4. Those are some amazing shots! A big thanks to you and Toe.

  5. Awesome update, need to get states side for this next year!!

  6. Good stuff. Brings back lots of memories from my buggy driving days.

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